LONDON (Reuters) – Fishing in England has seen a post COVID-19 lockdown boom as more people take advantage of the mental health and wellbeing benefits of casting a rod and being at one with nature, the Environment Agency said on Thursday.
The agency said over 100,000 more people are angling, with a surge in rod licence sales by nearly a fifth compared to the same time last year.
Fishing retailers have also reported huge demand for beginners’ fishing kits and tackle since lockdown restrictions eased on May 13.
Angling was one of the first sports allowed to restart as England inched toward normality.
There are currently over 750,000 anglers with a licence in England and Wales and the Environment Agency is targeting 1 million by 2025.
“As lockdown restrictions have eased, there has been a boom in licence sales as now, more than ever, people have a desire to get outdoors and escape their daily stresses,” said Heidi Stone, the agency’s fisheries manager.
Medical professionals are also backing the call to fish and the pursuit of outdoor activities to help people deal with the impact of the pandemic.
“Growing evidence suggests that spending time in ‘green’ and ‘blue’ spaces has a very positive effect on our mental health, providing protective and restorative benefits,” said Antonis Kousoulis, director of the Mental Health Foundation.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Stephen Addison)