Missouri will waive fishing permit requirements due to the novel coronavirus until at least mid-April, according to the state’s Department of Conservation (MDC). The MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission will allow waivers for sport fishing and daily trout tags for residents and nonresidents from Friday until April 15, when officials will “reassess the situation,” according to the department. Other regulations on dates, limits and methods remain in place. “Missouri’s rivers and streams offer high-quality fishing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health and safety recommendations,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said in a statement on the department’s website. “Fishing is also a great way to get some much-needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time.” Pauley also called for residents to stick to existing health recommendations on hand-washing and social distancing amid the pandemic. Missouri’s three state-controlled public trout-fishing parks are open for day fishing, while Maramec Spring Park in St. James, which is operated by the James Foundation, is closed for fishing and all other activities, authorities said. State parks will close overnight camping and lodging beginning Friday to minimize the chance of spreading coronavirus, Missouri Department of Natural Resources authorities said. Other states are looking at similar waivers. On Friday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills tweeted that she directed wildlife authorities in her state “to open all inland waters for fishing immediately” and to waive the recreational fishing license requirement. “There’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” she wrote. “The great outdoors is still open.” The Maine waivers do not apply to anyone who has had their license suspended or revoked, according to the governor’s website, and they do not apply to commercial freshwater fishing. In Arkansas, the Game and Fish Commission voted in favor of a similar policy that began over the weekend, KATV reported. And in Oregon, following an order from Gov. Kate Brown for residents to “stay home, save lives,” fish and wildlife officials clarified that fishing and hunting remain legal, according to the Statesman Journal.
Kudos to Missouri, and these other state, for doing this for the folks. Fishing IS, indeed good for the “heart and soul.” Hopefully other states will follow Missouri’s fine lead. 🙂