A phased back-to-fishing proposal forwarded to the Scottish Government in the hope that COVID-19 lockdown rules are relaxed soon has put Angling Scotland (AS) into focus, but many anglers north of the Border have indicated on social media that they are unaware of the organisation.

David Ogg, chairman, revealed today (SAT) that AS were at the start of their media awareness plan before the pandemic, but volunteer board members are continuing to work in the background to ensure an orderly return to sea, coarse and game fishing.

They are also discussing a blueprint to boost the AS brand and to chart the future development of the Kinross-based organisation.

Looking back, the seeds were sown a decade ago and Ogg explained: "Then, sea and game fishing organisations had their own identity and ways of operating, but sportscotland were pushing for one overall body.

"For various reasons, including the fact that officials of the three organisations were volunteers and time was a factor, it was not until 2017, again at the behest of sportscotland, that Angling Scotland was formed."

Things evolved and adverts for chairman, communications treasurer were issued in late 2019. Ogg and a communications lead were appointed in January. The treasurer post is still vacant.

Ogg, who is retired from the RAF, added: "We are now planning for the future and have started a social media awareness campaign. An interview with me about our proposal for a phased return to angling after the lockdown was aired last week on Facebook.

"More of this kind of projection is planned soon as we have Facebook, Instagram and other media platforms along with our website, but COVID-19 has halted some of our plans."

Details proposals for the membership organisation have already been presented to the annual meeting of the Scottish Anglers National Association (SANA) in February and the detailed plans will be submitted to members the Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers (SFSA) and Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling (SFCA) early next year.

Currently, the membership fee is governed by whichever discipline you are associated with. Coarse anglers join SCFA for £8, game with SANA for £20 and sea fishermen with SFSA for £20 and they are all now linked to AS.

The chairman, who is a past chair of SANA, said: "We are trying to keep as busy as we can, working in the background, developing the brand, but members of our board are volunteers and are hard-pressed at the moment.

"Admittedly, there is a lot of work to be done and angling is not top of people's agenda at the moment. We all want to get through this (pandemic) and our social media programme is starting to roll out.

"Anglers will begin to learn more and see what we are all about in the near future. We all want to get back to fishing but we must adhere to what the Scottish Government says and our proposal to them is for a phased return."

The AS approach is to have a basic minimum set of measures introduced and hopefully expanded by stages.

The organisation wants fishing in the sea and in freshwater from the shore/bank (including piers and jetties) of from a boat, inflatable, RIB, kayak or float tube carrying one person only.And critical to the proposals a 40-miles radius for travel and anglers would have to make the journey alone unless they are accompanied by a member of the same household.

Fisheries and angling clubs should, under the plan, make permits, season tickets and club memberships available by post or online and payments should be processed by contactless card or electronic channels.

 

Anglers on-site would be requested to observe minimum social distancing standards and fishing tackle or any other items should not be shared.

Cafes and clubhouses at fisheries should remain closed under the plan but owners should be permitted to sell takeaway sandwiches on the same basis as takeaway food businesses.

And the proposal stressed: "Fisheries or angling clubs repeatedly found to be disregarding or tolerating breaches of these guidelines or general COVID-19 restrictions may be ordered to close their facilities. 

"We firmly believe that Angling is a low risk outdoor activity that government could permit, in line with overarching restrictions on travel and social distancing, without risk of increasing transmission rates of COVID-19."