California considers emergency fishing regulations amid COVID-19 pandemic

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. – The California Fish and Game Commission is set to consider plans that would allow the state to temporarily suspend or restrict sport and recreational fishing in some areas.

According to a meeting agenda, commissioners will consider adopting and an emergency regulation authorizing the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to temporarily suspend, delay or restrict fishing in specific areas to protect the public from COVID-19. The meeting is scheduled to take place online on April 9.

While commissioners acknowledge that going outdoors is encouraged, they also say maintaining physical distance is important. When a recreational sportfishing season opens, commissioners say, people tend to congregate in certain parking lots, trails, and waterways, making “choke points” where it may be difficult for people to stay six feet apart. People also visit remote towns, interacting with citizens when buying goods and services. This, commissioners said, could put more people at risk.

Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini came out with a statement against the proposed regulation. He said he’s concerned about the economic impact fishing regulations would have on his county, which is home to Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir. Sheriff Magrini also said, “I fear that to prohibit these activities and force persons to isolate within their homes will have a greater detrimental impact to our citizens than allowing them to responsibly exercise and explore outdoor activities.”

The Fish and Game Commission’s proposal would give the Department of Fish and Wildlife the authority to enforce closures or delays. It doesn’t necessarily mean DFW will take action.

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