Angling Trust puts case for fishing to make early return from lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:09 27 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 27 April 2020

Could fisherman see restrictions lifted on May 7? Picture: PA

Could fisherman see restrictions lifted on May 7? Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

The Angling Trust is campaigning for the sport to become one of the first permitted outdoor activities when ministers review the coronavirus lockdown restrictions on May 7.

A report entitled ‘When We Fish Again’ has been submitted to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and the Fisheries and Sports Ministers setting out the means by which recreational fishing could be permitted and draws on experience in other European countries including Germany, Holland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Norway where angling has been allowed to continue under certain conditions during the pandemic.

The Angling Trust say it has significant benefits to both well-being and the economy without having a detrimental impact on their efforts to combat COVID-19.

The recreational angling sector is estimated to be worth over £4bn to the UK economy and experience from across Europe indicates that this contribution has grown significantly where angling has been permitted under lockdown. On May 4 angling is set to resume in Belgium and many countries have now announced timetables for a lifting of restrictions on activities such as fishing that allow social distancing to be maintained.

The Angling Trust report recommends a phased resumption in line with the government’s own criteria and identifies a number of other reasons why angling should be an early candidate for consideration including:

Being a largely solitary sport where self-isolation occurs naturally

Proven benefits for mental health and physical wellbeing

Appealing to people of all ages and backgrounds and engaging able-bodied and disabled participants alike

The majority of the population live within five miles of a waterway minimising the need for significant travel

Evidence that non-contact outdoor activities will not increase infection rates

A reduction in pressure on other public open spaces

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has already confirmed to MPs that ministers are actively considering how low risk outdoor activities like angling and golf might be permitted in the first phase of any easing of restrictions.

The campaign has attracted the support of prominent figures within the angling community and senior MPs.

Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group Sir Charles Walker MP said: “I have spoken directly to the Minister for Tourism and Sport, Nigel Huddleston MP, to ask that angling and other outdoor activities suited to social distancing once again be given the green light. I explained to the Minister that the Angling Trust has produced a fantastic and detailed template as to how we can return, in a safe and responsible fashion, to the sport we love. The Trust has now lodged its carefully thought through plan entitled ‘When We Fish Again’ with a number of Ministers and Sport England and it provides a sensible and pragmatic way forward.”

Keith Arthur, angling journalist and broadcaster, added: “Angling is the best voluntary social distancing tool and so important to improve mental health amongst participants. It is vital therefore that the Angling Trust has worked tirelessly and across all disciplines of the sport to present a case outlining angling as an essential pastime and form of exercise, along with cycling, jogging, running and walking, in the strategy to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. This isn’t just a plea on behalf of angling but a carefully prepared, fact-based document that would allow a measured and mindful return to the countryside for those who wish to.”

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