A 3.5 per cent fare hike on most BC Ferries routes that was announced earlier this month came into effect on Friday, and the move is not sitting well with many residents and business along the coast.

A series of rallies are planned for Saturday, from Langdale to Skidegate, calling on Premier Christy Clark to stop the service cuts and reverse the rate hikes.

Jef Keighley, coordinator for The B.C. Ferry Coalition, based in Halfmoon Bay, says enough is enough.

“This is driving a wedge between families on both sides of the pond,” says Keighley. “My own children can't afford to come up as often as they want, and I can't afford to go down and visit as much as we want to.”

BC Ferries says the fuel surcharge is necessary to cover the rising cost of diesel fuel. It will apply to all routes with the exception of the Port Hardy-Prince Rupert route and the Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii route.

“We've delayed this as long as we can because we've been looking at it for a little while,” says BC Ferries spokesperson Darin Guenette. “But ultimately the price differential between what we expected in marine diesel and what it is was too great.”

Bruce Carter, CEO of Victoria's Chamber of Commerce, says businesses up and down the coast are angry about today's increase — and another four per cent increase coming in April.            

The NDP's ferry critic Clare Trevena says she wants more from the ferry corporation than a shrug.

"The minister as the person responsible for BC Ferries has the ability to say, 'We are not going to allow any further increases. We are going to find the money elsewhere. It is not going to come from the people who use this highway system.'"

All pricing on BC Ferries is regulated by the independent B.C. Ferries Commission. The previous fuel surcharge was removed from all BC Ferries route in November 2012.