When We Fish Again – Update with Jamie Cook

Newly appointed Angling Trust CEO has certainly had a ‘baptism of fire’ with some of the worst flooding in recent history greeting his arrival, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic closing tackle shops and driving us from the banks. Earlier this week, Jamie and his team published When We Fish Again – aimed at getting us back on the bank as quickly and safely as possible. It’s certainly provoked a lot of interest and feedback so Jamie has set out some of the answers and clarifications to anglers who want to know more.

We need your support – write to your MP!

Earlier this week we published When We Fish Again a comprehensive set of phased proposals to government, drawn up in consultation with some of the biggest names in all branches of our sport, aimed at getting us back on the bank as quickly and safely as possible. We’ve been delighted with the overwhelmingly positive reaction. It’s provoked a lot of interest and feedback so I wanted to respond to some of the questions raised, as well as call on my fellow anglers to help us with the next steps. We’ve made sure every MP in the country has received a copy of our report and our next job is get them to persuade ministers to adopt our plans to get us back fishing…

What can you do to help ?

I need every angler reading this to send a short email to their own MP asking them to back our plans to ensure fishing is at the front of the queue and that we are allowed out on the bank as soon as it is safe to do so. We’ve made this as easy as possible – it takes less than two minutes – and it really will make a difference.

Please click the link below and you will be redirected to a site where you can download a message to send straight to your own MP. This really needs to be done by Monday so please share this with your fishing friends, via social media and encourage your loved ones (who might possibly be delighted to have you out of the house) to do this too…it really is so important.

WRITE TO YOUR MP – CLICK HERE

What’s the timeframe?

We are in the hands of government and our proposals are targeted at the next review of the lockdown restrictions on May 7th. The proposal we have delivered lays out how recreational fishing could be safely permitted and the huge benefits to physical health, mental wellbeing, the economy and even rural crime that this would deliver. Ultimately however the Government have to make the right decision for the nation as a whole and we must respect that we are part of a much bigger picture.

Who drew up the Report?

 The report was a team effort across multiple disciplines. This report is representative of our entire community – we have taken input and technical advice from across the sport. I am delighted to have received consultation and advice from Angling Trust Ambassadors together with contributions from a number of high-profile anglers drawn from all disciplines. We also had input from; members of the Angling Trade, Fishery owners, the Institute of Fisheries Management, Salmon and Trout Conservation and the Canal & River Trust. I apologies in advance for those I have not named but special thanks must go to Ali Hamidi from Korda/Guru, England matchmen Steve Ringer and Dean Barlow, fly-fishing expert Charles Jardine and Sea Angler columnist Dave Lewis whose expertise and hard work have been invaluable.

We have had amazing support from some of the countries top anglers, including Steve Ringer, Ali Hamidi, Charles Jardine, Dean Barlow and Dave Lewis.

How far can we travel to fish?

Until angling is a permitted activity it is not a valid reason to travel at all. The guidelines we proposed stated that fishing should only be permitted locally. There is no five mile rule and there never was. When recreational fishing resumes we propose that it will be subject to the same travel guidelines the government and police apply to other permitted activities.

We quoted the Canal & River Trust data on access to waterways to reassure ministers that a resumption of angling would not require people to be driving all over the country to go fishing.

I have written personally to the Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove to clarify this point and I appreciate all of the feedback I have received on this matter.

Why more than 2 metres distance?

The simple answer is that if we don’t avoid overcrowding on fisheries we will be in breach of the government’s rules on public gatherings.

The recommended pegging distance the Angling Trust employs is 15 metres and we have consulted with fishery owners concerned at how they might manage a sudden influx of anglers. Being able to limit density in this way serves a number of benefits for the short-term resumption of participation. In attempting to show how our sport offers sensible and natural social distancing, ensuring that distance between pegs is maintained should allow us to prove this point with a responsible, belt and braces approach.

Why no keepnets?

Match fishing simply can’t happen under the current guidelines on social distancing. The government’s main concern with permitting any sport to resume is avoiding groups of people meeting. One of our key arguments to permit fishing to resume is that ‘angling is a largely solitary activity’ and however well-managed a competition is, there is no way to avoid it being a gathering of people from different households.

The restriction on keepnets is part of this and was included as this was strongly advised by the experts we consulted. Many experienced competition anglers have been supportive of this position, however there have been a vocal minority in the competitions sphere who are unhappy.

We are considering how best to manage this point and continue to take on board sensible solutions.

So how will match fishing be resumed?

The transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 which will allow match fishing to resume will happen as soon as the government guidelines permit. The biggest risk to that transition is our inability to safely adhere to Phase 1.

As soon as there are further relaxations of restrictions on public gatherings that make match fishing and other activities viable and in line with government guidance we will be fully prepared to move to Phase 2. I would add that the Angling Trust run the biggest competitions in the industry and we are still currently aiming, subject to government guidance, to begin delivering these competitions in June 2020.

What has been the reaction from the tackle trade?

We’ve had great support and you will note the endorsement from Peter Drennan, which is hugely appreciated along with the Angling Trades Association (ATA). I’ve also had Robin Morley from Daiwa, Alan Blair from Nash and Dave Preston getting in touch to offer their support. I can’t thank Danny Fairbrass and the Korda team enough – they have been simply outstanding. Any other members of the trade who are reading this and are supportive of what we are trying to achieve please do get in touch.

Peter Drennan has endorsed our proposals

We are already working with the ATA on specific guidance and best practice for retailers which will be available alongside the other support on our hub.

I want to make it clear that we want to see tackle shops re-opening on day one to serve anglers. Obviously, they will need to comply with social distancing guidelines in place for other retail outlets and we say this clearly in our report to government. Along with angling clubs, local tackle shops are the lifeblood of our sport and they both need all of the help we can give them – please, wherever possible support your local clubs and retailers.

And Finally?

 My first 100 days as CEO of the Angling Trust..

Nobody could have predicted what the world has thrown at us so far in 2020 – so many people were affected by the February floods and there are many of us who have lost family, friends and loved ones through the current pandemic. I offer my sincere condolences to everyone affected. The impacts of the past 100 days will have far reaching and deeply embedded impacts upon our society, our economy and our community. It has been a baptism of fire for me to start at the Angling Trust during this period, I certainly never expected to be campaigning for people to not fish within a couple of months in post. For me, during this period where we have not been able to fish, it has been the personal stories of what fishing means to individuals and the benefits it brings to their lives which have been the most poignant and shows just how important it is that we as a community get behind this campaign. I am acutely aware of the challenges this situation has placed on businesses and individuals who make their living from the sport we all love. Many of you have reached out to the Angling Trust for help through this period and whilst I am pleased that we have been able to support a large number of you, I’m also aware that others reading this are still facing significant hardship.

Jamie in less stressful times, with Martin Salter our Head of Policy.

To those of you who have joined the Angling Trust over the past two weeks thank you, your support is hugely appreciated – For anyone who is not currently a member but supports what we are doing please CLICK HERE to join us and help play your part.

Look out for further updates on the Angling Trust website and Facebook pages. I’m doing a Facebook Live with Ali Hamidi on Monday at 18.30 so will field further questions then.

Keep safe and I hope to see you (from a safe distance) on the bank soon!

All the best

Jamie

Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook enjoys all forms of angling.

 

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