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Fishing to be allowed in England

After further lobbying from the Angling Trust, which has promoted the case for angling during lockdown on the basis of the huge benefits of fishing on individual health and wellbeing, the Government has now (January 7) changed its position on banning angling with a formal announcement.

As a result, English fishermen can now join Scottish, Welsh and Irish anglers – albeit under tight restrictions – during the third national lockdown.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport stated: “fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules on staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors”.

This was confirmed by DEFRA: “Cabinet Office have now officially confirmed that angling / fishing (including sea fishing off private boats, water sports) can be considered exercise and are hence permitted.”

The permission to fish is based on fishing being an exercise, rather than as an outdoor recreation, and so comes alongside all the accompanying Covid-19 guidelines relating to exercise. Thus, any fishing will only be allowed locally: "To remain within the law you should follow the government’s guidance, and only fish locally within the district where you live. If you have no local fishing available then you will have to take your daily exercise in other ways", the Trust told its anglers. "We are in a National Lockdown and this must be respected. The law requires a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home or penalties will apply."

It also added that organised sporting gatherings are prohibited (so no match fishing), and that exercise under Covid regulations is limited to once a day, so overnight fishing is not permissible.

The Angling Trust said: "We have worked extremely hard to reach this position and we as anglers have a duty to abide by the strict conditions under which fishing is once again permitted. With infection rates and death tolls rising we must stick to the Government’s rules and ensure that angling remains part of the solution and does not cause problems".

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