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Should Guides Be Licensed - Meeting


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There is to be an angling guide licensing mtg to discover whether there is interest enough to warrant licensing the angling guides in the province.


"Ladies and Gents, On behalf of Keith Rae, I am sending you the attached draft agenda and a compilation of comments for your information and review before the meeting on Saturday, October 24, 2009 at Beacon Heights Community Hall, Edmonton. If you have any questions or concerns or wish to advise of your attendance, please contact Keith directly."




It would also be interesting to read posts from:


- guides who won't be attending, either in support or not in support of licensing.


- fishermen who are/not in support of licensing, and their reasons.


- people who have any ideas as to how the licensing program will be funded and functions performed. With a likely true cost of several hundred thousand dollars annually and what will likely result in only a few dozen companies (with ind guides rolling under larger rather than pay their own fees), the math doesn't add up. If anyone has any ideas, please post (and no, I'm not ignorant as to the likely reactions to such a leading question but someone has to be realistic and ask the dummy questions). Do anglers want $300K +/- taken annually from fisheries budgets to have a licensed guide program? Replies?


Cheers & TIA




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I know that this topic was already discussed at the Fisheries Round Table, it stemmed from BC adding their $20 fee for selected waters and limiting the number of guide days on the water.

This is a contraversial topic with no real middle ground. I know my personal opinion keeps going back and forth.

My question is What is the REAL reason for licencing guides? Retribution isn't one of them.

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If revenue is generated from the sale of fishing licences, why would guide licences make a deficit?


As far as reasons, how about to keep them honest? A fly-by-night outfit can keep ripping people off, flying under the radar for quite a while. Most clients choose a guide by throwing a dart, so to speak.



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licensed for any organization is to ensure that those individuals have the proper qualifications and insurances to look after the public.


Now do we need the Government to ensure this is happening or an organizatin of guides?


Then it is up to the individual to ensure the guide has all the qualifications.


Now we are buyer beware,


or do we need the Govenment to look after the individual who will not look after himself.



In my opinion, if an individual has a busness in a town he he pays his fees to that town, that is enough

let the buyer ensure he is geting what he is paying for.


Why create further costs, that make is so the average Joe cannot aford to do it.

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I have libertarian persuasions and feel that the less the government does and regulates, the better off we are. While I can understand the temptation to try to "protect" people from fly by nighters, it's not so certain government regulations will do that.


A free market is the best way way to operate. Having worked for the "government" for quite a number of years, some years ago, I know that government regulation will have many problems. Government regulators are simply made up of people, who are then given certain powers - and can make decisions based on their own prejudices too. They can create advantages for some and problems for others just because of how they decide to think.

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This is a very complicated issue with stakeholders on both sides firmly entrenched. All I know in dealing with this issue at the Fisheries Round Table over the past 3 or 4 years I am officially :angel_devil:

I have yet to be convinced by either side that there is a long term benefit without some risk.

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Good topic guys I like brian have mix emotions. What does it boil down to. As a consumer it is up to us to make sure we are asking the right questions when we inquire about a fishing guide service. ei insurance, what kind of train or experince in the line of guiding and does he have his first aid certificate or not. But at the the same time there should be some kind of guide line set out for this profession. As it stand I could put an ad in the paper and be a professional fishing guide anywhere in Alberta today. :devil:


Damd if you do damed if you do. :devil:


Just my thoughts :laugh:


Tight lines always

Dennis S :fishing::fish_jump:

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This is not a complicated issue.

We deal with businesses that are unregulated by government every day, at least with respect to what we're talking about here.

Do you expect the guy you hire to mow your lawn or clean your furnace to be regulated by government? How about that fixit guy who does home repairs or the used car salesman, barber, golf pro, tennis instructor, personal chef or tai kwan do master? There are all kinds of personal service businesses that do not have or need government regulation. They have to get a business license from the municipality and a GST number for Revenue Canada if what they are doing constitutes a business. But other than that there's no regulations for training, insurance, financial resources or customer satisfaction. The customer is expected to do their own homework with respect to reputation, competence, track record and financial resources before purchase of the service.

So why would you demand that government license a fishing guide? If he's running a business, then I'd expect him to have a business license and a GST number. But why require him to meet some kind of government imposed training and financial requirements? And if you did, who would you trust to set and enforce those requirements, the guides them selves or some hired civil servant (like me)?

And even where there is strict regulation such as for doctors, dentist, lawyers and engineers, there's no guarantee that you get perfect service all the time.

Is it reasonable to expect government to closely regulate every personal service business? If so , then you are delegating responsibility for your own welfare to some faceless bureaucrat who may or may not have your interest as a customer at heart.

If you ask me, this proposal has more to do with creating a private preserve for some guides than with protecting the consumer. Isn't that exactly what happened in BC? Is that what we want here?

Not Me!

Edited by dave robinson
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The fisheries of the Province of Alberta are a Public resource.

They are owned by you and I as Albertans.


Every activity that PROFITS (or attempts to profit) from a resource that you and I own...must pay some form of restitution back to the rightful owners of that resource.


Oil, gas and other resource companies pay royalties.

Forestry companies pay fees.


Why should fishing guides that use our resource be exempt from this?

Why should they not contribute some of their income to go directly back into that resource?


Understand that this is not an issue of trying to protect a client from a shady guide or unsatisfactory guide experience...it is an issue of trying to protect our resource and our right to enjoyment of same.



In some cases...people that fish for profit are already impacting you and I, the public user, in our angling experiences.

It is happening on the Bow, the Crow, The Red Deer, the Ram....and yes, even on the North Raven....just to name a few.



Currently, the provincial government has NO idea how great the impact of guiding is on the recreational Albertan user. Nor do they know how great the impact of guiding is to the fishery itself. They don't even know how many guides there are....how many trips....how many fish caught....how many fish killed.


With the obvious decline in the fishery in the province, it is becoming more and more important to understand the impact of what is becoming a larger and larger component of the resource user base...the guiding industry.


It has taken the Provincial roundtable over three years to finally implement a ban on "for Profit" tournament fishing and

take the first steps in instituting restrictions and monitoring for "non-profit" tournaments. It will take time to

understand the impacts of those allowed tournaments on specific fisheries.


In order to better understand the implications of guiding on OUR resource...the logical first step is to license and monitor

guiding activities.....funded by monies collected from fees paid by guides, or should I say, their clients.


In ALL cases the health of the fishery should be paramount....secondly should be the RIGHT of you and I, the owners of the resource, to enjoy that recreational fishery without impact from those that profit from it.


Remember that the next time you fish Stauffer, and have three guides each with a client situated every 200 yards on a creek that is less than 2 meters wide in some spots. Do the guides care about your angling experience?....doubtful, I'm sure they are more concerned about the $600USD that they will collect from each of their clients.


Furthermore, in ALL cases, it must be understood that any form of licensing program should NOT constitute granting of any RIGHTS to guides on any piece of water in this Province....nor should there be any implications of such.



The argument that "allowing the free market to operate" with regard to the future of the fisheries of this Province...is,

quite frankly, not very compelling.



A final note....I would submit that the $300K number thrown out as a cost to implement such a licensing program is

unfounded....and likely suggested as a scare tactic by those opposed to the licensing idea. It certainly is not costing

$300K yearly for the tournament program.

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This topic is more complicated than most people think. Most of the concerns are genuine from that side of the fence. My question remains: Who wants the licensing? and who is pushing it and for what reason? There are a tremendous amount of guides within the province. Walk and Wade , Float trips, power boat trips, fly in trips and lodges. What license guidline would cover all.

I'm still :angel_devil:


I will be attending this meeting on Saturday with a very open mind.

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Sorry I disagree that this is complicated or about protecting the resource.

The arguments that licensing will somehow protect the resource is bunk, unless you use it to limit access. Isn't that what this is all about?

The argument about guides and clients ooccupying shoreline points out the basis of that.

The only way to stop it, with or without licensing, would be to limit access.

That's what they did in BC. Limit the guided days and limit access by charging non-residents an extra fee. That is only one step away from limiting access for eveyone. Which of course they did with their "classified" waters where you can only fish with a licensed guide and they limit the number of guides and guided trips.

And if you really want to charge a fee for "for profit" use of a public resource, then let's start with water. Let's charge evey municipality, landowner, irrigator (and that means homeowners),rancher, farmer, business owner etc the TRUE cost of extracting water. We don't currently do that, and it impacts the fishery far more than guiding ever will.

How about we charge the TRUE cost of resource use. Lets up the tree fees, gas and oil royalties to cover all the road building, habitiat restoration, reforestation, CO2 production and reclamaition asociated with those industrial uses. They have way more impact on fish habitiat and the fishery than guides or their clients ever will.

Then how about air? Lets charge every business that uses air for combustion, production of compressed gasses and other "for profit" uses, a fee based on cubic feet of air used. Maybe then we'd not have to worry about global warming ruining all our fisheries far more than guides ever will.

And as for the government not being able to track how guides and their clients use the fishery, I say that's no different than for every other fisherman. All clients need a license the same as you and I do. So what's to stop them tracking guide clients the same way they track us. Oops! They don't do very well at that do they? So what makes you think they will do better with guide licenses? As a matter of fact we have thousands of unlicensed fishers in this province. Anyone under 16, over 65 or of aborignal descent. Lets start there first. Those numbers are way higher than guide clients are or ever will be.

And cost? In my view, any effective licensing program will cost way more than $300K per year. $300K would barely pay for the capital and operating cost of the infrastructure requried to issue licenses and collect and use the data generated. Then there's the manpower cost of manging the system and enforcement. So how many civil servants (and their support space, vehicles, gasoline etc) do you think $300K per year buys? Maybe three at best.

Most of what I've seen so far about licensing is, at it root, aimed at limiting numbers of guides and their clients. There's no other way to describe it except that it limits competition and eventually, access.

So let's call a spade a spade. Guide licensing is nothing more than an anti-competative, business driven idea aimed at eventually limiting access to our fisheries.

Edited by dave robinson
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Has anyone else ever heard that Alberta has the highest fishing pressure in the world? Or at least Canada? I can't remember where I picked that up, and when I googled it, I found nothing like a list, or article on the subject.


Anyway, from what I vaguely recall about Alberta fishing licence numbers, and the relative dryness of this region, I'm fairly sure we lead the nation in pressure. If this were true, would it not make sense to limit access?



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Come on Rick. Think about it a bit.


California has less land area than Alberta.

San Francisco metro area has 7 million people whereas Alberta has max 3.2 Million

San Fran has heavily used trout ponds and a casting club right in golden gate park

So who do you think is likely to have the most angling pressure?

The state of California licenses guides at about $190.00 per year, but does not use it to restrict access.

BC on the other hand has way more land area, fewer people and tons more fishable water,

yet they use guide licensing to restrict access to the best water in the province.

So how long would it be before special interest pressure in Alberta would lead to the temptation to do the same?


And on the access restriction score, be careful what you ask for.

Do you want to have to hire a guide just for the privilege to fish Stauffer, or the Bow?

And do you want your fishing access to be decided by some politician regulating behind closed doors by Order in Council?

Or would you rather the British system where you pay $300 to $500 per day plus a $300 per day guide cost to fish a specific 100 yard beat? How many people can afford that on a regular basis?


I believe fishing in Alberta should be available to everyone, regardless of wealth.

I would accept access restriction only as a last resort prior to complete fishery closure.

And while I do hire a guide from time to time, it should be my choice if when and who I hire, not a mandate of government. We don't need Nanny State deciding who we fish with.

We live in free country and I want to keep it that way.

This kind of crap is the thin edge of the wedge to losing bits of that freedom.


Show me compelling evidence that public safety and fishery survival is at risk,

and that licensing guiding is the only possible remedy and I might change my mind.

But right now, we're a light year or two away from that.



Edited by dave robinson
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dave robinson;


It is clearly apparent from the tone of your last two posts that your position on maintaining status quo is one that will not be changed....and, as such I will not take the time to rebut each of your points.


However, I would like to reiterate one of my points....one that perhaps you missed;


"Furthermore, in ALL cases, it must be understood that any form of licensing program should NOT

constitute granting of any RIGHTS to guides on any piece of water in this Province....nor

should there be any implications of such."



Second, although I am somewhat familiar with the BC freshwater fishing regulations, could you please direct me to the section that requires hiring of a guide in order to fish on classified waters.


Could you also please elaborate on your statement that BC uses "guide licensing to restrict access to the best water in the province".



In closing, given your strong opinion(s) on this subject....I would encourage you to take the opportunity to attend the meeting and voice your concerns there.

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My apologies:

Checking the BC regs tells me that there is no requirement to hire a guide to fish BC waters. However, if you look at what the definition of guiding is, anyone who is not a licensed guide, who assists a fellow angler in any way, and accepts compensation in any form, even gas money, a promise to buy a beer or diner, is guilty of an offence. So if you spot or row for your friend, you'd better be careful what you say and do.


As for limiting access, what do you call a $40 a day fee except an economic limit on access. And what do you call a draw for access to only certain parts of the Dean river except limiting access. And do guides have to enter the same draw or do they just put in tons of applications to ensure they get slots for their customers?


Oh yeah, and that bit about profiting from a public resource. Let's clear up the semantics.

Forestry, gas and oil companies extract and sell the public resource. Of course they should pay for doing that. So should the folks that sell bottled water, but somehow the government overlooks that one. But that's not what guides do. They don't capture and sell fish. Unless you have a commercial fishing license, that's illegal in Alberta. What they do profit from is advice. Lots of people do that in lots of different industries. If a guide intends to fish, he must buy a fishing license as does his client. That's the fee we all pay to make use of the resource. Asking a guide to pay a license fee to provide advice on how to use the resource (which gets passed on to his customer) is akin to double billing. Should we ask the government to license birding guides for showing people where to look at birds or travel agents for showing people where the mountains are?


Regardless, I still resent the idea of the government telling me who I can hire to go fishing with. And I still view the idea of licensing guides as nothing more than an economic lobby aimed at reducing the number of guides (and hence the number of customers) so that those who are licensed can make more money.


An no, I'll not attend the meeting. If government ever considers guide licensing, I'll make my representations to the Minister of SRD, the Minister of Employment and Immigration and the Premier.

Edited by dave robinson
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Today at the discussion meeting re: Licensing Guides. Demand did not appear to be there from public, government or by more than some of the guides. It it now up to the guides to establish a set of minimum standards that should apply, get the guides themselves on stream prior to bringing up the topic to the Round Table in approx. 1 yrs. time.


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An appropriate outcome in my view.

What those who favour licencing need to do is form an industry association, with standards, a code of conduct and an organization that can promote their industry. If they do that properly there should be no need for licensing as good guides will be proud to belong and customers can make informed decisions on who they want to hire.

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Well said Dave. Membership in a recognised and internationally accredited association would create a comfort zone for prospective clients as well as the Guides themselves. If the Codes of Conduct and standards are appropriote then there would be absolutely no need for Government Regulation.


Dave M

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My apologies:

Checking the BC regs tells me that there is no requirement to hire a guide to fish BC waters. ...............

Dave, you may have been thinking of some of the things that are being suggested for certain classified waters. The following is taken from a thread on the Fly Fish Calgary forum concerning the Skeena AMP.


Quality Waters Strategy – Hierarchy of exclusion


The Quality Waters Strategy (MOE 2005) states: “Where angling opportunities

become oversubscribed, decisions regarding angling opportunities will reflect the

priority and interests of British Columbian resident anglers.” The strategy also states

that “The recommended hierarchy of diversion/exclusion is as follows:

1. Non Guided Non Canadian

2. Non Guided Non BC

3. Guided Non Canadian

4. Guided Non BC

5. BC Anglers, guided and non-guided”


What this means is that if the quality of angling on a particular river is poor due to

crowding or other issues, the first groups regulated are the non-residents (1 and 2),

the second groups regulated are the guided anglers (3 and 4), and the last group

regulated is the resident anglers. This is often referred to as the Quality Waters

Strategy hierarchy of exclusion.


For the link to the thread go to http://flyfishcalgary.com/board/index.php?showtopic=10571



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Dave, I realize that California is both smaller geographically, and more populous than Alberta.


The public education system did not let me down.


However, neither of these facts are relevant. Fishing pressure is determined by miles of fishable water divided by number of licenced anglers, isn't it?



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I believe that the figure used is not streams but lakes. ie: Alberta has only 800 lakes divided by the population to achieve that number. When you consider that the vast majority of these lakes are in the virtually non inhabited Northern 1/2 of the province, means that any within 100 mile radius of major urban areas are under extreme pressure.


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At its simplest, yes.

Other factors such as demographics, affordability, accessibility, publicity, length of season, productivity, number of days fished per angler etc. may alter that.

I don't have numbers for licensed anglers in California, but one could make a guess.

Last I heard Alberta had around 350,000 licensed anglers out of a population of about 3,500.000 or about 10%.

As of 2008 census California had 36,756,666 or about 10X Alberta's population.

so even if California had 1/4 the percentage of licensed anglers, they'd still outnumber us by a factor of about 25 to 1.

I have no idea of the miles of fish-able water in California, but considering how far south it is and how that would affect fish habitat, with the exception of mountain streams and tail water fisheries, plus being relatively arid on the coast,

I'd bet that they have less than we do.

Edited by dave robinson
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No offense, Dave, but are you sure about that math? California's population outnumbers ours 10 to 1. Taken as fact. 10% of our population fishes, so if 2.5% of their population fishes, they outnumber us by 25 to 1? I don't think so. 2.5% of 36,756,666 comes up on my calculator as 918,916. They would outnumber us by a factor of about 2.6 to 1.


And according to my friends who live in California, the whole desert thing is like how most people think Saskatchewan is all prairie. They say the north part is lush and verdant. I've certainly read more articles in fly fishing mags about California than I have of Alberta.



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Oops. Decimal place slip. I thought it looked funny at the time. That's what I get for doing stuff like this late at night.

Regardless, all those numbers are purely speculation. but they do give one an order of magnitude impression.

I wouldn't be surprised it California has more than a million anglers. Which would make that 3x as many as Alberta

in a much smaller land mass. The larger number also explains why you see so many articles in the fishing magazines. It's a much bigger market for the magazine and it's advertisers. Its' even bigger if you consider all the other fishers in an American population of 304 million who, by the way, read those magazines and travel to California to fish, adding to the pressure.

I've seen the coastal part of northern California. there's a bunch of big sand dunes there

The Imperial Sand Dunes, sometimes called the Algodones Dunes, are the largest mass of sand dunes in California. This dune system extends for more than 40 miles along the eastern edge of the Imperial Valley

The Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area (8,150 acres)

The last remaining coastal sand dunes open to Off-Highway Vehicles. Formerly known as Pismo Beach. There are about 3,500 acres in the SVRA, with 2,000 set aside as buffer/preserve.

Rasor Off-Highway Vehicle Area (22,500 acres of open riding area)

Samoa Dunes A 300 acre area

Then there's the Mohave Desert which occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Named after the Mohave Native Americans it occupies roughly 54,000 square miles in a typical Basin and Range topography.

And not to forget

Death Valley National Park: A Land of Extremes Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest desert.

Yep! All in California and no fishing there.

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Maybe this "angling pressure" thing is just something I heard an Albertan say, like if you ask an Alaskan, everything from Alaska is the biggest of it's kind.


It kind of sounds like you're saying Saskatchewan is all prairie, Dave. Their exact words were "Northern California is just like Oregon." They weren't talking about the vineyards(my first question), and the FF articles I've read on California usually show some greenery, and not just in the river valleys. What about the giant redwoods and sequioas? I don't know if those are rainforests, but there's not too many trees like that in any desert I've seen.


Just so I'm not totally conceding, I've always heard that Canadian angler participation is much higher than American(per capita), and Alberta is at the upper end for Canada, so I think it is possible that California has less than your estimated 2.5%.


I am surprised that neither of us was able to find any stats or references on the matter.



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