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Fishing resumes as lockdown restrictions ease in Europe

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Restrictions on fishing have been relaxed in Italy, Belgium and Slovenia as countries across Europe come out of lockdown.

The veil that has hung over the European fishing industry for the last two months showed signs of lifting this week with the easing of angling restrictions in Italy, Belgium and Slovenia and a proposal to do the same in Ireland.

Fishing in Italy is again permissible, providing anglers conform to regional regulations, as phase two of the government’s scheme to gradually restart the Italian economy and social life kicks in.

The government has deemed fishing as among the activities that can restart, identifying it as a sector that has important economic and employment interests. It is perfectly compatible with the social distancing required for the future and has low risk of contagion, say ministers.

Belgium has also given the go-ahead to angling in all its forms, but with certain rules. A minimum distance of five metres between anglers has been imposed, while boat trips must be taken alone or with someone living under the same roof. Social distancing of one and a half metres must be observed for the latter. Competitions remain banned until further notice.

In Slovenia, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has announced that individual fishing is now allowed within the boundaries of the angler’s residence, unless the municipality decides otherwise.

Meanwhile, the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland (NCFFI) has presented a five-phase plan to Sport Ireland and Sport NI that will allow anglers back on the water on May 18th and going through to phase five starting August 10th. 

Phase one permits angling to take place in groups of up to four and within 5km of their home. Boat anglers must comply with social distancing. Phase five will allow NCFFI and larger competitions to take place in accordance with COVID-19 Competition Protocols. Angling festivals can also resume from August 10th in accordance with NCFFI Festival Best Practice Guidelines.

“It is great to have clear view of a responsible return to the bank and a planned end to the lockdown,” said NCFFI Chairman Der Casey.  “Anglers can look forward to engaging with nature as they enjoy their sport, a much-needed boost to our mental wellbeing. 

“Our organisation is an all-Ireland body representing coarse, game and predator anglers. In the coming months, we hope to see a coordinated approach, North and South, to opening up our sport. I’m looking forward to seeing tackle shops open and banksides occupied again. But it will take time and patience to get fully up and running.”

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