03/09/2015 03:21 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

B.C. angling society hooks province's fish licence revenues

VICTORIA - The non-profit society that promotes sport fishing in British Columbia will receive 100 per cent of the revenues generated from fishing licences, the provincial government announced Monday.

The announcement means the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. will receive about $10 million starting next month, an increase of about $3 million from what it currently receives. The society has been receiving 70 per cent of fishing licence revenues for the past 11 years.

The society stocks about 800 B.C. lakes, rivers and streams with more than eight million trout, char and kokanee produced from five provincial fish hatcheries operated by the society.

Society president Don Peterson, a former B.C. government fish and wildlife director, said the agreement will allow the society to increase its investment in recreational fishing.

"It's unprecedented in the history of fisheries management in B.C.," he said at a news conference at the legislature.

"We're so fortunate to live in a province with such a rich freshwater fisheries resource. We've got 20,000 lakes, 750,000 kilometres of streams and rivers and each year 250,000 British Columbians and visitors to B.C. enjoy that resource. It's what defines us as British Columbians."

Peterson said anglers spend about $550 million a year on fishing and the sport indirectly generates $1 billion a year, when travel and tackle costs are included.

"B.C. has a world-class fisheries resource and with careful management and wise investment it will continue to grow and generate economic and social benefits on a sustainable basis," he said.

Steve Thomson, the minister for forests, lands and natural resource operations, said the government and the society signed a 30-year contract in 2003 to enhance and conserve freshwater fishing opportunities.

The province also committed to providing the society with 100 per cent fishing licence revenue at the time.