Anglers also believe that they have a compelling case and have cited Germany, Holland, Norway, Denmark and Ireland as countries that have continued to allow fishing while still limiting the coronavirus spread.
“The majority of anglers practise self-isolation and social distancing as a matter of course – anglers tend to seek solitude even in normal circumstances,” said Jamie Cook, the chief executive of the Angling Trust.
In its submission to the Government, the Angling Trust also explained that 62 per cent of the sport’s participants identified fishing as their sole physical activity. “For many, this is their only exercise,” said Mr Cook.
Angling is also estimated to contribute around £4 billion to the UK economy and, in Holland, fishing permit sales have increased by 30 per cent during the coronavirus lockdown.
With the UK’s trout season usually starting in early April and the coarse season opening on rivers in mid-June, anglers are particularly keen to see the benefits of one of the wettest winters in recent years.
Martin Salter, the former MP for Reading and the head of policy at the Angling Trust, has suggested a phased resumption, stressing fishing’s diverse appeal and its potential to reduce pressure on other public spaces.
Sir Charles Walker, who is the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Angling, also cited the mental-health benefits. It is an activity which is already prescribed by several NHS Trusts for mental health wellbeing, as well as military charities to combat post-traumatic stress disorder.
“People are more vulnerable – the longer this goes on, we are storing up a mental-health crisis,” said Mr Walker. “Allowing people to resume their lives step by step will be a really powerful weapon in mitigating those risks.” Mr Walker now hopes that other sports can follow angling’s lead.
“The focus has been on professional sport which covers a fraction of the population,” he said. “All of us weekend warriors, putting on our football boots or grabbing our fishing rods, covers millions and millions of people.