COMMENT: More than a bit of a bastard

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THE English speaking world is spread far and wide across the globe and whilst it may comprise “peoples divided by a common language” the one thing that unites us at the moment is the seemingly relentless procession of disasters from the appalling bushfires in Australia to the record rainfalls and floods in Britain and now the global coronavirus pandemic.

Until COVID-19 hit I thought the horrendous impact of your bushfires with 34 dead and 3,500 homes destroyed was as about as bad as it was going to get for a while. How wrong was that? It now seems that even countries with advanced healthcare systems like Britain and Australia are going to run out of hospital beds and god help you if you are poor and without medical cover in America.

I guess the other factor uniting us is our predilection for electing absolute cretins who are totally ill equipped to handle a national crisis with even a passable degree of competence. The USA tops the charts with Trump who thinks the Coronavirus is either a “hoax”, a Democratic Party “conspiracy” or something that will just melt away. We have Boris "Bloody" Johnson who has just encouraged us Brits to catch the virus in sufficient numbers so that the UK can develop something called “herd immunity”. Thanks for nothing Boris.

And then you guys have Scomo. The climate change denialist who cuts funding for the fire service and buggers of on holiday while his country burns. What on earth did we do to deserve such buffoons?

Anyway, what has this got to do with fishing?

Quite a bit actually. Although past retirement age I’m still doing a bit of work for the Angling Trust, the UK’s peak recreational fishing body. Last week was dominated by preparing advice and guidance for our staff, members, volunteers and the angling community at large in respect of COVID-19. As you can see HERE the central message was keep fishing but avoid large or unnecessary indoor gatherings. Our major tackle and trade show - The Big One - has just been cancelled along with a number of international competitions which would require air or ferry travel.

Domestic competitions

At the present time it is our intention to continue to deliver our planned range of domestic competitions and encourage clubs and fisheries to do the same. However, we are strongly recommending clubs, organisers or anyone involved in delivering angling events follow the most current advice and guidance issued by government and our sporting institutions. In addition they should take steps to minimise large indoor gatherings by holding the draws and prize giving outdoors if possible with alcohol based anti-bacterial handwash available at registration desks. Handshakes and unnecessary physical contact should definitely be avoided. 

In addition we are:

Reviewing all the events we organise, such as regional forums, conferences and workshops to see whether these can be postponed or cancelled.

Assessing, where appropriate, whether our employees can carry out their role by working from home - in addition we’ll also be using our video conferencing technology to take part in both internal and external meetings remotely.

Strongly advising clubs and other angling organisations on the same basis to postpone meetings, such as AGMs to help with containment and for the wellbeing of their members.

Angling Trust Chief Executive Jamie Cook said:

“Like many organisations, we’re closely monitoring the risks associated with coronavirus. The most important thing is for us to take care of our employees, volunteers and teams and not to do anything that puts us - or those around us - at risk.

Where appropriate, anglers should carry on fishing and encourage others to do so. Angling gets people out into the fresh air and away from crowded, indoor situations where infections are more likely to spread. However, we need to be vigilant and take precautions to minimise the risk to ourselves and others. I would be encouraging everyone involved in angling to follow the official advice and adapt your plans and events accordingly.”

There’s no real upside to the coronavirus save for the fact that there are few sports where "self isolation" is more in evidence than fishing. Fish more and work less might seem a decent, if short term respite from watching our families and friends get ill, the supermarkets run out of food and our savings dwindle as the stock markets crash. Like I said, no matter where you are living right now it’s more than a bit of a bastard.

Stay safe and look after yourselves.

 

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