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Environment Agency says ‘let’s get 1M to fish’ as thousands reap its wellbeing benefits

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A woman and young boy sat fishing on a dock, facing away from the camera.

Today, the Environment Agency’s campaign to encourage more people to take up fishing and raise awareness of the wellbeing benefits that the sport has to offer has been featured in the Daily Star and Daily Mirror.

Fishing was one of the first activities to be reintroduced once lockdown restrictions started to ease due to the ability in which you can apply social distancing measures without difficulty. The Environment Agency is now encouraging more people to take up the sport to boost wellbeing and can provide a healthy activity for families to try as parents seek to find ways to keep children occupied over the summer holidays.

A number of partners and charities have backed the Environment Agency’s call to fish, including the Mental Health Foundation which is encouraging the pursuit of outdoor activities like fishing to help people deal with the impact of the pandemic since lockdown restrictions eased.

Heidi Stone, Fisheries Manager at the Environment Agency said:

Fishing licence sales have risen to an exceptional high against the last few years and we’re seeing a true revival for the sport as people recognise all it has to offer. 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.

Fishing is a sport that can be done by a person of any age or ability and it provides a great opportunity for families to try something new during the school holidays.

The Environment Agency is calling on all to give the sport a go and see the benefits for themselves. To find out more about how to get a licence, visit

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  1. Comment by Camilla posted on

    Surely there are better things people can do? Instead of torturing our already embattled native wildlife. Even putting the poor fish aside, fishing and discarded tackle are a disaster for wildlife, especially marine birds. Walk, run, cycle, wildlife watch, volunteer with conservation projects, but don’t kill wildlife for decency’s sake!

  2. Comment by Martin Fox posted on

    Of all the wonderful, healthy, active, outdoor activities that could be enjoyed, you promote sitting still while harming and killing other species as the priority. Seriously?


  3. Comment by Gill Mitchell posted on

    Oh for goodness sake, fishing? This is encouraging families to injure and kill defenceless creatures because even if the fish are put back in the water, they’ve had the pain and stress of having a hook stuck in their throats. What next? Join the local hunt because there’s nothing that brings families together more than watching a poor fox being ripped apart by a pack of hounds? Please don’t mention the Hunting Act because we all know that hunting foxes is still happening. Get real DEFRA, country walks, orienteering or biking (to name but a few) would be far better for getting families to bond and none of our precious wildlife is harmed in the process.

  4. Comment by Lisa Cherry posted on

    This is just another way of encouraging hunting and cruelty to animals. All living creatures suffer when they die, including fish. Economically it’s also a way of making people to forage for their food in unclean waterways. Advice people to spend time enjoying nature for their wellbeing, not destroying it. How is hunting and killing good for you!

  5. Comment by Anna Rapotu posted on

    Leave the fish alone, fishing isn't a sport. You should be promoting people to care for their local wildlife habitats by protecting and supporting the delicate ecosystems.

  6. Comment by Thomas Kirby posted on

    We don't get better by inflicting cruelty on other species. This is an irresponsible recommendation. The so-called "Environment Agency" is clearly not interested in protecting the environment or the well being of UK citizens.

  7. Comment by Zoe posted on

    It is a shame that a cruel activity which harms animals is being promoted to support human wellbeing when there are many low cost and free activities which provide the same or greater benefits such as walking, cycling or simply sitting by water and observing.

  8. Comment by Trevor Hiscox posted on

    I do not agree it is good, ethical, nor without cruelty to fish to encourage more people take up such a pastime.

    Nothing at all wrong with sitting alongside any river, just do not cause harm to fish.

  9. Comment by Carol Maddalena posted on

    Promote reconnecting with nature to improve wellbeing. However, why promote the hunting and murder of other species?

  10. Comment by charlotte moncrieff posted on

    Leave the fish alone . Would you like a hook through your mouth when you ate a piece of cake . Please see the latest research on fish . They are sentient beings .

  11. Comment by Jake Wilkinson posted on

    Causing suffering and pain to fish is not good for our wellbeing.

  12. Comment by Carol Gordon posted on

    Stop it!
    Fishing is cruel and inhumane as well as hunting foxes, badgers, just STOP ?

  13. Comment by Debra posted on

    Fishing is just an act of HUNTING. An animal is pulled out of it's natural environment. Then you call this a benefit to our wellbeing. What about the wellbeing of the animal ??? This is a terrible advice & there are many activities that can make us feel better. Enjoy nature. Look, enjoy but don't destroy or harm it.

  14. Comment by Trevor Hiscox posted on

    Absolutely ridiculous, no one should be fishing, let alone enticing more to become inactive with subsequent illnesses.

    Fish feel pain just like we do.

  15. Comment by Ellen Cheyne posted on

    No, fishing is cruel and unethical. By all means, sit on a riverbank or canal side and watch the fish, but please, do not cause them harm and make them suffer!

  16. Comment by Marcus Emmerson posted on

    There are better ways to enjoy the benefits of nature and spend time with the family especially for young children such as walks, cycling, and bird watching.
    Why encourage more people to go and kill more animals...
    It’s the time spend outdoors in nature bonding with friends and family exploring new places and learning new things that promote wellbeing. NOT dragging sentient beings out of their habitats by their mouths leaving them to suffocate or bludgeoning them to death.
    It is definitely not positive for the environment to encourage more fishing.
    This just gives the wrong message moving forward

  17. Comment by Gary Morrisroe posted on

    Fishing is violence dressed up as a benign relaxing pursuit. It is not relaxing for the sentient and sensitive creatures you are disfiguring and asphyxiating. Please promote something that dies not involve violence such as cycling.

  18. Comment by Lynne Northwood-Smith posted on

    You should not be encouraging people to participate in this cruel sport. There are countless other activities that could do that are more beneficial to
    Their health. Better than sitting around and harming innocent animals. You should be encouraging them to get some exercise.

  19. Comment by Pauline Salemi posted on

    Encouraging people to kill for sport? How depraved can you get?

  20. Comment by Jodie posted on

    What a terrible thing to be encouraging people to do. Fish feel pain and teaching children to harass and torture animals is awful.

  21. Comment by Peter Hunt posted on

    Yes fishing is becoming more popular. For the first time in decades our fishing club licences sold have reached the maximum permitted within our constitution.
    What is needed now from government is some properly effective protection for our rivers from pollution and water abstraction, and in some places, over use other groups of people, or places suitable to fish will inevitably reduce further. Already all aquatic species are in decline from the bottom of the food chain for fish animals and birds faster than any other environment. And the governments agencies seem to be ineffective in slowing or stopping pollution.
    I notice that Defra’s 25 year plan for a greener environment seems to neglect our watercourses in favour of fluffy little animals and birds that are more appealing to the general public.