For Washington sportsmen and guides alike, these are unprecedented times.
The fishing closure in Washington State was a response to the ongoing threat of Covid-19. Small businesses, the WDFW, and sportsmen were in a much different place 5 weeks ago than where we are now. WSGA wanted to update fellow guides of the current situation and how we got to where we are at this exact moment.
A few weeks into the closure when signs of potential easing were a faint light at the end of a very long tunnel, the WDFW held a stakeholders meeting for hunting, fishing, and outdoor organizations across the state. Ideas were sought for a potential re-opening and what that’d look like across all user groups. At the time Governor Inslee had a “Stay-home, Stay-safe” order that was set till May 4th.
WSGA was in attendance at the meeting and added input for reopening on behalf of the guides of Washington State. The next meeting was going to be set soon and the WDFW went forth with the task of formulating a plan for getting Washingtonians back outdoors.
The following week, the Governor’s office requested a plan to look at getting Washington back outdoors. A plan was submitted by WDFW and last Monday the Governor announced an easing of outdoor recreation with some state lands and parks reopening. During the press conference there wasn’t a direct statement regarding guiding anglers. Promptly after the press conference, WDFW called a meeting with their Guide Committee of which 6 members are part of WSGA. They also requested the Coastal Charter Associations and Charterboat Association of Puget Sound to attend.
The idea of the meeting was held to get all guides and charters on the same page and begin the creation of a letter that states our common safe practices and what the industry as whole would do if allowed to reopen. The following few days there were multiple meetings within the respective associations to align all members of the request and on Thursday the same group met again and ratified the letter to the Governor.
The situation right now, is the plans that were submitted by the guide and charter industry have been received by the Governor’s Office and they are reviewing them. As soon as we know when the industry can get back to work, we will let you know. As a community of guides and anglers we are seeing very slow, deliberate, and safe steps to getting Washingtonians back outdoors and we are hoping to be guiding them soon.
WSGA is appreciative for the WDFW and the Charter industry for working with WSGA to aid in the industry’s endeavors as a whole. Another thanks to the WDFW for acting quickly to initiate the process of creating and facilitating the meetings.
Please understand the plan that is attached, may not be the final plan. It is absolutely possible the Governor’s Office may want something clarified or even amended before approving. When the final plan is approved, it is imperative that Guides and Charters abide by the plan to ensure we are not shut down again.