Businessman and former trout fisherman Bob Jones has strongly criticised government’s recreational fishing and other outdoor sports bans under lockdown rules.
Writing on his website “No Punches Pulled” he lambasted the government for “lunatic rules”.
“Fishing is banned. Why? We’re not told. So a bloke surfcasting alone on a beach apart from the mental relief of escape and the possibility of fresh food, constituted a massive health threat to the community? It (fishing) should have been encouraged.”
But Fish and Game NZ have supported the government ban on fishing.
Government said a person cannot fish if doing so required a person to leave the residence.
“The Section 70(1) Health Act Order at cl2(e)(iii) states a person may not leave their residence for the purpose of exercise if it involves hunting or water based activities. The Prime Minister has announced that the intention of an Alert Level 4 lockdown is for people to stay at home.”
As a guideline, when asked about fishing and hunting, the Prime Minister said to stay home.
PM Adern also said at all times “you should act as if you have COVID 19” so that you are at no risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said in relation to whether you can go hunting and fishing: “No. Just stay at home. I mean there’s a very clear message across the world, internationally – stay at home. The only reason that we’re allowing people to move from home is for essential services.”
But Bob Jones disagreed and spoke on golf and questioned the initial ban on golf course “groundsmen sitting alone on a tractor in a massive land expanse.”
He said it was ludicrous that groundsmen were deemed a health threat to everyone. Golf course were already struggling to survive.
“Playing golf alone or in pairs (presumably within one’s bubble) should have been encouraged. Simply close the pro-shop, cafe and bar at the golf course. The absurdity re groundsmen has been lifted but playing is still prohibited.”
Bob Jones said the “lunatic rules” were “mindlessly copied from Britain where 70 million people live in a land the size of New Zealand (5 million)which “raised hugely different contagion issues.”
NZ First Tweet
While government has banned fishing and hunting a reported tweet by the NZ First party encouraged people to go hunting during the shutdown.
“Having to self-isolate doesn’t necessarily mean being locked indoors. You may go for a walk or exercise or hunt the roar, but keep a 2 metre distance from people at all times,” it read.
A hunter-angler who did not wish to be named, said restrictions on hunting and fishing during lockdown could have been handled much better.
“I’m not opposed to restricting it to a common-sense social distancing activity under lockdown. But government could have banned overnight hunting trips but allowed day trips, banned boat trips and restricted fishing to land-based or trout fishing on rivers. There could have been a clear understanding that no search and rescue would be available if a mishap occurred,” he said. “In other words total responsibility was on the hunter or angler to be extra careful.”
“The trouble is probably it was some bureaucrat with no inkling of fishing or hunting who formulated the rules. I might have expected Fish and Game NZ and hunting organisations to have caused the need for a more practical approach,” he added.
More Fly Fishers
However in the USA, Big Sky News Town Crier reported increased numbers of fly fishers on rivers during the virus lockdown.
“The reasons, amid calls COVID-19-related social distancing, are plain to see—connecting with Nature offers an ease of isolation and a sense of solace during these uncertain times. “There’s no better way to social distance yourself than fly fishing,” said Jared Arnold, a local guide from Bozeman, Montana.
“Listening to the stream, possibly catching a fish, the wildlife that Montana offers, it’s a great way to break up the monotony of being at home.”
Jarod Arnold and others are noticing not only an uptick in people hoping to land a trout or two, but also in other types of recreationalists seeking fresh air and sunshine.
“Normally this time of year you might see two or three other guys out,” Jarod Arnold added. “But it’s pretty busy – a lot of hikers, people walking their dogs, other fishermen. People are definitely getting out and about.”
© Recreational fishing embrace solitude and social distancing