#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) spent 188,404 staff hours and carried out 31,180 patrols in 2016 to protect Ireland’s fisheries resource, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday 25 January) at the launch of the IFI Protection Review.
The review highlights the results of recent protection work of the nation’s fisheries resource, which contributes €836 million annually to the Irish economy.
IFI’s programme saw fisheries officers patrol the entire resource – which includes 74,000km of rivers and streams, 128,000 hectares of lakes and 5,500km of coastline – in their attempts to apprehend those responsible for illegal fishing or angling and environmental offences.
Some key findings from the Fisheries Protection 2016 Review include:
- 103 prosecution cases initiated for breaches of fisheries and environmental legislation, regarded as one of the most important tools in the prevention of illegal fishing activities in the long term.
- 1,487 items of illegal fishing equipment seized, including 301 illegal fishing nets which measured 14,782 metres in total – about the same distance from Leinster House to Dublin Airport.
- 22,066 environmental inspections across a variety of sites including farms, industrial premises, wastewater plants, forestry sites and wind farms as well general inspections for pollutants in the natural habitat. Inspections were carried out by environmental officers with a view to mitigating against potential environmental incidents which could have a detrimental impact on fish populations and fish habitats.
- 36,979 inspections of recreational anglers carried out nationwide to ensure anglers were compliant with the fisheries acts, which aim to protect fish populations.
Minister of State for Inland Fisheries Sean Kyne, who opened IFI’s Oireachtas Briefing Day event yesterday, said: “Close to 200,000 man hours speaks for itself but I want to commend Inland Fisheries Ireland for the immense and dedicated efforts they have put into protecting our invaluable inland fisheries resource.
“The vast array of river, lake and coastal based habitats present huge logistical challenges for our frontline protection staff and for Inland Fisheries Ireland management. These challenges are being met by augmenting traditional patrol and protection methods with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies and new and innovative patrol methods in the ever changing environment in which services are delivered.”
IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne added: “The role of Inland Fisheries Ireland is to act as steward of the inland fisheries resource and that role is crucial as we endeavour to protect and conserve Ireland’s aquatic habitat and the wild, indigenous fish populations who live within it.
“Our fisheries and environmental officers worked relentlessly in 2016 to ensure the continued availability of this resource to communities nationwide for recreational and business opportunities.
“The resource contributes €836 million to the Irish economy every year and in particular, it supports rural and peripheral communities through tourism opportunities which may not be there otherwise. Our National Strategy for Angling Development outlines how we can grow the economic contribution by an additional €96 million per year and our protection programme goes hand in hand in helping us realise those ambitions.”
The fisheries protection programme comprised planned day and night patrols, covert patrols and intelligence-led surveillance operations, and specifically targeted the fish species most at risk during particular seasons.
The principle methods used for patrols were boats (1,151 patrols), kayaks (188 patrols) and personal water craft (37 patrols) while land-based patrols were carried out using quad bikes (84 patrols), bicycles (363 patrols) and by vehicles and foot (29,357 patrols).
In addition to the use of traditional methods, fisheries officers used advanced surveillance equipment including night vision scopes, thermal imaging scopes and enhanced optical surveillance scopes to help them in their work.
IFI’s National Strategy for Angling Development is the first national framework for the development of Ireland’s angling resource. The strategy will deliver a wide-ranging set of investments, innovations and promotions to ensure that fish stocks and angling infrastructure are protected and enhanced and will see an investment of €25 million over the next five years to grow the socio-economic contribution of angling in Ireland.
Last year, over €1 million was invested by IFI in angling development projects alone, which included 50 angling access projects as part of the Capital Grants Fund plus ongoing investment in more than 4,000 angling structures.