This weekend, Canadians in Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia can celebrate 2013′s first Family Fishing Weekend with several days of licence-free angling.

From February 16 to 17 in Nova Scotia, and February 16 to 18 in Ontario and Alberta (where it coincides with the Family Day holiday), these licence-free periods, including summer’s National Fishing Week, are part of a twice-yearly program to encourage families to discover the enjoyment of angling, and spend time on the outdoors.

This cooperative program is supported by federal and provincial governments, as well as numerous outdoor organizations and other businesses, with the larger goal of ensuring sustainable fishing opportunities, while safeguarding fish populations everywhere.

A number of groups in all three provinces are holding festivals, derbies and workshops. A small sampling of these events include:

These events are an opportunity for kids and novices to learn about proper techniques, ethical angling and how to protect fish and their habitat. Additionally, all other fees and regulations apply, including size limits and fish sanctuaries. That means it’s still important to consult local regulations, which vary considerably across the country. For example, Ontario anglers without a licence must abide the reduced catch limits of a Conservation fishing license.