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Signs of fishing chaos in Wales

Mixed messages in Wales. Can they drive to fish, or not?

Just as the Angling Trust was patting itself on the back and considering it a job well done for putting angling on the exercise agenda in England, anglers in Wales were thrown into confusion.

Could Welsh anglers fish or couldn’t they? If they could, could they drive to fish? Or did they have to walk? Or maybe they could roll up to the river in a golf caddy with a bag full of fishing rods strapped to the back? Who knows?

Well not the poor, beleagured Welsh angler, that’s for sure. As the Angling Trust iced the cake by announcing not only the return of fishing, but also night fishing in England, in an extraordinary four-hour period on Wednesday afternoon, three Welsh bodies managed to put out conflicting messages about the angling situation in Wales.

First Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issued an update saying that you can fish within your immediate location “but without driving” - then added, rather confusingly, that you should follow the ‘stay at home guidance from the Welsh Government’.

Then, First Minister Mark Drakeford said in a virtual Senedd session that angling was now allowed during lockdown “providing social distancing was observed”. Then added: “If you walk from your home to a river and sit there and fish on your own, then that is allowed.” So, fishing is fine, but no driving to the water there, then.

Next, Angling Cymru came in with a ‘Fishing in Wales Update’ and urged Welsh anglers to ‘Stay Local’, then told them: “You can drive to go fishing but only locally - the shortest distance you can.”

Angling Cymru state on their website that they are the “umbrella body representing recreational angling in Wales, recognised by Sport Wales & Welsh Government.”

It is unfair to highlight logical inconsistencies with the lockdown ‘rules’ as we struggle with what is a highly charged and highly confusing situation. And let’s face it, there are far more important matters than angling to consider during this COVID-19 crisis, but these three bodies should have firmly established and well trodden paths of communication established between them - between Government, NRW, and anglers. Once again, these mixed messages suggest that there clearly aren’t.

So which is it? Can Welsh anglers drive to fish or not? If not, then how will the police deal with those anglers who in good faith, having seen Angling Cymru’s notice?

They need to get their stories straight.

Angling Cymru


Angling is number 14

Welsh assembly
Transcript of plenary session May 13, 2020
Section 28 
Mark Drakeford: “As far as angling is allowed, it is allowed under our current regulations, the ones that were passed into law on Monday, but it must be done locally and people must observe social distancing. Here in Wales, we are encouraging people to stay home. That is the best way in which we can help one another to overcome this crisis. That's why we're all making the sacrifices that we are. But people are allowed now to leave their homes more than once a day for exercise, and if your way of taking exercise is to walk from your home to a river and to sit there, not near other people, and to go fishing, then that is allowed within the rules in Wales. But it must be local and it must be done in a way that observes social distancing.”

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