Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
Editorial Why Monitor Sport Fishing Guides
Sport Fish Charter/Guide Logbooks
In 2004, House Bill 452 established statewide licensing requirements for sportfishing guide business owners and sport-fishing guides. It also established statewide reporting requirements for freshwater operators that previously applied only to saltwater operators. This law became effective on January 1, 2005 as Alaska Statute 16.40 Article 5.
Before this there were no reporting requirements for freshwater harvest, and decisions by the Board of Fisheries on regulation of this industry were often made in the absence of detailed information. According to Kelly Hepler, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), Director of Sport Fish at the time, “With better information on where, when, and to what extent sport fish guides operate, ADF&G will be able to effectively and efficiently manage Alaska’s resources for sustained yield and ensure that the industry is regulated fairly. This information will be used to adopt regulations based on accurate information on guiding activities.”
Logbook reporting now provides the Division of Sport Fish with accurate data on guiding activities for all waters. Logbook data are used in developing regulations for sport fisheries and to help ensure stocks are managed for sustained yield. This information is also useful in demonstrating the sport fish industry’s economic value to the state.
Current logbook reports collect information on vessels providing sport fishing guide services, the amount of fishing effort per angler, catch and harvest by individual clients by species, client residency, name, and sport fish license, and the locations fished during the guided sport fishing trip. Logbooks are assigned to a unique charter/guide business operation but the license numbers of those guides who actually lead individual guided trips are also recorded on each trip sheet.
All guided fishing activity must be recorded in a logbook on a trip-by-trip basis and returned to ADF&G on a weekly basis. Weekly reporting enables timely feedback to charter operators regarding possible reporting errors and omissions, or incomplete /missing data. ADF&G staff members who review the weekly reports are instrumental in providing outreach and encouraging compliance, while availing themselves for questions and suggestions.
In addition to collecting information on the guided activity in Alaska, the logbooks are the means for registering all vessels that provide sport fishing guide services. All charter/guide vessels must have current registrations from either the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or documentation numbers from the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel registration or documentation numbers are recorded within the logbook and become part of the permanent database. Vessel information allows ADF&G to determine how many vessels are used in the charter guide industry in both saltwater and freshwater fisheries.
All logbook reports are considered confidential. ADF&G will release logbook reporting information to the owner of the business upon request or to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers (AWT) for enforcement purposes.
Saltwater logbook information has been collected statewide since 1998. 2008 marks the fourth year in which freshwater logbook information has been collected. Every year, the logbook designs are reevaluated as management needs change. As the charter sector of Alaska’s fishing industry continues to grow, there is a greater need for quality and timely information from that industry. Verification of logbook data is continuously evaluated and reviewed by conducting comparison studies with on-site creel surveys and end of season surveys to randomly selected charter/guide clients.
More recently, logbook data has become an important tool for management decisions being considered on halibut issues regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As NOAA discusses future management actions on charter halibut, participation in the fishery will be based on historical logbook submissions.
Fishery Biologist Dora Sigurdsson works with the Logbook Program at the Sport Fish Division. She’s based in Anchorage, Alaska.
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