Thomson: Licence revenue to benefit anglers

The total amount to be transferred to the society for 2015-16 will be approximately $10 million.

We all remember our first time fishing. Maybe it was with grandpa on a warm, sunny day, teaching you how to hold the rod, cast your line, and reel in that thrilling first catch. Or maybe it’s the memory of your dad handing down that worn tackle box that you’ll pass on to your child one day. Those moments stay with us forever, and that’s why it’s so important we make more of them.

We can do that by improving angling opportunities in small lakes, large lakes and rivers across our great province. That’s why I’m so proud of our government’s new agreement with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., which will see 100 per cent of fishing licence revenue directly benefit anglers.

The total amount to be transferred to the society for 2015-16 will be approximately $10 million, which is about $3 million more annually. Previously, the society was primarily focused on the stocking of smaller lakes, but this additional funding is not intended to increase the amount of lake stocking that is done. Instead, it is designed to enhance angler opportunity in a variety of ways.

This may include infrastructure to assist with wheelchair access, the elderly and young anglers. It will help with stock assessment—that is, evaluating a fishery to see if it can still remain open or needs to be closed or curtailed for conservation reasons. These additional resources will also enhance the capacity for compliance monitoring and enforcement for stocked and wild waterbodies. Examples could be funding for additional Conservation Officers or lake monitors, who can observe and report infractions.

Indeed, there is no better group to carry out these activities than the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., which the Province created in 2003 as it embarked on an ambitious and innovated fisheries management structure. The Society was structured to be a non-profit delivery partner, with the goal of conserving and enhancing freshwater fishing opportunities in the province.

The initial agreement was for 30 years, and just over a third of the way in, I am confident in declaring that decision an overwhelming success. Today, the Society is recognized as one of the most progressive and accomplished fisheries management organizations in North America, generating economic benefits for the province and providing world-class angling opportunities.

This announcement, which will truly make fishing better in B.C., is a great legacy for the outgoing president of the society. As he gets set to retire after more than ten years of leading this great organization, having been there since the beginning– I’d like to thank Don Peterson for his fine work in promoting fishing in B.C. and ensuring it’s an activity that new generations will get to experience and enjoy.