Mandatory Fishing Education Card



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  • Mandatory Fishing Education Card

    Before I buy an Alaskan sportfishing license, I must have a fishing education card. Too radical? But, is it really? In most states, depending on date of birth, a hunter education card is required to purchase a hunting license, regardless of weapon or species to be hunted. This is obtainable after attending a short course covering firearms safety, hunting ethics, resource conservation, game biology, etc.

    However, I can legally buy a fishing license, strap a .44 to my side, grab my rod, and head to the river among large concentrations of people and wildlife. Take a moment and think about the possibilities for conflict.

    Fishing ed. training would give the recipient a basic knowledge in fish identification, equipment, fish biology, regulations, fishing with bears, fishing in crowded conditions, and ethics. The means of delivery is already in place. Hunter education courses are given regularly by ADF&G. The same can be done for fishing.

    All of Alaskaís fisheries would benefit from this. There are simply too many people out there that are causing a negative experience for others. After talking to some that seemed rude while fishing, it became clear that many were nice folks that just did not know proper procedure. This requirement would not eliminate every problem, but it would be a step in the right direction.

    Now, we canít jump from requiring nothing to a fishing ed. card; however, it can be slowly implemented. For example, start out with a simple, informative brochure to be given along with the fishing license. Later, phase in the education requirement for those born after a certain date if it's needed.

    Alaska is the great land, so letís keep it that way.

  • #2
    There's some good ideas and points in what you say, but even with wings and a jet engine, the political air is too thin for that lead baloon to fly.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard


    • #3
      Doesn't necessarily sound like the worst idea in the world, but probably not the best either. Although I think it would be difficult to implement given the number of non-Alaskans that come up here to fish each year. For example, if someone from kansas wants to hunt whitetail in Kansas, or Kodiak grizzlies in Alaska, they have to take hunter ed. They can take the class in Kansas and that certification transfers to all 49 remaining states (my hunter ed card is from Wyoming). If Alaska were the only state to require fisher's ed, I doubt that all other 49 states would offer the class just so some of its residents could come up to Alaska to strap a .44 to their side and fish with the bears. I doubt they have similar problems/issues in Kansas, and trying to convice those residents they need to take a class on handgun safety and fishing with bears . . . well, you can imagine the response to that.

      Additionally, I am thinking that your scenario is based on all of the recent discussions involving the lunatics at the Russian. I am sure people carry their .44s around other places, but probably not quite as prevalent as on the Russian. But to implement a statewide requirement for residents and non-residents alike when the majority of them likely will never see the Russian in any given year doesn't seem like that great of an idea.

      Instead of using the money to put together such a class and certification process, what about using it to hire a couple of extra enforcement officers to patrol the Russian, especially at the hot spots (stump hole, confluence, etc.)? I fished there this past weekend and on Sunday when I got done fishing I headed up the steps at Grayling parking lot. There was a DFG officer sitting at the top of the steps. I am not sure what he was doing there. Checking limits of fish? He never asked to see mine. Checking licenses? Didn't ask. I talked with him a little bit and told him about the bears that had walked up the boardwalk and were about 10-15 feet from one guy who almost fainted when he saw them, scurried into the river and crossed over to where everyone else was. I also told him it seemed like people were doing a decent job of keeping their bags close to them although one guy had his fish tied to a log that was quite a bit away from him. The officers response - "well, that is good, that is what we are trying to get people to do, keep their stuff close. Glad to hear it." I couldn't help but think maybe he would be better served actually down on the river, telling people what they needed to do when they let their bags get too far, or leave their fish 30 yards away to catch more. I am all in favor of educating people on the things they should be doing, especially on the Russian where there seems to be more lunatics than anywhere else. But I think I'd rather see officers handing out tickets for illegal fishing, illegally firing off handguns, etc. than requiring me to go to a class. A ticket of $100 or more is usually a pretty good learning experience in itself.

      Just my $.02
      Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.


      • #4
        With the hords of people that vacation here in the summers, it would be very difficult to ask them to sit through a class before buying a fishing licenses. Who would teach the class? How many times per week or even day would you teach the class? How long would the class take? What would be the increase cost by the state in materials, man or woman power, and processing test results?

        However, an online version of a short class could easily be implemented. Does the DMV ring a bell here? Walk in, grab a book, read it in a couple of hours, go back and take the test. The computers could be linked to a central database for processing. Test results and confirmation numbers could be printed at the testing station, just like a store receipt. These receipts would be taken to the service desk or sporting goods dept in order to complete the transaction. In fact, the licenses itself could be printed at the computer. Kiosks could be placed in stores such as Wal-mart and Fred's. I know the technology is there.

        It seems a computer based system could cut cost in the long run, which may free up enough money to put dedicated fish and game officers in the field. The state could also double the fines since everyone is educated. Its one thing to not know the law and break it. (I know ignorance is no excuse and should be fined.) However, a training class would (in theory) ensure everyone is educated to the law.

        Before I left Kentucky, the fish and game had completely switched to telephone based license printers. They looked identical to little credit card processors. Key pad and printer all in one. The associate at Wal-mart or wherever would enter your drivers license number, the code for the hunting, fishing, or other license or tag you wanted, then the machine would print the license right there. All you had to do was write down your name, address, and other info like age, sex, height, weight, etc., then sign it. The paper was like Tyvek and you had to use a ball point pen or fine sharpie to fill it out.

        Conclusion, its not impossible, but do we really need it and would it be worth the effort? People are people. They are going to be stupid regardless of a training class or not. I think the biggest down side would be the politicians turning this into a license increase to pay for the technology.
        Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~Henry David Thoreau


        • #5
          Why not implement a test program at the Russian. If your crazy enough to wait in line a few hours just to fish there, might as well make use of that time. After all, it appears that fishery is the most problematic. Also, interesting point bstacy, but I still am against further bogging down the system with more regulation.


          • #6
            Originally posted by AKUNITED
            Why not implement a test program at the Russian. If your crazy enough to wait in line a few hours just to fish there, might as well make use of that time. After all, it appears that fishery is the most problematic. Also, interesting point bstacy, but I still am against further bogging down the system with more regulation.

            I've never waited in line a few minutes to fish at the Russian, let alone a few hours. I think people wait at the confluence and maybe even the stump hole. But the fish have to run the whole river to get to the top. Unless you are talking about waiting in line to get in? I've never done that either. If there are that many fish in the russian, there are lots in the Kenai too, so I just head there instead. Although I do love to fish the Russian. Just avoid the crowds, which can be done.
            Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.


            • #7
              While fishing can be frustrating because of the occasional jerks, nobody get's killed because somebody doesn't know how to set their drag.

              Lots of folks have been killed by fools with guns, hence the hunter education programs.

              There is way too much money involved in visiting fisherman to cause any restrictions that would reduce the number of visitors.
              Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

              If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.


              • #8
                there goes "Alaska"

                you've got to be kidding! How long have you lived in AK? I've now heard it all. The problem is ineffective, or non-existent enforcement of current laws/regs. This is very similar to gang violence in Anchorage. We simply can not afford the amount of 'cops' that are needed to 'police' the masses of people. Even if we did have such a program, it wouldn't be enforced on the water. The answer to the problem is less people. I knew AK would turn into a big Disney attraction dome day.


                • #9
                  As adults, we shouldn't need such things. Less is more.
                  "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey


                  • #10
                    Investment opportunities for Alaskan

                    This is the second thread posted in the last few days with an agenda aimed at enhancing "low budget" fishing locations, like the Russian river. Visiting fisherman discouraged by the misbehavior of their fellows on the river bank would like Alaska to address the issues so they can have a more enjoyable visit next year. There have been many solutions suggested with reasoning based primarily on parallel experiances in our more populated States. Some thought putting up signage could help, other thought printing and handing out flyers would be good, and now, fishing education requirements has been floated. All of these solutions, and I am sure there are many more I have not listed, are resource intensive for Alaska. Each one carries a price tag, which, in all fairness, should be paid for by those desiring to fish or visit these areas. Since, these locations are going to be visited by 1000's no matter what we do, and, providing those desiring to participate in group fishing will pony up the additional expense, why not do something to help. Every solution mentioned so far will activate the economy, and so, help Alaskan businesses. An example of how this might look in the future can be seen at Mile 230+/- on the Parks Highway. Large hotels, gift shops, discount tee all the things the discerning fisherman might want right at their fingertips. Gee, I think I'll invest in some land near the Russian.


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