The Prime Minister announced the resumption of ‘unlimited outdoor sports’ from Wednesday providing they are conducted alone or with members of the same household and that social distancing rules are followed at all times.
A government source confirmed that “outdoor exercise includes angling, golf, water sports and tennis providing social distanced from Wednesday.”
The decision to include outdoor activities such as angling in the first wave of newly permitted activities followed weeks of intense advocacy and lobbying by the Angling Trust which unified the angling community like never before and saw over 8,000 individual emails sent to MPs and dozens of articles in the regional and national press in support of a safe return for angling.
The Angling Trust has given a warm welcome to the announcement by Prime Minster Boris Johnson Copyright: Getty
The Prime Minister is making a full statement to the House of Commons tomorrow and the Angling Trust will be seeking clarification about the reopening of tackle shops and confirmation of any restrictions on how angling should be practised during the next phase.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP tweeted: “In the least risky outdoor environments we can imminently allow sports like golf, basketball, tennis and fishing.”
Last month, a report from the Angling Trust entitled ‘When We Fish Again’ was submitted to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and the Fisheries and Sports Ministers arguing for recreational fishing to be designated as one of the first permitted outdoor sports when ministers begin to relax the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
It was backed by national angling and fisheries groups including the Canal & River Trust, Salmon & Trout Conservation, the Institute of Fisheries Management and representatives of the angling trade which is estimated to be worth a total of £4bn to the UK economy.
The report recommended a phased resumption in line with the government’s own criteria and identified a number of good 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 social well-being
- a reduction in pressure on other public open spaces
- evidence that non-contact outdoor activities will not increase infection rates
- angling appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds and engages able-bodied and disabled participants alike
- the majority of the population live close to a waterway minimising the need for significant travel.
The Angling Trust’s proposal attracted the support of MPs of all parties and from prominent figures within the angling community.
Reacting to the news, Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook said: “I couldn’t be more pleased to see the hard work of the Angling Trust and our supporters delivering such an outstanding result for everyone who loves to go fishing. We have demonstrated to the satisfaction of government that angling can be permitted as a safe, healthy, beneficial outdoor activity and why it can take its rightful position at the front of the queue as restrictions are relaxed.
"Our effective and professional campaign was in support of a carefully thought through set of phased guidelines under which angling could be safely permitted without increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmissions. Without these guidelines we would have got nowhere and it is now incumbent upon every angler to respect them and demonstrate that we are still playing our part in the nationwide battle against the coronavirus."
Angling Trust Policy Chief Martin Salter said: “There is still work to do to get the tackle shops open and to provide good advice to fisheries, angling guides and coaches but it looks like we are there and it’s no longer a question of When We Fish Again but 'where are we going fishing on Wednesday?' We have run a fabulous campaign but we couldn’t have done it without the support of thousands of anglers who wrote to their MPs and of some of the top names in our sport who gave us their time and expertise.”
Korda and Guru Marketing boss Ali Hamidi added: “This is incredible news for Angling. Fishing can commence from Wednesday. The excellent work of the Angling Trust has made a distant dream a reality. I’m going to name my next 100 carp after Martin Salter and Jamie Cook.”
The Angling Trust has today published further Phase One Guidelines for clubs and fisheries to help them prepare for the resumption of angling on their waters on May 13.