The proposal was put forward by state Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, in SB 24. McGuire said in a statement that if the state does not provide oversight, the federal government will regulate the sportfishing guide industry in Alaska.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game currently licenses sportfishing guides, and the bill would shift that authority to a board within the Alaska Department of Commerce. The proposal is similar to one approved in 2005 for big game guiding.
The bill was proposed in January but did not receive a hearing before the conclusion of the Alaska Legislature’s session.
The Senate Resources Committee took public comment on the bill for eight hours Monday, hearing testimony from Ketchikan to Kotzebue.
In Kodiak, Charles “Chaco” Pearman grilled the Senate committee on the cost of the measure. According to an estimate provided in February from an early version of the bill, administering the program would cost approximately $440,000.
Pearman asked how much of that cost would be passed to fishing guides. The committee said that would depend on how many people work in the industry.
“Since limited access,” Pearman replied, “a lot of the people who participated are no longer there.”
Despite the uncertainty, Pearman said he supports the measure.
“I am in support of it, though there is a lot of opposition from other people in Kodiak,” he said.
That opposition was not evident Monday, however, as Pearman was the only person signed up to testify in Kodiak at the appointed hour.
In February, Sen. Gary Stevens, who represents Kodiak on the resources committee, wrote in a constituent newsletter, “So far, the majority of correspondence I have received on this bill from constituents has been in opposition.”
The current Alaska Legislature convenes its second regular session Jan. 17.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.