The Great Outdoors by James Murray

Column: Stocked freshwater fishery can be a money maker

The Great Outdoors by James Murray

The mandate of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia is “to conserve and enhance the freshwater fish resources of British Columbia for the benefit of the public, to deliver fish stocking programs, to maintain and enhance the freshwater sport fishery, to provide conservation fish culture services, to support the recovery of endangered fish populations and to promote, market, and develop recreational fishing.”

A major component of the society’s operation is to facilitate fish culture and stocking programs.

Under the FFSBC’s mandate, hatcheries produce some 10 million rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout annually, and stock more than 1,000 lakes throughout the province.

Stocked waters represent half of all freshwater fishing activity.

Under current provincial legislation, all revenues generated from the sale of freshwater angling licenses now go the FFSBC to support freshwater sport fishing and are to be spent only on services such as lake and stream stocking, licensing, permitting, the fishing synopsis and the management of sport fishing.

Read more: Chances to learn fishing basics offered in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Read more: Trout doing ‘quite well’ at Kootenay hatchery after otters, who ate 150 fish, relocated

They also undertake post-stocking scientific evaluations in order to determine where the stocking program is working, conduct research of non-reproductive strain technology and carry out a variety of species enhancement programs for species such as steelhead and anadromous cutthroat trout. An experimental ‘living gene bank’ program, the species-at-risk recovery program and fish health and disease management programs are also being continued under the mandate of the Freshwater Fisheries Society.

The FFSBC also operates six major fish hatcheries located in Duncan, Abbotsford, Summerland, Clearwater, Fort Steele and Vanderhoof. The society also oversees nine egg collection stations situated throughout the province, which raise and release more than six million trout, char and kokanee annually into 800 lakes around the province.

Each year an estimated $500 million goes into local economies from expenditures by anglers and some $32 million in sales tax revenue on those angling related expenditures.

It is clear a properly stocked freshwater fishery in this province can be a money-making proposition.

I just wish they would take me along when they put those stocked fish into the lakes. Maybe they could drop me off for a day or so of fishing and then pick me up when they head back out.
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