The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame has joined the American Sportfishing Association and other outdoor sports organizations in urging anglers to practice safe, responsible recreation during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
"Spending time outdoors and participating in the wonderful sport of recreational fishing are excellent ways Americans are learning to cope with the current crisis," said John Mazurkiewicz, president of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors. The Board oversees the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame venue within Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Mo.
"As many anglers have shown, these pastimes can be enjoyed while practicing social distancing and adhering to other guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19," he added. "Unfortunately, some outdoor enthusiasts have failed to follow those guidelines, and that has led to the closure of popular parks, recreation areas and even boat launches."
The goal of ASA's #ResponsibleRecreation initiative is to keep the public from breaking social distancing regulations, thus stopping further access closures on public lands and waters. While many governors have declared fishing to be an "essential activity" that is permitted under quarantine recommendations and requirements, other states and local government authorities have forbidden the public to use fishing and boating access areas.
"Just this week," ASA said in a statement Friday, "Texas closed all its parks to the public because people weren't practicing physical distancing regulations. In addition, some local communities are closing rivers, streams and boat ramps under their jurisdictions for the same reasons." Mazurkiewicz adds that the state of Michigan has closed its water to any motorized boats which has caused a great deal of frustration, while allowing kayakers and others providing their own power to still be on the water.
ASA's #ResponsibleRecreation is similar to the #LiveSmart #FishSmart initiative launched by B.A.S.S. in late March, which urged anglers to enjoy family fishing time while practicing social distancing and common-sense precautions to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
"Fishing is vital to the mental health and wellbeing of millions of Americans," Mazurkiewicz said. "The beauty of it is that they can still go fishing without increasing the risk of getting sick or infecting others. Out of respect for the sport and for fellow anglers, we should all be responsible about how we enjoy outdoor recreation."