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Competition fishing and overnight fishing scheduled to return in England

The Angling Trust has confirmed that all forms of angling including night fishing, charter boat angling and match fishing will be able to resume from March 29 in England, under new Covid guidance for the return of outdoor sports and recreation. Camping will return in Step 2, on April 12.

The new guidelines state:

• Fishing will remain permitted as outdoor recreation or exercise for up to six 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 12 (Step 2)

• Match fishing will be enabled as an organised outdoor sport from March 29. 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).

• Although the statutory stay at home restriction will be lifted, the guidance is still to encourage minimal 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’ will fully open at Step 2 (April 12) 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.

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".
Angling Trust Head of Policy, Martin Salter added: "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.”

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