European fishing head predicts increase in participation
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The pandemic that has had such a devastating effect on fishing could increase participation in the sport in the long term, according to the President of Europe’s biggest fishing organisation.
Fred Bloot, President of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), says that the isolated nature of the sport and the fact that fisheries have remained open in some countries, has attracted newcomers and lapsed anglers.
“Families who have not been fishing in recent times are now going again because it is one of the few activities allowed,” he told Angling International. “It is a way for them to get outdoors and enjoy themselves in different surroundings.
“Fathers and other adults who have not been fishing for 10 or 20 years have taken it up again. Now we hope that a lot of these people will continue to fish when we come out of this terrible situation.”
The EAA represents 12 national organisations across Europe and has three million members. Bloot is also Deputy Director of Sportvisserij, the umbrella organisation for angling clubs in the Netherlands, which promotes recreational fishing at government level.
The Netherlands has been more fortunate than most countries in Europe from a fishing perspective. While the sport was postponed in neighbouring Belgium, France and Italy, and limited in Germany, Dutch waters have stayed open and angling has been allowed providing regulations are adhered to.
All waters, both urban and rural, have remained open – with the exception of put-and-take trout fisheries where social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Charter boat fishing is also banned because it involves groups fishing in a confined space.
“Our message to anglers on our Sportvisserij website is to go fishing but to stick to protocol,” says Bloot. “Go fishing but not in groups.
“Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the Netherlands. Some of the banks have been very busy, and not all these people are established anglers.”
Those shops that wanted to remain open have done so in compliance with distancing and cleaning rules. Online retailing has also generated good sales.
Tackle shops were not originally considered eligible for government subsidy, but after representation from Sportvisserij they have been included.
The EAA has been in regular contact with its member associations and with EFTTA, and has people working in the European Parliament in Brussels. “It is vitally important we maintain a presence there so that fishing doesn’t lose ground during this time,” added Bloot.
“We are also helping bodies like the Angling Trust in the UK by sharing information, including how we have successfully worked with our government.“Everyone must work together. If we don’t then some companies, retailers and organisations won’t exist in a year’s time.”