The Angling Trust has put forward proposals to gain agreement for game fishing competitions to resume in compliance with the Government’s Covid-19 guidance on organised gatherings and sporting events.
It follows the announcement on Tuesday (May 19th) that the Trust has been working with leading anglers and fisheries in the coarse match fishing community to deliver proposed best practice guidelines for the safe resumption of competitions in England whilst adhering to Covid-19 requlations. Guidance on saltwater competitions is also been developed with stakeholders in the marine fishing community to ensure that the nuances of each discipline are fully reflected.
The Angling Trust has produceed best practice guidelines for game fishing competitions with input from leading game anglers and game fisheries.
The current Government guidance states:
The limit on gatherings – no more than two, unless members of the same household – means that it is unlikely to be possible to organise amateur events or competitions at this time. The Government is clear that sports participation should be restricted to participants exercising by themselves, or with members from their same household, or a minimum of two metres apart from one member of another household, observing social distancing guidelines. Venues are advised to display signs to this effect. The police have been given powers to enforce these measures.
Some competition organisers have argued that because game angling competitions can be arranged without any form of gathering of more than two persons and that individual competitors will always be at 2 metres distance, it is possible to comply with the Government’s coronavirus guidance. The Angling Trust is seeking formal clarification from the Police and Government and have submitted the new best practice guide for game fishing competitions in support of their case.
John Horsey, England’s most capped international angler, said:
“The Angling Trust has been exemplary in helping to reopen angling in a safe and responsible manner. Competition angling provides a platform for innovation and new techniques, as well as an opportunity to pit our skills not just against the fish, but against our fellow anglers. The social side of the sport is also very important. Once the Government gives the go ahead for larger gatherings to take place, this latest initiative by the Angling Trust will form the basis for running our fly fishing competitions safely and responsibly.”
Ifor Jones, of Fishery Management Draycote-Eyebrook-Thornton, called the Angling Trust best practice guidelines “a sensible approach to ensure, when the times comes, we can return to competitive fly fishing on our reservoirs not only from the bank but also from the boats.”
Ben Thompson, Senior Competitions & Performance Manager, Angling Trust, said:
“We recognise the importance of match fishing to competitive game anglers and we share the desire to reintroduce competitions at the earliest opportunity. However, the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in the participation and delivery of competitions is of paramount importance and therefore it is essential competitions are compliant with government legislation and guidelines. We believe we have developed a framework that demonstrates how fly fishing competitions can be safety reintroduced and look forward to the resumption of competitive fly fishing when it is safe to do so.”
Consultation with insurance brokers has suggested that due to the Government’s guidance on organised gatherings and sporting events it is likely that insurers would not cover fisheries or organisers who were found to be running competitions at this time. Therefore it is crucial that agreement is received from the appropriate authorities to provide a safe and compliant route towards the resumption of competitions.
The Angling Trust’s best practice document has been presented to Sport England and the Government.
Jamie Cook, Angling Trust’s CEO, said:
“Whilst sports are restricted to participation with no more than one other individual we are confident that angling competitions can be conducted without breaching social distancing guidance. We believe our best practice guidelines show how this is safely achievable and we are working on behalf of competition anglers of all disciplines to ensure that when the Government deem it appropriate they have a clear blueprint for the resumption of competitive angling.
“I want to thank the many game anglers and fisheries who have taken responsible action and particularly those who have offered constructive input. As the organiser of 360 competitions per year, the Angling Trust focus is on ensuring a return to regular match fishing as soon as we can do so in accordance with Government guidelines.”