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Help us to get Angling Open again.


Join the SFCA today and help us to fight to get our sport reopened!

Many of you will have seen the article in the Daily Telegraph last week in which Oliver Dowden, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport at Westminster, acknowledged that, subject to the overriding need to follow scientific advice, non-contact sports such as angling might feasibly be in the forefront of activities for which restrictions could be lifted in the context of overall lockdown-easing strategies.

SFCA in Scotland, and the Angling Trust in England & Wales, have been arguing this line in recent correspondence with our respective Governments. As you may be aware, the scale and timing of lockdown restrictions is a devolved issue, although both Governments have recognised the value of consistency.  You will also have heard the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, state during her COVID media briefing last Thursday that she wants to commence a grown up conversation with the wider Scottish public about the way ahead.  The SFCA, and our partners in Angling Scotland, fully intend to be part of that conversation and to shape the discussion around the re-opening of Scottish Angling.  We have already written to officials in Marine Scotland to put forward representations supporting what seems to be emerging policy in England. We have sought to emphasise that the case for early easement in Scotland is every bit as strong as it is in England – if not stronger, given the better opportunities for distancing presented by our more generous quota of wide open spaces. 

Over the past week I have also been in touch with partners in other European nations discussing International events scheduled for the second half of this year. The topic of getting angling back up and running has been a central theme as you will imagine.  Some EU nations like the Netherlands never introduced restrictions on angling activity, with their Governing Body instead focussing on encouraging individuals to get out and fish as a healthy outdoor activity whilst complying with the social distancing policy.  The majority of other nations’ Governing Bodies are now, like us, looking to re-open angling as soon as possible.  Every country has a slightly different approach, but all accept that angling plays a vital role in the physical health and mental well-being of participants and that it is imperative that we strive to get anglers back on the bankside as soon as possible.  Doing so will also provide a mechanism to get members of the public, who would likely otherwise simply not leave their houses, out in the fresh air participating in a safe and socially distanced sport.

The case we are putting forward to Scottish Government is that:

  • Angling is an economically significant part of the Scottish economy. It supports a significant number of “upstream” jobs in manufacturing, hospitality and retail, as well as those employees and businesses directly engaged in the provision of angling facilities.
  • The position of commercial coarse fisheries is particularly concerning. These fisheries are critical to the growth and sustainability of the sport in Scotland, and are without exception privately or family owned small businesses (many operating as ‘sole traders’). Permit revenue, supplemented by onsite tackle, bait and food sales, is for most the sole source of income. Not only has that income stream dried up, but most are having to buy food for the fish stocks to replace what would normally be introduced via anglers’ bait.  We currently have very real concerns that we could lose some of our commercial fisheries if the lockdown continues into June/July as many rely on the period between April and the beginning of September to generate the majority of their profit for the year.  The SFCA has been pointing fishery owners to the various government schemes announced to support small businesses/the self-employed, but many of them seem to fall between the cracks.
  • As with every other area of the economy, the angling sector needs to be open if it is to be able to begin the pathway to recovery.  As such, allowing angling to resume in some for as early as possible in the easing some of the restrictions will allow this process to commence and undoubtedly help to protect businesses and jobs in the sector.
  • Angling is intrinsically conducted in a setting that is conducive to social distancing.  Anglers, even at commercial fisheries, are never sat closer than 8 mtrs apart and it is easy to maintain social distancing on arrival/departure at a fishery or natural venue and during the act of fishing. These facts, in our opinion, significantly reduce any risks associated with easing restrictions to allow angling to recommence in some form.
  • Angling has been proven to be hugely beneficial to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of participants.  We already know how important the act of getting out in the fresh air to get some exercise or at least a distraction from the isolation of the current lockdown is for us all.  This is the reason that the Government has been encouraging us to get out once per day and do some form of exercise. Young anglers, vulnerable individuals, and those with physical/mental health needs have been particularly affected by the lockdown. For many of our older or disabled members, even pre lockdown, the act of going out fishing has been the only exercise and fresh air they get on a regular basis.  At the moment many of these individuals, some of whom may also struggle to engage with modern technology and online communication, are finding themselves increasingly isolated.  Easing restrictions and allowing some form of recreational angling to resume will provide significant opportunities for much needed respite for these individuals.

So what can you do to help?  The simple answer is, ‘Join or renew your Individual Membership today!’ 

Maybe you’re waiting to see what happens with the current restrictions before renewing your SFCA membership, or indeed joining for the first time? Perhaps you’re thinking that if the present situation continues much longer you’ll not get much benefit from joining this year? The fact is that nothing could not be further from the truth!  The SFCA needs all coarse anglers in Scotland to join now more than ever before, for the very simple reason that the more members we represent the bigger the voice we have when engaging with Scottish Government on your behalf.  At only £8.00 an annual Adult Individual Membership costs just over 2p per day, and every member who joins will be playing a part in helping us to ensure that we all get back out on the bank sooner rather than later.

Tight Lines,

Gus Brindle, Chairman

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