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‘I really want to get out there’: Durham fishermen hit snag with coronavirus restrictions

Durham fishermen hit snag with COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: Despite the warming weather, most boaters haven't been able to set up for the season. The situation has been particularly impactful on people who make a living on the water. Aaron Streck reports.

Despite the warming weather, most boaters haven’t been able to set up for the season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The situation has been particularly impactful on people who make a living on the water.

Scott Richardson operates a 25-foot charter. The 55-year-old has been running Scotty’s Sport Fishing for the past five years.

“We fish for Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout — we have a great fantastic fishery out here (on Lake Ontario).”

Fishing is more than a passion for Richardson. He’s been casting lines since he was seven years old.

“I’m dying, I really want to get out there,” he said.

Typically, he would already be on the water but instead, he’s been forced to fish from shore.

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“We’re told we can fish, but as you can see, all the boat launches are closed, all the boats are still in storage mode,” said Richardson.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Ontario allows certain businesses, workplaces to reopen May 4

Richardson says he makes between 30 and 40 trips per season but he says he hasn’t even been able to access his boat in storage.

The Durham Regional Police Service launched its boat at the Whitby marina this week.

“When boaters do get out on the water, we want to be ready to be out there both for a visible presence and rescues if necessary,” said Sgt. Matt Flower.

READ MORE: Durham emergency child care centres offer relief during coronavirus pandemic

While marinas and public boat launches remain closed for the time being, Flower is concerned about those who have private launches.

“Make sure your boats are in great shape, make sure you have all your emergency equipment with you because most years when you’re out there, you can see boats everywhere, you can flag down help. You’re not going to be in that situation this year,” said Flower.

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As for Richardson, he says he can’t make a living fishing from the dock, which means his short window to operate will keep getting smaller.

Come Monday, marinas will be allowed to begin pulling boats out of storage, though the province has yet to announce when they’ll re-open to the public.