Gov. Janet Mills and the commissioner of Maine’s Inland Fisheries & Wildlife suspended fishing license requirements through April 30 in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced Friday.

In addition, the Maine Department of Marine Resources also waived the requirement that saltwater anglers must join the state’s saltwater registry – at least until May 1.

Both measures are intended to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors as the state grapples with the virus outbreak. As of Friday, there were 56 cases of coronavirus reported in the state, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced.

Mills is considering more ways to make Maine’s wild lands, rivers and lakes more accessible, although she stressed the need for people to maintain the appropriate distance from others – as recommended by the federal CDC (at last 6 feet from the nearest person), IFW reported.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” Mills said in a news release. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time together, I hope this order will motivate Maine people to do what we have done for generations: take to our lakes, rivers, and streams to cast a line. The great outdoors is still open. Please enjoy it safely.”

The governor and IFW Commissioner Judy Camuso also opened all waters to open-water fishing, effective immediately. While ice remains on many waters in the northern half of the state, open water in southern and central Maine should be accessible everywhere in the next few weeks.

The Maine Warden Service recommends all anglers fishing from a boat or wading use a lifejacket, as the frigid water temperature at this time of year can cause hypothermia, which can kill quickly. Maine has more than 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams.

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