Anglers are worth about three-quarters of a billion to the economy, a new study has revealed.
A study into the value of people fishing on loughs, rivers and the coast has found that 406,000 people went fishing in Ireland last year and spent about 555 million euro.
When the wider spending and impact of recreational angling is added in, the sector is estimated to be worth 755 million euro to the overall economy.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), which commissioned the study, said the figures showed that angling and recreational fishing supported about 10,000 jobs, mostly in rural areas.
Fergus O’ Dowd, junior minister responsible for natural resources, said the value of angling had been greatly under-estimated.
He said: “The results contained in this report are significant. Angling, as a recreational pursuit, is a major contributor to the fabric of Irish life in all parts of the country, particularly in rural and peripheral areas.
“It is equally clear to me that maintaining a strong focus on the protection and conservation of this vital resource into the future is absolutely key if we are to properly sustain and grow these benefits to anglers, angling businesses and the Irish economy.”
It said that on average the spend fell to 196 euro for an Irish angler travelling for a day or two to fish, and rose to 1,526 euro for someone coming from Britain and 2,114 euro for someone from mainland Europe.
Dr Ciaran Byrne, IFI chief executive, said: “Clearly fish stocks and fish habitat must be conserved, protected and developed. Angling businesses must be given every opportunity to win business and secure and grow the jobs within the sector.”