The Angling Trust is urging the Government to reopen fishing tackle shops in preparation for a surge to the riverbanks from Wednesday following the success of their “When We Fish Again” campaign.
As reported by Telegraph Sport last week, fishing and golf were always leading the push for recreational sport to be allowed back during the coronavirus crisis, partly because they could be practised in isolation, but also because of the detailed plans they had submitted to government.
The Angling Trust has already distributed guidance on fishing’s return and has told the estimated two million active anglers across the country that they now have a responsibility “to act as ambassadors” for their sport.
Angling has remained open in many other European countries who have successfully driven down coronavirus infection rates. The sport has also enjoyed a rise in popularity.
“If we fish safely we will continue to support the national effort to combat Covid-19 transmission while being able to enjoy our wonderful sport,” said Jamie Cook, the chief executive of the Angling Trust.
The Angling Trust’s head of policy Martin Salter said that it was “absolutely important now to open the infrastructure of fishing, of which angling shops are an important part”.
The Angling Trust estimates that the sport is worth £4 billion annually to the UK economy and, just as cycling shops have remained open during the lockdown so that people can still buy and repair bikes and their components, they want that logic to extend to fishing tackle shops.
Salter said that the sport was “delighted” to be back and grateful that Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has provided further details on Sunday night about which sports could return this week.
Guidance has now been sent out to fisheries and angling clubs, although there is an acceptance that not all venues can necessarily be ready as soon as Wednesday.
The guidance includes keeping anglers 15m apart while fishing, consideration of a phased reopening, no competitions or keepnets and keeping shared facilities like cafes, fishing huts and clubhouses closed. Clubs and fisheries should also minimise contact with gates, locks, boats and catch-return boxes and regularly clean any items that will be handled by anglers. It is also suggested that clubs and fisheries should consider Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff members and volunteers. Remote and contactless forms of payment and membership are also advised.