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Government performs U-turn and allows fishing in England during lockdown


The UK Government has performed a dramatic U-turn and rescinded its ban on fishing in England during the national lockdown.

Following representations from the Angling Trust, the body that represents fishermen in the country, the Head of Sports Participation at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that fishing is allowed as exercise so long as the participants adhere to the rules on staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors.

Earlier this week Angling International reported that despite lobbying the Government at the ‘highest level’ the Angling Trust had failed in its attempt to save angling from being banned. The about-turn has been confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It said in a statement: ‘The Cabinet Office has now officially confirmed that angling/fishing – including sea fishing off private boats – can be considered exercise and hence are permitted.”

Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook welcomed the news. He 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.”

The Angling Trust asked anglers to bear the following points in mind:

• This is a strictly limited resumption of local fishing and very different to how it had been allowed to operate since May.

• England is in a national lockdown and this must be respected. The law requires a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home or penalties will apply.

• The Government has recognised that fishing can be seen as exercise, which is expressly permitted under the lockdown rules, although outdoor recreation is not.

• Organised sports gatherings are prohibited so no match fishing. The exercise is limited to once a day so no overnight fishing whatsoever.

• 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.

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