Fishing guide licensing

Minnesota fishing guides and others who carry only a few passengers for hire in their boats may need that U.S. Coast Guard license this year after all.

A week ago, a Coast Guard official in St. Louis told Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson that most guides probably would get a break this year from license requirements on most federally "navigable’’ waters in the state. But last week, a Coast Guard official in New Orleans clarified that position.

"There has been no determination on whether inland Minnesota fishing guides will be given a licensing requirement postponement,’’wrote Mike O’Berry of the Coast Guard’s district office in New Orleans. He said the Coast Guard is looking at a number of options to "help ease the burdens’’ of the licensing process "while maintaining acceptable standards for safe operation.’’

Federal license requirements are still in place, he said. But, O’Berry wrote: "For now, operators not in compliance with applicable standards may be allowed to continue operations, provided they are making strides toward gaining regulatory compliance and their vessels and operations are not considered hazardous.’’

The Coast Guard’s "6-Pack’’ license -- required of guides who carry six or fewer passengers for hire in relatively small boats -- has been on the books for decades, but hasn’t been enforced on most inland waters. Passage of a rigorous navigation and marine safety test is required to gain a license, as is certification in CPR. Drug and health screenings also must be passed.

The Mississippi River and much of the St. Croix River are considered navigable by the Coast Guard, as are Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods and most of the Boundary Waters, as well as inland waters such as Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake. Lake Mille Lacs was on, then apparently off the Coast Guard’s list of navigable waters. Now it’s uncertain.

"In regards to Mille Lacs, the legal determination of its navigability and federal jurisdiction is still being determined,’’ O’Berry wrote. To read O’Berry’s full letter, see www.startribune.com/cluboutdoors.

 

Deer harvest

 

As we reported earlier, Minnesota’s deer harvest was down 12 percent last season. The final numbers are in, and hunters killed 194,178 deer. Archers killed 20,659, a 9 percent decline from 2008. Muzzleloaders killed 8,091, a 15 percent decline. And regular firearms hunters shot 165,428 deer, a 13 percent decline.

 

 

 

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