For the fourth time in ten months, the Angling Trust is making a detailed submission to Government outlining the case for angling. This time, as Ministers meet to consider which Covid restrictions to ease, the Trust is pressing for the resumption of competition and night fishing as long as guidelines are followed.

Currently, angling is only permitted as part of ‘daily exercise’ and can only take place ‘locally’. No organised recreational activities can take place and fishing through the night risks incurring hefty fines.

In their submission to both the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Cabinet Office, entitled Fishing out of Lockdown, the Trust states:

We need to move as quickly as possible to opening up safe outdoor recreation along the lines of last summer in order to deliver health, well-being, social and economic benefits. Our preference is for a national system but should the Government decide to retain a tiered system of restrictions the Angling Trust has appropriate guidelines in place to drive compliance.

The key benefits claimed for angling during the pandemic include:

  • being a largely solitary sport where social distancing occurs naturally
  • proven benefits for mental health and physical well-being
  • angling appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds and engages able-bodied and disabled participants alike
  • evidence that non-contact outdoor activities will not increase infection rates
  • a reduction in pressure on other public open spaces.

The paper also highlights the economic benefits of allowing angling to continue:
The decision by Ministers not to place unnecessary restrictions on angling has undoubtedly protected the £4bn a year angling trade which supports up to 40,000 jobs in the UK. In fact, since May last year there has been a near 20% increase in rod licence sales, significant rises in angling club membership and a corresponding boost in sales of fishing tackle, outdoor clothing and ancillary products. This has been welcome news indeed at a time when many other businesses are facing financial ruin.

The four key areas where the Trust is seeking changes are:

  • the resumption of socially distanced match fishing to Covid Guidelines
  • the return to ‘outdoor recreation without time limit’ to allow night fishing
  • an end to the current travel restrictions for outdoor recreation
  • the resumption of private and charter boat fishing as previously

The Angling Trust has once again made clear that their submission is focused on why and how a full return to angling can safely occur. The decision on timing is a matter for Ministers acting on public health advice.

Anglers are invited to register their support for the full resumption of fishing as set out in the Trust submission by going to www.anglingtrust.net/fishingoutoflockdown

The paper concludes:
Recreational fishing has provided a valuable lifeline for many thousands of people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds throughout this pandemic. It has been conducted safely and responsibly with strong guidelines in place covering every aspect of our sport. There are multiple benefits to be had in permitting a full return as soon as any restrictions can be lifted.

Angling Trust Head of Policy, Martin Salter said:
“This is the fourth submission from the Angling Trust to Government and follows on from our highly acclaimed When We Fish Again proposals last April which saw angling resumed ahead of nearly every other sport as we emerged from the first National Lockdown. We are hopeful that by setting out the case for angling in a measured and responsible manner which emphasises the multiple benefits in terms of individual health and mental wellbeing during these difficult times, Ministers will once again see us as part of the solution rather than the problem.”

Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook said:
“Experience over the last 10 months has shown that socially distanced outdoor recreation activities such as angling can be conducted safely and responsibly. The Angling Trust Covid compliant guidelines have been widely accepted across the sport and to the best of our knowledge there have been no known examples where angling has led to the spread of the virus. Our submission makes it crystal clear that when the time is right there is no reason why all disciplines of angling, including match fishing, angling at night and charter boat fishing, should not be up and running successfully.”

The Angling Trust submission is supported by high profile angling experts from all branches of the sport.

England match angler Steve Ringer:
“Angling has proven to be a real lifeline to people throughout this pandemic, so when restrictions start to lift I really see no reason why fishing shouldn’t be included and even encouraged.”

Korda carp specialist and broadcaster Ali Hamidi:
“When fishing was allowed back last May, along with Night Fishing, and Match Fishing a couple of weeks later, the ‘R’ value across the country continued to be driven down by the nation. We are primarily an isolated outdoor pursuit and that means whether someone fishes for one day or three nights consecutively in their bivvy, it needs only the same amount of travel time. Along with the low risk factor of fishing, the benefits for the many include not only physical health improvements, but more importantly vitality for mental health.”

Specialist angler Dai Gribble:
“All the evidence indicates that angling presents an extremely low risk of spreading Coronavirus. I would welcome the current restrictions being lifted to allow anglers to fully benefit from all the positives angling provides in these difficult times.”

Sea angling journalist Dave Barham:
“A return to the same guidelines that we came out of lockdown one with would mean so much to sea anglers. There are hundreds of thousands of us who have not been fishing during the current lockdown, due to travel restrictions, either from the shore or boat. It would also mean a lot for charter skippers to be allowed to operate with five paying anglers on board again.”

Flyfishing expert Charles Jardine:
“Since the fist Lockdown and resumption of angling; the sport has proven to be a natural source of  pleasure and well being for many thousands of people – both in terms of metal and physical health. Also, the boost to rural economies should not be overlooked especially as many have been hit hard by the effects of Covid on their various businesses.”

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