Inland Fisheries Ireland confiscated 14.5km of illegal fishing nets and initiated more than 100 prosecutions last year.
The organisation’s annual report says 22,000 environmental inspections were carried out last year, 2,500 more than in 2015. Items seized by its officers ranged from nets and rods to dinghies and spears.
The report showed there were 31 reported incidents of fish kills last year. Of the 103 prosecutions initiated last year for fisheries and environmental offences, 66 were brought to a conclusion.
Speaking at the publication of the report, the organisation’s chief executive Dr Ciarán Byrne described illegal fishing as an “environmental crime of the highest order” which could potentially do serious damage to the State’s €836 million fishing industry.
“Sometimes people think this is a victimless crime: ‘You know what, it’s only a fish, who cares’, a touch of the old ‘one for the pot’. It’s not, this is environmental crime of the highest order.”