By Eoin Burke Kennedy
Night vision scopes, thermal imaging equipment, covert cameras; it’s not the sort of gadgetry normally associated with a fisheries officer.
However, according to Minister of State for Natural Resources Fergus O’Dowd, this type of detection equipment is now being used to protect wild fish stocks from poaching.
Addressing a conference on wildlife crime in Co Meath today, Mr O’Dowd said officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) “were taking the fight to the poachers” in an effort to protect Ireland’s image as a “clean, green, environmentally friendly” country.
He said night time kayak patrols were now being conducted with thermal imaging equipment along some of the country’s largest river systems, “and they have significantly aided in the detection of riverine nets”.
Some of the “best successes” in catching poachers, he said, had come from the use of covert cameras in known poaching hotspots.
He said officers were no longer simply going out “randomly on patrol” but were targeting specific areas with the latest high-tech detection equipment.
The Minister said IFI had also adopted a pilot programme to train sniffer dogs to be able to detect poaching nets. More....