Angling Trust calls on Anglian Water to review decision to ban fly fishing at Grafham dam

Anglian Water are proposing to ban fishing from the dam at Grafham Water following an extremely rare incident where a visitor was hooked by an angler’s back cast.

The company says there have been other incidents in the last ten years, but these have never been reported at the regular users panels that angler’s representatives hold with Anglian Water managers.

Angling has been a feature at Grafham Water for over 60 years and has become increasingly popular with both local and visiting anglers during the pandemic. Angling plays an important role in supporting people’s wellbeing, providing access to nature, and allowing people to develop an active habit, all key aspects of the government’s priorities as we recover from the pandemic.

The Grafham dam provides access for disabled anglers and those with limited mobility and the ban effectively excludes these vulnerable groups from an activity that greatly benefits their mental and physical wellbeing.

Despite letters from the Angling Trust, the Grafham Water Fly Fishing Association, and the Invicta Fly Fishing Club, and the clubs’ willingness to cooperate in precautions to keep anglers and walkers a safe distance apart, Anglian Water have taken the decision to ban fishing from the dam.

The local fishing clubs and Angling Trust are trying to persuade Anglian Water to reverse a decision that discriminates against disabled and elderly anglers while other leisure activities that can conflict with each other and cause accidents, such as cyclists and walkers sharing pathways, are allowed to continue.

Allan Sefton, Chairman of Invicta Fly Fishing Club, said:

“Grafham Water provides wonderful trout fishing and it is a disaster for Invicta’s disabled and elderly members to be banned from the only place they can fish safely. We are desperate to cooperate with Anglian Water to ensure there are sensible precautions to keep anglers and walkers a few metres apart. This is an example of a powerful company using ‘health and safety’ as an excuse for draconian action that affects hundreds of loyal, disadvantaged customers.”

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said:

“The incident that took place was unfortunate, but angling, even when other recreational users are around, is a safe and healthy activity if sensible precautions are taken. Jumping straight to a ban, if not a sensible precaution, is an overreaction. We are keen to sit down with Anglian Water to discuss how angling can return to the dam at Grafham Water.”

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