Competition fishing of all types given go-ahead across England
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Competition fishing in England can be resumed immediately across all disciplines after Government approval was given this week.
Competition anglers are among the sport’s highest spenders and the return of matches will be a welcome boost for the industry.
Separate guidelines have been produced for game, coarse and sea angling, but charter boat fishing is still not compliant under current regulations.
All competitions will need to be run according to new best practice guidelines drawn up by the Angling Trust to bring competition fishing in line with COVID-19 procedures.
These include no gathering of competitors for draws or prize-givings, along with special equipment and arrangements to maintain social distancing during weigh-ins.
The Trust, which organises 360 competitions a year, has been consulting with leading anglers, organisers and fisheries to deliver the guidelines.
England internationals Steve Ringer and Dean Barlow and Riverfest organiser Dave Harrell were among those who have helped develop the new guidelines for coarse matches.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had made it clear on May 13th that it was unlikely competitions could be resumed across any sporting discipline.
But the Trust’s case for competitions that comply with Government guidelines and the specific prohibition of public gatherings caused a rethink. Failure to follow the guidelines will risk invalidating the insurance of clubs or fisheries and expose anglers to greater risk of infection.
The Trust’s document was presented last week to Sport England and the DCMS, who agreed it should form the basis for a safe resumption of competition fishing.
“It’s because we have acted sensibly and professionally that the Government is happy to see the Angling Trust guidelines as the basis for a return to competitive fishing in all angling disciplines,” said Trust CEO Jamie Cook.
“My message to match anglers and organisers is not to take this for granted, particularly when many other sports are restricted to participation with no more than one other individual. By all means enjoy fishing matches again, but please do so safely by following our guidelines to minimise the risk.”
Dave Harrell said: “The important thing now is that all match anglers respect the current situation we are in and work closely with competition organisers to ensure that we have totally safe events.
“We’ve got long daylight hours at present so we must take our time and think carefully about our actions when it comes to things like weighing in.”
Top match angler Steve Ringer also welcomed the news, but stressed: “We must make sure we justify this by meeting the guidelines and setting an example to all.”
John Horsey, England’s most capped fly fisherman, said: “Now the Government has given the go-ahead for larger gatherings to take place, this latest initiative by the Angling Trust will form the basis for running fly fishing competitions safely and responsibly.”