ANGLERS are being given the chance to continue with their hobby, despite the crisis.

Restrictions on walking across farmland mean most rivers are closed to anglers, and are likely to remain out-of-bounds until the season starts in June.

But anglers have been flocking to use urban lakes and ponds.

The Environment Agency is urging anglers not to venture into the countryside during the outbreak, for fear of spreading the disease on their boots, equipment or clothes.

Head of fisheries Dr David Clarke said they should take a commonsense approach and avoid going on to farmland with livestock.

But a spokesman said urban lakes were available, at Silksworth Pond in Sunderland, and Morden Quarry, Leazes Park and Killingworth Lakes in Newcastle.

He said: "They have been getting significant use from anglers."

Donald MacMaster, secretary of the North Yorkshire and South Durham Federation of Anglers, said it had stopped all activity before the season ended on Thursday.

He said: "We have banned fishing altogether until the start of the next season and we're advising our members to keep away from farmland. It is only fair to the farmers and it is prudent if we just stay away."