After what has been described as “intense discussions with government officials” the Angling Trust is delighted to announce that we have confirmation that all forms of angling including night fishing, charter boat angling and match fishing will be able to resume from March 29th under new Covid guidance for the return of outdoor sports and recreation.
Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook welcomed the news saying:
“Following our Fishing out of Lockdown submission to the Cabinet Office in February we have been pressing for the lifting of the restrictions placed upon angling through lockdown, in particular night fishing and match fishing, when the time is right.
“We made it clear to the Government that 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 Covid secure guidelines in place covering every aspect of our sport
“I’m pleased that the multiple benefits that angling delivers have again been acknowledged and that we can all look forward to a return to the angling opportunities we were able to enjoy last summer and autumn.”
In common with other outdoor sports, including golf, the Angling Trust is publishing initial guidelines to help clubs and fisheries prepare for a full return for angling at the end of the month. These guidelines will be revised once the regulations are published but they include written confirmation from both the Cabinet Office and Defra. Further information will be published in due course on the Sport England website.
Angling Trust Head of Policy, Martin Salter added:
“The return of outdoor sports was fully expected from the 29th March but we had to make sure that the civil servants recognised that match fishing to the Angling Trust guidelines doesn’t constitute ‘a gathering’ and could resume safely.
“Night fishing was always going to be tricky ahead of the promised return of camping on April 12th but I’m pleased that the distinction with ‘fishing into or through the night’ has been recognised and that these anglers can now enjoy the Easter break. Likewise for sea anglers wanting to book a charter boat trip.”
Angling Trust statement on fishing in England from March 29th:
Following the Angling Trust’s February 11th submission to the Cabinet Office making the case for a relaxation of travel restrictions and a return to all forms of angling – including night fishing, charter boat angling and match fishing – we have been having intense discussions with government officials who are drawing up the new guidance for the return of outdoor sports and recreation for the next relaxation in the Covid restrictions due on March 29th.
The Angling Trust is pleased to announce the Cabinet Office and Defra have now confirmed to us the following from March 29th:
• Fishing will remain permitted as outdoor recreation or exercise for up to 6 people, or in a larger group if everyone present is from the same two households. A ‘household’ can include the support bubble linked to that household [if eligible].
• Outdoor recreational activities and exercise may take place at night so you may fish into or through the night. There are no time limits on outdoor recreation. However, you may not go on holiday to go fishing or use fishing as a pretext for a camping trip as overnight stays for these purposes remain prohibited until April 12th (Step 2)
• Match fishing will be enabled as an organised outdoor sport from March 29th. Organised outdoor sports will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies to ensure appropriate steps, including risk assessments, are taken to make it Covid secure in line with the law. At this stage, these gatherings must only include participants – not spectators.
• Private boat fishing under the Rule of 6 and charter boats operating in accordance with Covid precautions should now both be allowed. However, where fishing takes place on a partially enclosed boat (eg with a cabin or lounge area) with the exception of the skipper, those outside the household support bubble must not go indoors (except for access to/use of the toilet).
• The statutory stay at home restriction will be lifted but the guidance will encourage you to minimise travel outside of your local area. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in, or during, their activity.
• Tackle shops and other ‘non-essential retail’ can fully open at Step 2 (April 12th) but can continue to offer click/call and collect until this point. Fisheries offering self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen at this time.
• Throughout, anglers must also ensure they are in possession of a valid fishing licence, adhere to fisheries bylaws including the close season and have permission of the fishery owner.
Although the regulations are yet to be published we fully expect them to be in line with the above. A series of FAQs will be published as usual by Sport England in addition to any departmental guidance.
The Angling Trust will update its formal guidelines once we have seen the regulations and had the benefit of legal advice. In the meantime, and with this caveat, we advise angling clubs and fisheries to plan on this basis.