It has been confirmed that angling in Wales is allowed under current regulations.
First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed in Wednesday’s Plenary that angling is allowed under the new lockdown laws but only locally.
While it is permitted, the Welsh Government continues to encourage people to stay home.
In response to conflicting information regarding whether fishing was currently permitted, the First Minister said: “As far as angling is allowed, it is allowed under our current regulations, the ones that were passed into law on Monday (April 11), but it must be done locally and people must observe social distancing.
“Here in Wales, we are encouraging people to stay home. That is the best way in which we can help one another to overcome this crisis. That’s why we’re all making the sacrifices that we are.
“But people are allowed now to leave their homes more than once a day for exercise, and if your way of taking exercise is to walk from your home to a river and to sit there, not near other people, and to go fishing, then that is allowed within the rules in Wales.
“But it must be local and it must be done in a way that observes social distancing.”
Who can I go fishing with?
As with any other form of exercise, it must be done alone or with another household member.
“Our laws are clear that you must exercise alone or with members of your household,” says the advice on the Welsh Government website.
Angling Cymru also advise people to sanitise hands regularly and avoid dangerous fishing venues or those where you cannot maintain safe distancing.
No boat fishing, overnight fishing or fishing in closed areas of land or property are permitted.
Natural Resources Wales also add that you must:
- have a valid fishing rod license
- adhere to fisheries byelaws including the close season
- have permission from the fishery owner
Where can I go fishing?
The advice on the Welsh Government website confirms that exercise should only be done locally and this is the case for fishing.
“To reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus exercise must also be done within an area local to home,” reads the Welsh Government’s guidelines.
“Exercise should not, therefore, involve going a significant distance from home and our advice is that exercise should start and finish from home.”
Common sense is also encouraged when it comes to the definition of local, as “what people perceive to be ‘local’ in Cardiff on the one hand, and in Mid Wales on the other, could be quite different”.
Speaking about it in the Plenary, the First Minister said: “‘Local’ means the common and everyday understanding of what ‘local’ is. Our advice to people in Wales is stay home: stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“That’s been our message for the last six weeks and it’s our message now. So, if you are leaving your home for exercise or for other purposes, stay local, because by staying local you stay safe.”
It remains unclear whether or not fishing lakes are allowed to reopen. Repeated efforts to contact the Welsh Government on this matter were unsuccessful.
Can I drive to go fishing?
There’s a great deal of confusion around this, but hopefully clarification should be forthcoming soon.
Natural Resources Wales, in their own guidelines, state that you can go fishing, but without driving while Angling Cyrmu announced earlier in the week that driving to fish was allowed in local areas.
However, it’s understood Angling Cymru’s guidelines are set to be amended on Friday afternoon following further discussions between Sport Wales and the Welsh Government – which should hopefully result in more clarity.
As with any form of exercise, driving to go fishing is allowed if you are disabled or have specific health issues.
For other anglers, the suggestion is new Angling Cymru advice will say driving to your nearest fishery within your local area is acceptable. But it is also expected to say you cannot drive to a fishery if it involves driving past another fishery. It has to be the nearest one, rather than a matter of preference. You can also not drive to a fishery outside of your local area.
The current official Welsh Government guidelines do cause a certain amount of confusion.
Under a heading of “Can I drive to do exercise?”, they state: “In general, exercise should not involve people driving away from home to exercise. No journeys outside your local area should be taken to exercise in the countryside, at the coast or at other beauty spots, for example – many beauty spots have been closed to prevent people gathering.”
However, under a section entitled “Will angling be permitted?”, the advice is arguably open to interpretation. It says “The regulations state exercise should be done locally, which means people cannot drive to exercise outside their local area.”