Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
November 2004

Licensing Guides Benefits Anglers and Alaska

By Kelly Hepler

Alaska is a world class destination for sport fishing. Non-residents and a number of Alaska residents access Alaska’s abundant fisheries by hiring sport fishing guides. In Alaska, the sport fishing guide industry contributes over $600 million a year to our state’s economy. Yet, up until this year, this important industry has not been licensed by the State of Alaska.

Currently, anyone can become a sport fish guide in the State of Alaska. Although many guides already have insurance, know first aid, and have fishing licenses, none of these items are required by the State of Alaska. After meeting any neccessary U.S. Coast Guard requirements, one must simply register (for free) with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

A few months ago, however, ADF&G was successful in working with the guide industry, other state agencies and the state legislature to pass legislation that requires all sport fish guides and sport fish guide businesses to obtain a license and to meet professional standards. By requiring sport fish guides to meet standards, such as knowing first aid and having insurance, this legislation protects consumers, while further professionalizing the sport fish guide industry, thereby ensuring its continued viability.

The legislation also establishes flexible reporting requirements for all fresh-and saltwater guides across Alaska. Because there are no existing reporting requirements for freshwater guides, decisions regarding the regulation of this industry (and its clients) are often made in the absence of detailed information. The information gathered by the new reporting requirements will be used to adopt regulations based on accurate information on guiding activities and to ensure that stocks are managed for sustained yield.

This information will also be useful in demonstrating the sport fish industry’s economic value to the state. Alaska’s sport fish guide industry provides significant economic benefits to Alaskans by creating jobs and bringing tourism dollars into Alaska’s communities. This new licensing and reporting program will enhance the industry and increase the benefits that it provides to Alaskans, tourists, and the state’s economy.

ADF&G employees are working diligently to have the new licensing and reporting requirements in place for January of 2005. In January of 2010, our state legislature will have an opportunity to review the benefits of the program to both the industry and the state, and will have the option to continue or modify the program.

So, whether you are an Alaska resident or a visitor from out of state, I would encourage you to try sport fishing with one of Alaska’s many trained, professional sport fishing guides. While I cannot guarantee that you will catch a record-breaking fish, I can guarantee that you will be accompanied by a trained professional. Best wishes for safe and memorable Alaska sport fishing adventures.

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