Following the announcement of a second lockdown, starting on November 5th, the Angling Trust was able to clarify, very quickly the rules relating to recreational angling. They have offered some initial guidance and interpretation of the guidelines. Formal notice will be available once they have had further consultation with the DCMA and Sport England.
Overall the Angling Trust is pleased that ministers have recognised the value of allowing angling and some other forms of outdoor recreation to continue through the forthcoming lockdown period. However, the new rules are more complicated than they had hoped and anglers should be fully aware of what we can and can’t do in the next 28 days. So, here is what has been published as of 5th November:
“How to fish
The regulations are clear and you can only leave home to fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual. The Rule of Six is now effectively the Rule of Two for most of us. The tightening of the rules on ‘gatherings’ means that match fishing or any other organised fishing event is prohibited by law during lockdown. However, competitive fishing will be able to resume once there is a return to the three-tier system of restrictions. On this basis we can announce that all Angling Trust competitions are suspended for the period covering 5th November – 2nd December 2020.
Where to fish
Angling is deemed a permissible form of ‘outdoor recreation’, and a lawful reason to leave home. It can take place, without time limits, within the provision allowing people “to visit a public outdoor space for the purposes of open air recreation”.
A ‘public outdoor space’ is defined as an ‘outdoor place to which the public have, or are permitted, access (whether on payment or otherwise).’ We believe this clearly includes riverbanks, towpaths, beaches and stillwaters that can either be accessed freely or on the payment of a day ticket or subscription levied by the owner or leased to a publicly available fishing association. The government clearly intends for people to be able to take their outdoor exercise and recreation in the form of angling and these regulations allow this to occur.
Fisheries are not on the published list of businesses that the government has ordered to close and there is no reason that they should do so providing that they operate in accordance with the rules. It does not permit club outings or organised amateur sporting activities of any sort. All indoor or social facilities in any way connected with a fishing venue must close or refer to the relevant Government guidance. Fishing tackle shops, whether onsite or not, can only operate a ‘click and collect’ service.
Travelling to fish
Whilst the government have chosen not to write their travel guidance into law, we are urging anglers to respect the advice which states that it is permissible to travel in order:
“to spend time or exercise outdoors – this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)”
Put simply, you can travel to go fishing but long journeys should be avoided ‘wherever possible’. Sea anglers should focus on their local beaches and fishing marks and freshwater anglers should not be travelling hundreds of miles in search of fishing during lockdown. It is up to the individual to apply common sense and act within the spirit of the government’s guidance. You absolutely cannot leave home to fish if you have Coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.
How long to fish
There are no limits on the time that can be spent on outdoor recreation which means that anglers are able to continue fishing into and through the hours of darkness providing the other rules are observed.”
Clearly this is going to be a difficult time for everyone and we are fortunate that we can continue to fish despite the restrictions. The Trust made the case for fishing to continue based in the health and well- being benefits that angling offers along with the importance of reducing pressure on other open spaces. It is incumbent on us all to continue to act responsibly and to fish safely, fish locally and respect the Rule of Two.
We’ll update you of further developments when we have them.