Over 33,000 patrols undertaken by Inland Fisheries Ireland officers in 2020, as illegal fishing activity rose during Covid-19 last year

Patrol drones and surveillance equipment become increasingly important to detect illegal fishing in hard-to-reach areas

Inland Fisheries Ireland, the state agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, recorded an increase in illegal fishing activity last year.

As a result, the agency initiated 119 prosecutions for fisheries-related offences in 2020, compared with 67 prosecutions in 2019. It also seized 1,287 illegal fishing items last year, up from 788 items the year before. Officers issued 240 fixed charge penalty notices last year, compared with 158 in 2019 and gave 756 cautions, up from 425 cautions in 2019.

The way in which Inland Fisheries Ireland patrols the country’s rivers and lakes also changed during Covid-19, with unmanned drone patrols becoming increasingly important, especially for difficult-to-reach terrains.

In total, officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland undertook 33,051 patrols of different types last year, a substantial increase on the previous year (28,276) despite Covid-19 related work challenges faced by Officers. The agency also credits higher detection rates with the use of advanced surveillance equipment, such as night vision scopes, infra-red sensing scopes and enhanced optical surveillance scopes.

The most common methods for patrolling riverbanks, rivers, lakes and coastlines in 2020 were:

  1. Vehicle and foot patrols (30,882 patrols)
  2. Bicycle patrols (1,227 patrols)
  3. Boat patrols (573 patrols)
  4. Drone patrols (136 patrols)
  5. Kayak patrols (129 patrols)
  6. Personal watercraft patrols (56 patrols)
  7. Quad patrols (46 patrols)

Meanwhile, members of the public are being encouraged to report any suspicions of illegal fishing activity directly to Inland Fisheries Ireland by telephoning its 24-hour confidential hotline on 1890 34 74 24.

Fisheries Protection Review & Key Statistics 2020 (Source: Inland Fisheries Ireland)

Total number of patrols undertaken by Inland Fisheries Ireland: 33, 051 (2020) / 28, 276 (2019)

Patrol Methods in 2020 – v- 2019

Boat Patrols: 573 (2020) / 917 (2019)

Kayak Patrols: 129 (2020) / 154 (2019)

Personal Watercraft Patrols: 56 (2020) / 23 (2019)

Quad Patrols: 46 (2020) / 28 (2019)

Bicycle Patrols: 1, 227 (2020) / 1, 344 (2019)

Vehicle and Foot Patrols: 30, 882 (2020) / 25, 748 (2019)

Drone Patrols: 136 (2020) / 56 (2019)

Patrols with Irish Air Corps: 2 (2020) / 4 (2019)

 

Prosecutions/ Illegal items seized/ fixed charge penalty notices/cautions:

Prosecutions initiated for breaches of fisheries legislation: 119 (2020)/ 67 (2019)

Illegal items seized: 1, 287 (2020) / 788 (2019)

Fixed charge penalty notices issued: 240 (2020) / 158 (2019)

Cautions issued: 756 (2020) / 425 (2019)