Advice for clubs, fisheries & other organisations

This is our dedicated area for clubs, fisheries & other angling organisations. We’ll post all our latest guidance for you here. We’ve also posted details about our support team who are dedicated to working with angling organisations to access funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

General Questions

1. Can we keep our waters open to fishing during the current situation?

We strongly recommend that all fisheries remain closed in order to comply with the current restrictions on ‘non-essential travel’ and permissible reasons for leaving home.

These now have the force of law under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Currently the restrictions are as follows:

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home

The Government has made it clear that angling is not currently categorised a permitted exercise and travelling to go fishing is not allowable. The police can now issue fines for being outside without good reason.

The Government’s own fisheries and aquaculture agency, CEFAS, has issued the following guidelines in respect of recreational fishing:

“The requirements on social distancing mean you should not be leaving your house in order to go fishing recreationally.”

This is fully supported by the Environment Agency.

Both Sport England and the Government have made it clear that all outdoor sporting activity should cease and all the major governing bodies have issued advice accordingly, including the Angling Trust.

However, the Angling Trust is working on a set of guidelines for recreational fishing that we will be putting to ministers, once the virus has peaked, that could be applied when relaxing the rules to allow certain, largely solitary activities to resume. We will publish these in due course.

Until the situation changes the strong advice is not to fish but to STAY SAFE, STAY HOME, SUPPORT THE NHS and help SAVE LIVES.

2. We have club matches scheduled for the coming weeks, should we go ahead with these?

The Government have advised that they will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public.

On this basis any matches or events you have organised should not go ahead until we are advised otherwise by the Government.

We will update you when these restrictions are lifted.

3. What advice should we give to our members / customers?

Whilst we fully understand the role angling has in promoting active lifestyles, physical health and mental wellbeing we have to ask anglers to adhere to the current guidance and refrain from fishing.

4. As a fisheries manager, water bailiff or accredited club volunteer am I allowed to travel by vehicle to the fishery to carry out essential work to ensure the fishery is secure and no-one is fishing it?

Travel is authorised for persons acting on official duties and travelling to or from work when they cannot work from home. The Government are not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still travel to work and there is no stipulation requiring this to be paid work.

We would advise that this type of work is classified as essential to your fishery and that, obviously, this is not possible to be done from your home. Further, we would advise that where a fishery is fenced and gated you change the locks immediately.

Any attempts to exploit loopholes in the legislation by allowing bailiffs to continue fishing waters as part of their ‘security duties’ would be seen as highly questionable and leave both the fishery and the individuals open to challenge by the police. Furthermore, it is likely that the relevant insurance cover would be rendered invalid. (See FAQ 8)

Police Advice

The National Policing Lead on Rural & Wildlife Crime’s Staff Officer has advised us that:

“The Police support and protect the UK’s infrastructure, including the recreational fishing industry, recognising that waters and commercial interests still require protection at this difficult time. If a person’s essential travel is ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportionate’ then they should fulfil their roles protecting fisheries, whilst taking as much care as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Bailiffs and Club Volunteers

For clubs that do not have employees then we would advise that nominated volunteers – for example club bailiffs – could carry out these activities and would further advise that they carry a letter from the relevant club official explaining why these are viewed as ‘essential activities’ and cannot be done from home.

At all times, Government guidelines should be followed to stop the risk of spreading the virus; there should be no more than two employees / volunteers in attendance, they should ensure that at all times they are a minimum of two metres apart and should wash their hands thoroughly before arriving at the fishery and afterwards. They should carry bio-wipes to clean gates, locks or any surface likely to be touched by others before and after use. If bio-wipes are not available use disposable gloves.

Further information on Fisheries Enforcement

5. As a fisheries manager / owner or accredited volunteer am I allowed to travel by vehicle to the fishery to feed the fish and check that they are still healthy and if I think there are disease issues can I still report this to the Fish Health Inspectorate?

We would advise that this type of work is classified as essential to your fishery and that, obviously, this is not possible to be done from your home therefore travel is permitted.

With regards to the feeding of fish and fish welfare issues please refer to the guidance issued by the Institute of Fisheries Management.

With regards to reporting to the Fish Health Inspectorate please see their latest advice.

Bailiffs and Volunteers

For clubs that do not have employees then we would advise that nominated volunteers – for example, club bailiffs – could carry out these activities and would further advise that they carry a letter from the relevant club official explaining why these are viewed as ‘essential activities’ and cannot be done from home.

At all times government guidelines should be followed to stop the risk of spreading the virus; there should be no more than two employees / volunteers in attendance, they should ensure that at all times they are a minimum of two metres apart and should wash their hands thoroughly before arriving at the fishery and afterwards. They should carry bio-wipes to clean gates, locks or any surface likely to be touched by others before and after use, if bio-wipes are not available use disposable gloves.

6. My club is classified as an Undertaker under the Reservoir Act for a high risk categorised reservoir. Are we allowed to travel to the dam wall for regular inspections and to clear spillways?

We have sought clarity from the Environment Agency with regards to this question and their response is “The safety of High Risk Reservoirs is critical to the protection of the public downstream and would urge owners to continue making sure their reservoirs remain safe but also they need to consider their safety in light of Covid-19 too.” Government are presently preparing a Regulatory Position Statement with regards to this and if you would send us your contact details we will forward this to you once we have received it.

7. We are a trout fishery and we normally stock our waters at this time of year. Are fish farms allowed to continue this in light of the restrictions?

Please contact your fish farm for advice on this matter. We understand that this is allowed for fish welfare reasons, but their trade associations will have the most up to date information from DEFRA.

8. If a club or fishery allows fishing during a period of restricted movement would that invalidate their insurance?

Insurers will always require and expect the insured to act reasonably and follow guidelines from their NGB and Government. The insured should also follow legal requirements and the law. Failure to follow guidelines will give insurers cause to consider whether the insured has acted reasonably or not. If it is determined that the insured has not acted reasonably or taken reasonable precautions, the insurer may not pay claims. If the insured does not follow legal requirements, insurers are most likely to say that the insured has invalidated their insurance and there would be no cover.

9. Is checking our otter fence classed as essential maintenance?

Checking your otter fence should form part of your essential fisheries management tasks that need to be undertaken for fish welfare purposes, such as feeding and water quality checks.

Essential otter fencing maintenance

  • The boundary fence in its entirety must be checked regularly, including essential repairs to splayed or broken wires and particularly those at or near ground level.
  • Ensure skirts continue to be securely affixed to the ground and ideally covered with spoil.
  • If rabbit/chicken wire has been used, look out for larger holes which could be used by an otter to gain entry.
  • It’s essential the boundary is checked immediately following severe gales and any damage repaired immediately.
  • To assist with the visual inspection of the fence line, encroaching vegetation may need to be controlled on a regular basis. Avoid using brushcutters, since these can easily cut the wire.
  • Ensure that all inlets & outlets, both above & below the water level are secure and otter proof, especially following periods of heavy rainfall.
  • Ensure the gates continue to close properly allowing no gap greater than 50mm on either the hanging or clashing side, or underneath the gate, whereby an otter may gain access. And, maintain the solid base beneath the gate to prevent an otter being able to dig under.
  • Look for possible entry points being dug in, or out by rabbits, badgers etc.
  • Unfortunately, some sites have suffered from deliberate vandalism of their fence lines in the past, with holes being cut through the fence, so it’s imperative to check the boundary fence and to maintain good relations.
  • If you use either an electric fence to protect your fishery or incorporate electric scare wires in addition to a ‘barrier’ fence, then please ensure the circuit is intact and not shorting out and that the battery life is adequate.
  • Finally, if you think you may have a problem and are unsure of the point of entry, then consider installing a trail camera, which may reduce unnecessary travel.
10. I have seen people acting in breach of the regulations and/or evidence of poaching, pollution and potential fish theft. I wish to report them, who should I contact?

Government advice is clear; travelling to fish is not deemed essential travel and therefore people fishing would contravene the current regulations. Enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of the police who can issue fines and can be contacted by calling 101. Fish theft is also a matter for the police.

Other matters, such as pollution and damage to fisheries, fall within the responsibilities of the Environment Agency and their incident hotline is 0800 80 70 60.

You can also contact the Angling Trust support line on the numbers listed in the section below. We can refer matters on to our Regional Enforcement Managers and the Environment Agency where appropriate.

Should you wish to inform us in writing by all means email us at admin@anglingtrust.net.

For full information and guidance on reporting please see our Fisheries Enforcement section.

11. Downloadable PDF Summary

The Angling Trust has produced this downloadable Summary and Accreditation Form for the use of angling clubs and fisheries.

Coronavirus – Summary and Accreditation

 

Our latest updates

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More information about the Self Employment Income Support scheme and how to make a claim.

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Institute of Fisheries Management -  Advice for Fisheries Closed During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Funding advice for angling organisations

Sport England Community Emergency Fund

Sport England has announced a funding package to help sport and physical activity get through the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. The money can be used to help angling clubs cope with the short and long-term impact of the pandemic. The package is a combination of National Lottery and Government funding.

Key facts

  • £20 million available to provide immediate support to those who most need it.
  • Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available to help cover ongoing costs at a time when revenue has been affected.
  • New Angling Trust Club Helpline setup to access Sport England Community Emergency Fund.

The new Angling Trust Sport England Community Emergency Fund Helpline is here to assist angling clubs facing financial concerns so that when fishing can happen again angling will bounce-back and be ready to cater for the hundreds of thousands of anglers that are champing at the bit to go fishing again.

Click here to find out more

Small Business Grant Scheme

Funding of a one-off £10,000 grant, to help ongoing business costs, for all small business based in England that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief or your business already occupies property.

How to access the scheme

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Retail & Hospitality Grant Scheme

Funding up to £25,000 per property via a cash grant for businesses based in England in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

How to access the scheme

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Business Rate Holiday

The government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

To be delivered by the British Business Bank, this new scheme will launch this week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

How to access the scheme

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments, you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

You can use this scheme if you’re self employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus.

The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. The scheme may be extended if needed.

How much you’ll get

If eligible, you will get a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the last three tax years (where applicable):

To work out the average HMRC will add together the total trading profit for the 3 tax years (where applicable) then divide by 3 (where applicable) and use this to calculate a monthly amount.

It will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months.

How to apply

You cannot apply for this scheme yet, HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

Please do not contact HMRC now as by doing so will only delay the urgent work being undertaken to introduce the scheme.

For all the information about this funding scheme please follow the link below; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme 

Angling Organisation Support Line

Our dedicated team are here to help you – call the number below – we will take a few basic details and pass them through to our dedicated team to call you back and offer as much support as possible.

07495 433626

Mark Wilton
(Available Monday – Friday 9.00am - 7.00pm)

07854 239721

Dave Evans
(Available Monday – Friday 9.00am - 7.00pm)

07949 703206

Jake Davoille
(Available Saturday - Sunday 12.00pm - 3.00pm)

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