A new deal with the province will pour more money into the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.
Starting April 1, the province is turning over all revenue from fishing licence sales to the society.
Under the agreement, the total amount transferred for 2015-16 will be approximately $10 million, an increase of about $3 million annually over what the society currently receives.
“It can’t do anything but good for the fisherman,” said Summerland resident Jon Pew, who is chair of the provincial society, which also operates the Summerland Trout Hatchery.
Including Summerland, the society operates five hatcheries around B.C., using them to stock 50 per cent of the province’s lakes and water bodies. Pew said the new funding will help with that, as well as expanding the society’s operations.
“We were getting a little stretched with inflation and cost of living and everything,” said Pew. “That work will continue and get nothing but better. But we would also like to spend some of that money doing enhancement work in the province.”
The additional funding allows the society to work with provincial biologists to improve angling opportunities in small lakes, large lakes and rivers. This includes angler access improvements, stock assessment to help inform management decisions and resources to enhance capacity for compliance monitoring and enforcement on both stocked and wild water bodies.
“The 12-year track record of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. has been exemplary. Their excellence in service delivery, innovation, partnership building and operational efficiencies will only be enhanced by this increased support,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Pew said they have set up a system to evaluate possible projects to invest in and they’ve hired Dr. Paul Askey, formerly a biologist with the provincial fish and wildlife branch to help put it together.
“He works for the society now, and his job is to coordinate these projects and coordinate the communications with the province and all the local biologists to get these things going,” said Pew. “It’s kind of a bottom-up project that starts with the local biologists and goes through a system of committees.”
Pew said the Freshwater Fisheries Society is a happy place to work.
“We get a lot of ‘atta boys’ from anglers throughout the province,” he said. “We do work that people like to see and there are results, constantly.”
The new arrangement doesn’t affect surcharges on licences for the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. The fund will continue to receive 100 per cent of the licence surcharge dedicated to habitat conservation under the new arrangement.