Rainbow trout, pictured, was one of several species stocked into B.C. lakes in 2020. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. successfully completed its program last year, releasing 5.63 fish into 662 lakes across the province. (Black Press Media file photo)

Rainbow trout, pictured, was one of several species stocked into B.C. lakes in 2020. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. successfully completed its program last year, releasing 5.63 fish into 662 lakes across the province. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C.’s freshwater stocking program complete despite pandemic challenges

Program’s success comes amid huge spike in new freshwater fishing licences

Despite an array of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency responsible for stocking B.C.’s lakes with freshwater fish successfully completed its mission for 2020, ensuring a smooth transition for the recreational fishery going into the new year.

The importance of the achievement by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) is heightened this year with a 20 per cent spike in new licence holders expecting the most from this outdoor pursuit.

“It was a huge feat, because this past year was unique given the pandemic,” Andrew Wilson, president of FFSBC said. “We had to develop new protocols, new procedures to ensure we were compliant with the the provincial health officer and WorkSafe BC, and that meant a bit of a rethink on how we were able to culture the fish and deliver them. But at the end of the day we were able to do that. We never got to the place where we thought it wasn’t going to happen.”

READ MORE: ‘Fishing Highway’ reels in new anglers

FFSBC is solely responsible for stocking B.C.’s freshwater lakes on behalf of the provincial government.

Throughout 2020 the society stocked 5.63 million rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout and kokanee into 662 lakes across the province.

More than 311,000 steelhead smolts were also raised and released into six rivers in the Lower Mainland, and four rivers on Vancouver Island. The society’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery also released 15,306 anadromous coastal cutthroat trout into the Oyster and Quinsam rivers on Vancouver Island.

Wilson said once new procedures were in place, operations moved smoothly. He credits the participation of BC Parks, BC Rec Sites and Trails, and BC Hydro to develop workable plans for accessing the bodies of water.

Without the completion of the program, Wilson said anglers would have experienced immediate impacts.

READ MORE: Data gaps prevent assessment of most Canadian watersheds: WWF report

“At the beginning of the year there were so many unknowns … particularly with the government having to walk that fine line of trying to look after British Columbians while also encouraging them to get outside to stay healthy.”

The annual provincial recreational stocking program is funded through the sale of B.C. freshwater fishing licences. In the early stages of the pandemic the society was concerned about deep financial losses in 2020, as many in the tourism sector experienced, but the government’s encouragement for residents get outdoors resulted in a 20 per cent uptake in new freshwater fishing licences sales to B.C. residents. The 16-20-year old category saw the largest gains of 64 per cent.

“That 20 per cent increase in resident anglers pretty much offset the 94 per cent decrease in international anglers,” Wilson said. “It is big news. People are getting out and engaging with their backyard, getting out on the water in a really healthy pursuit.”



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

(File photo)
COLUMN: How to help your young reluctant reader

Library has resources to help children

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

C.E. “Ned” Bentley owned a garage on Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive in Summerland. Bentley later went on to serve on Summerland’s council and was recognized with the Good Citizen Award in 1939. (Summerland Museum photo)
Former Summerland reeve once ran garage

C.E. “Ned” Bentley was a prominent figure in Summerland’s past.

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Phase four of the Kicking Horse Canyon project would twin the winding stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Golden. ~ Photo by B.C. Ministry of Transportation
Additional closures announced to Trans-Canada east of Golden

Additional closures will be needed in May as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

Dawn Low first moved “upstairs” to the administrative department of the City of Revelstoke in 2009. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
120 years later, first female CAO appointed in Revelstoke

International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria,… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
COSAR called to rescue missing skier near Big White

Fortunately, the skier found his way out of the area

Granfondo is going ahead in Penticton this September. (Western file photo)
Granfondo is a go in Penticton

Axel Merckx pushed the event to September in hopes of a ‘full Fondo experience’

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

YouTube.
LETTER: Stop torture of horses

Summerland woman calls for the end of shipping of live horses to Japan

Most Read