Coast Guard Licensing Rule Could Affect Bristol Bay Guides

Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp
Photo courtesy of Eli Huffman/Jakes Nushagak Camp

Our sales manager, Brian Lull, brought this item to my attention. Lull spends time every summer in Bristol Bay helping out the guides at Jake’s Nushagak Salmon Camp, so the following report is near and dear to his heart:

Here’s Dillingham radio station KDLG (audio is available on the website):

 USCG moving guides to full OUVP (“six pack”) licenses on Western Alaska rivers. Lodge owners say change is not feasible for their industry now.

The U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of implementing new regulations that sport fishing lodges in Bristol Bay say will harm their business this year. …

What the Coast Guard is proposing are modifications to the licenses used by guides, and the requirements to get those licenses. In the past, Hodson’s guides could operate on a “limited” OUVP, or Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel. The change, however, will now restrict a person with that license to guiding on only three waterways, and the operator must have 90 days experience on each of those waterways.

“Which in our business is impossible. You take Kulik Lake, I mean how do you get a boat up there, and what are you going to camp for 90 days just to get a license to operate that river?”

Nor, he says, is operating on only three waterways feasible for a sportfishing guide in Bristol Bay.

“For me, because we fly out and fish so many different waterways, it makes the guide unemployable. Because I can’t use them anywhere except a very limited area.”

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The Bristol Bay folks whose livelihood is the fishing industry are already fighting battles up there. Hang in there, everyone!

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