Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire is introducing a bill that would establish a sport fishing guide services board to oversee the sport fishing industry.
Senate Bill 24 would create a board tasked with issuing sport fishing licenses and disciplining guides who break the law.
The bill also would require potential guides to pass a qualifying exam, a certification exam, become certified in first aid and hold a Coast Guard license, among other requirements.
The current licensing requirements, which are not as strict as the guidelines proposed in Senate Bill 24, will expire at the end of this year.
"We feel it's really important, because guides know their business better than we do." McGuire said.
The nine-member board would be appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Five of those positions would be licensed fishing guides, two seats would be held by members of the public, and the remaining two spots would be a sport fishing transporter and a member of the Board of Fisheries.
Dave Goggia, president of the Kenai River Professional Guide Association, says his organization will support the bill.
"For one, it would be a guide services board of our peers, so it would be people that know our industry, people that work in our industry, and therefore it can be just and fair in dealing with all the different regulations that come our way," Goggia said.
Not everyone agrees that the bill is a good idea. Melvin Grove, president of The Prince William Sound Charter Boat Association says the current licensing requirements are sufficient and work just fine.
"Alaskans need to oppose this bill vigorously if they want to maintain any kind of affordable access to their public resource. The free market is the best way to keep cost down and maintain quality services and has been working for decades. There is absolutely no need to change it now with this legislation," Grove said in an e-mail.
Do you think Senate Bill 24 should become law? Let us know at SpeakUpAlaska.com.
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