State announces free fishing for the next few days while license sales are suspended

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has temporarily suspended the sale of fishing and hunting licenses.

You can fish for free for the next few days, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday.

The unusual move to allow unlicensed fishing and shellfish gathering is a response to the fact that the state’s license system is down while officials investigate a security vulnerability.

“We are as frustrated as our customers over the licensing system being shut down, but we want to make sure anglers can still hit the waters over the next several days,” WDFW Director Jim Unsworth said in a news release.

Anglers will still need to follow all set seasons, size limits and closures, the agency said.

Normal requirements will be back in effect next Wednesday.

Hunting licenses will still be required for the major seasons which start in September, and the agency expects to have an option for purchasing those licenses available soon.

It’s unclear at this time how much customer information was accessed in the security breach of a system managed by a contract company and how current the vulnerable information was. The investigation is ongoing. WDFW and OCS are working with the vendor and collaborating with law enforcement, federal agencies and officials in other states to determine how much information was accessed.

WDFW is working to resume license sales as soon as it can ensure the security of the system. More information will be released as it becomes available.