The almost three million people who receive Disability Living Allowance in England and Wales will be eligible for a half price fishing licence from next year.
The Environment Agency will extend the disability concession â€“ which currently covers Blue Badge holders with severe mobility problems â€“ to include all people receiving Disability Living Allowance.
A review by the Environment Agency, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and the British Disabled Anglers Association (BDAA), found further scope for the half price licence beyond the 30,000 that now claim the concession.
â€œOur review showed that we can now extend the concession to everyone on Disability Living Allowance,â€ said Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans.
â€œAngling is one of the most popular outdoor activities amongst disabled people. We hope that extending this concession will enable more disabled people to take the sport up, including those with mental disabilities.
â€œIf the same proportion of new anglers claim the disability concession next year, an extra 45,000 people in total will receive the half price rod licence.â€
Terry Moseley, president of the British Disabled Anglers Association said: â€œThe Environment Agency's inclusive approach to angling and disability issues is always very important, as its decisions have a significant impact for the number of disabled people who participate in fishing.
â€œThe BDAA are in full support of the new extended coverage offered to disabled anglers. The changes as a result of the review and advice will, I am sure, be welcomed across the board.
â€œThese (eligibility) changes along with advances in developing improved access and disability awareness courses by the Environment Agency, is a positive step forward to the future of angling for disabled people.
â€œWith changes to the disability discrimination act, and access issues being reformed by the Department of Work and Pensions, it is reassuring to know that the Environment Agency are forward thinking and address all the issues encompassing disability & fishing.â€
Disabled anglers will need to confirm their eligibility for the concession by showing either â€“
a valid Blue Badge; or one of the standard letters from the Department of Work And Pensions that confirm current receipt of Disability Living Allowance.
Jane Harris, campaigns manager of leading national mental health charity, Rethink said: â€œFrom Rethink's experience we know that people with severe mental illness are often socially excluded from leisure activities such as fishing.
â€œTherefore we applaud the Environment Agency for its decision to extend eligibility for reduced cost fishing licences to all those receiving Disability Living Allowance. It is vital that all levels of government take action to remove barriers to full participation in society so that people can recover the quality of life they deserve.â€
The Environment Agency has completed a number of disabled access projects this summer including the River Aire in West Yorkshire, lakes near Ivybridge and Bideford in Devon, and on Hemlington Lake in Middlesbrough.