Irish officials’ drone uncovers much illegal fishing

Angling has been a beloved pastime and source of sustenance in Ireland going back centuries. These days the activity is getting a high-tech update as Irish officials deploy drones to spot and apprehend people fishing illegally.

While lovers of the hook and rod have always been plentiful in the country, the ranks of those willing to break seasonal rules, or drop a line in a closed river have been proliferating of late. Indeed, repeated lockdowns and other activity disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an explosion in both the number of people taking to streams, and those doing so illicitly. In response, Irish officials are leading a major push to crack down on illegal forms of fishing ­– and flying drones to widen their policing net. The result of that eye-in-the-sky effort has been remarkable.

Inland Fisheries Ireland says it initiated 119 court cases for fishing offenses last year, compared with 67 in 2019. Its agents seized 1,287 illegal…