YES! We Can Now Officially Go Fishing in Lockdown Level 3
It’s official: All recreational fishing is now allowed under level 3, including boat fishing – ending the fishing lockdown for all types of fishing except charters, but clubs must still stay closed
Update: 3 June 2020 – boat launches now allowed + surveys, but clubs to stay closed
Great news! The fishing lockdown is over. All recreational fishing is now allowed under level 3. This after Minister of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, tweeted that all recreational fishing is now permitted, except charter fishing – effectively ending the months-long fishing lockdown in South Africa too. And the news was gazetted, making it official, but boats couldn’t launch without SAMSA confirmation.
All fishing, including recreational fishing is permitted with the exception of charter fishing. Fishers must ensure that they have a valid permit. All regulations relating to social distancing, health protocols, movement and the prohibition of gatherings apply. #level3lockdown
— Minister of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries 🇿🇦 (@BarbaraCreecy_) June 1, 2020
SAMSA CONFIRMS BOAT FISHING ALSO NOW ALLOWED
While recreational fishing was allowed from 2 June 2020, Transnet Port operations warned no boats may launch for boat fishing until SAMSA issues its official notice. And that notice finally came on 3 June 2020 in SAMSA Marine Notice No. 31 (extract, screenshot):
And it’s a good thing too, because the sardines are active all the way up the east coast!
This also means that surveys and certification are now also allowed. But, ski-boat clubs will have to wait a little longer to open.
For updates on this, keep an eye on this post or sign up for updates.
Until this good news, South Africa was virtually the only country of all those we’ve been tracking that still had a fishing lockdown in June 2020. You can read the whole story below:
We bring you the latest updates on fishing in lockdown in South Africa, with views, news and opinions. Plus updates on where you can fish in the world and how anglers feel about the whole blanket ban on recreational fishing.
WATCH: ASFN FISHING COMMENT + PETITION ON THE LOCKDOWN
SAMSA CONFIRMS FISHING LOCKDOWN
On 24 May 2020, marine safety body SAMSA issued notice of their official risk-based approach to COVID-19, as per government regulations. This was on the same day the South African President announced that the country would go to Level 3 lockdown by 1 June 2020.
In the notice, SAMSA confirmed that only commercial fishing was allowed in Level 4 and 3, and that recreational fishing and recreational-subsistence fishing would only be allowed in Level 2, along with kayaking and canoeing. With no one able to tell us when Level 2 might be.
SAMSA also advised that no Certificate of Fitness (CoF) small vessel surveys may be conducted until Level 2. The only surveys allowed under Level 3 are Local General Safety Certificate (LGSC), which is for commercial fishing.
THE STORY: FISHING IN LOCKDOWN SOUTH AFRICA
There’s been a complete blanket ban on recreational fishing of all kinds across South Africa since the SA government announced it’s COVID-19 lockdown from 26 March. And, even after a move from Level 5 to Level 4 in its tiered easing system on 1 May 2020, and the announcement of a move to Level 3 on 1 June 2020, recreational angling is still banned.
The official line is we’ll only be able to go recreational fishing in lockdown Level 2. But there’s absolutely no indication of when that will be. Unlike the rest of the world, who’s governments have been transparent with their citizens and have by-and-large all put an end to lockdowns and returned to work, South Africans (and those of a few other African countries around us) have absolutely no clue when what is going to happen.
And, amid the SA government’s allowing malls and shops to re-open, a lot of people are questioning the logic around this.
What we want to know is: When will we go fishing again?
When reviewing all the government communication and media reports on the topic, there’s also no overt or official statement explaining why recreational fishing specifically is not allowed. Which begs another question: Is there any diligent and careful thought behind the ban? Or is it just a matter of convenience – a blanket ban on all sports, with no regard or understanding for the nature of the individual sport? (Note: Recreational fishing is considered a sport, but there’s a notable difference between two guys in a dingy and tens of thousands of people crammed into a stadium.)
WHAT’S THE LOGIC?
A lot of people have asked that. And, since fishing is an often-solitary outdoors activity – usually far away from people, in small groups (if even) and, in the case of boat fishing, often miles away from the nearest shore – there are a lot of people who believe that recreational fishing should not only be allowed but is probably far safer than sitting at home in a crowded city (see the opinions lower down).
“The nature of the sport is social distancing anyway,” says SA Consolidated Recreational Angling Association (SACRAA) chair John Pledger. “You don’t stand next to another angler, you stand as far away as you possibly can.”
LISTEN: RADIO INTERVIEW WITH SACRAA PRESIDENT
Not to mention that there are many countries outside of South Africa where angling is still allowed, despite the global pandemic. So, of course, there’s been some official appeals to allow fishing in South Africa.
EFFORTS TO ALLOW RECREATIONAL FISHING DURING LOCKDOWN
Directly after the SA president’s announcement that recreational fishing won’t be allowed at Level 4, groups of angling associations, including SACRAA and the South African Sport Anglers and Casting Confederation (SASACC), supported by the South African Deep Sea Angling Association (SADSA) and a lot of the fishing industry prepared an appeal to SASCOC and the ministry of Sport & Recreation to ask for fishing to be allowed.
Citing that recreational fishing employs around 94 000 people and contributes some R36-billion a year to the SA economy, and of course the natural distancing nature of the sport, they delivered an official proposal with strict rules and processes on 24 April 2020
WATCH: OFFICIAL REQUEST TO REINSTATE RECREATIONAL FISHING
This is an important message from Andries Maree, the President of SASACC.
Posted by Bank Angler Oewerhengelaar on Friday, 24 April 2020
SASACC President Andies Maree announced the intent to deliver a proposal to the government. The proposal is reported to have been quite thorough and fair, proposing a range of strict rules and regulations that include social distancing practices in tackle shops with a skeleton staff, with all hygiene and sanitation requirements and wearing masks, as well as that all angling would be individual, with no groups allowed. In broad strokes, the proposal just asked the government to take a closer look at the nature of the activity of fishing itself.
WATCH: ZOOM INTERVIEW WITH ANDRIES (SOME PARTS IN AFRIKAANS)
Posted by Bank Angler Oewerhengelaar on Monday, 27 April 2020
On 27 April 2020, Andries confirmed that the proposal was delivered on time and after a very thorough process between various stakeholders in the fishing industry. Which is what makes the government’s response come as a bit of a shock…
OFFICIAL RESPONSE: NO, YOU CAN’T GO FISHING IN LOCKDOWN
On 30 April, the angling associations received an official response from a legal advisor of the ministry of sport & recreation:
It simply says in two short lines that recreational fishing is not allowed. This while reports are surfacing that the ministry is considering allowing golf during lockdown, and that those talks are taking place “behind closed doors”.
MORE BACKLASH AFTER COVID-19
Apart from the financial impact on the thousands of South Africans who depend on recreational fishing, competitive angling has ground to a halt. Since we reported on the cancellation of almost all fishing competitions in March and subsequently April, SADSAA announced on 30 April it’s cancelled all its competitions, moving them to 2021.
And most provincial associations and clubs have made similar announcements. But, while cancelling comps is one thing, most SA anglers are finding the blanket an on fishing a little tough to swallow. Especially since recreational fishing is allowed in other parts of the world.
GLOBAL UPDATE: FISHING DURING LOCKDOWN IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES
At the start of May, only 4 countries on this list had any ban on recreational fishing. As of 26 May 2020, all of them have already lifted or have a plan to lift it in the next few weeks:
AUSTRALIA – YES
From 28 April 2020, Australia, which has about the same amount of infections as SA, relaxed its lockdown rules to allow hiking, boating, camping and fishing.
USA – YES (REGIONALLY)
The United States doesn’t have a blanket ban on recreational fishing. And, even though there are state rules which might prohibit you, these are a few and far in-between with lockdown easing and reopening the country already underway.
NEW ZEALAND – YES
Having all but eradicated COVID-19, New Zealand now allows recreational fishing.
INDIA – YES
After some initial confusion about the topic in March, India (about 6 times the infections as SA) made it clear early in April already that you’re allowed to go fishing.
THE UK – YES
The UK lifted its ban on fishing on 13 May 2020.
ITALY – YES
Italy’s easing of lockdown includes being able to go fishing again since May.
SPAIN – SOON
Although it’s not lifted yet, the Spanish government have a clear and solid plan to have people fishing again in early June.
PLUS: QUARANTINED DUBAI ANGLER LANDS FISH FROM HIS BALCONY
On the lighter side, a South African living in Dubai showed in April just how much joy fishing brings – not to mention maintaining social distancing. While under quarantine, he caught a fish from his apartment balcony. WATCH:
WHAT SA ANGLERS SAY ABOUT FISHING IN LOCKDOWN
Selected outtakes from the SA response on social media:
Posted by Flathead Catfish Hunters on Friday, 3 April 2020
HAVE YOUR SAY
WHAT ARE ANGLERS DOING RIGHT NOW?
With no-one able to fish and all comps cancelled, many of SA’s top anglers have created vids where they share some of their tips and tricks for beginners or advanced anglers. Check out the video collection of fishing tips.
Plus: Did you know you can now buy all your boat gear online?
ABOUT COVID-19 IN SA
We’re open during lockdown for emergency boat repairs.
Discover 7 BoatPro reasons to start boating.
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