A bill that would create an independent board regulating licensed sportfishing guides is gaining ground in the Alaska Senate. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.
— sportfishing guide pkg 2:59 "The bill was … legislature. I’m Jacob Resneck."
The bill was pre-filed by Senator Lesil (lee-sill) McGuire, an Anchorage Republican. Senators have now moved the bill up into the senate resources committee.
Proponents argue that sportfishing guides should be held to a set of professional standards by those within the guide industry. McGuire’s bill would establish a Sport Fishing Guide Services Board to write regulations and create proficiency exams; five of the board’s nine members would be licensed guides.
Already the bill has the support from industry groups.
That’s Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. He says the current system, in which licenses are overseen by the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Development, is inadequate for such a complex sector like sportfishing.
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Sportfishing guides aren’t unregulated. Since 2004 there have been minimum standards that include things like requiring liability insurance and first aid training. Guides are also required to log their clients’ catch and provide this data to Fish and Game biologists. Previous efforts to pass permanent legislation have failed and the past two legislatures have granted one-year extensions. So if no action is taken during the 90-day session, all of these requirements will expire at the end of the year.
Sportfishing is big business. A report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says that anglers spent $1.4 billion in 2007 alone. That figure may have decreased in the past three years, but Fish and Game’s sport fish division director Charles Swanton says sportfishing’s economic impact is significant.
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As to the merits of the bill itself, Swanton says the agency isn’t ready to weigh in.
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Many professions in the state have their own professional boards. Big game hunting guide were recently added to the list of state boards with the addition of the Big Game Commercial Services Board.
Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature.
I’m Jacob Resneck