ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has opened the state’s sport fishing season while reminding participants to adhere to health restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sport and personal use fishing will remain open during the 2020 season “subject to compliance with health mandates,” the department commissioner’s office said in a letter Monday. Subsistence fishing remains open and unrestricted.
A March 27 travel ban between communities issued by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy does not include Alaska residents traveling to “fishing locations,” the fish and game department said.
Residents traveling to participate in sport or personal use fisheries outside their own communities were asked to follow guidelines including remaining close to home, researching and abiding by local mandates and buying food, drinks and fuel before leaving their communities.
The department also requested that anglers practice social distancing and use face coverings.
“Adherence to these stipulations will allow Alaskans the opportunity to fish and put food on their tables while taking measures to protect public health and allow time to build needed health infrastructure,” the department said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
There was some opposition to opening the sport fishing season. The Native Village of Kwinhagak passed a resolution asking state officials to close the summer season, despite having a small but thriving sport fishing industry in the Kanektok and Arolik rivers.
The fish and game department letter opening sport fishing was sent in addition to guidance on ways that Alaska residents can slow the spread of COVID-19 while taking advantage of nearby fisheries.
“The Department understands the value of these activities to Alaskans and supports Alaskans having the opportunity to get out and fish to feed their families and fill their freezers,” the agency said.