The letter urges the angling community to follow the guidance provided and to keep up to date with the latest advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland.
In her letter dated Friday 3 April, McMahon notes the guidance from governments north and south regarding the circumstances where members of the public may leave their homes at this time.
“One of these is to take exercise, either alone or with other members of their household. The only forms of exercise permitted [in the UK at this time] are walking, running or cycling,” she says.
“Angling, like many other forms of recreation, is not specifically mentioned as a form of exercise, therefore we would urge you not to go fishing at this time – this includes Loughs Agency’s permit waters on the River Finn, River Foyle and at the Greenbraes.
“We thank those anglers who are already adhering to this advice and we will continue to review government guidance as it is issued.
“While we hope these restrictions won’t last long, we must all do what is asked of us by government and work together to fight this pandemic.
“This is about saving lives and supporting our healthcare systems and frontline staff. The agency is encouraged by private fisheries closing during this pandemic and heeding government advice.”
The statement from the Loughs Agency comes after Stormont’s fisheries minister Edwin Poots closed all state-owned angling waters in Northern Ireland, with those owned by NI Water following suit.
Loughs Agency offices remain closed but staff are working remotely where possible and anglers can engage by phone or email.
As Derek Evans writes in his latest angling column for The Irish Times, there are as yet no specific restrictions on angling in the Republic, but permit and licence sales have been paused, and “those intending to fish must adhere to the latest precautionary advice on coronavirus”.