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New fishing guide regulations are bad for Minnesota lake guides, Sen. Klobuchar tells Coast Guard

Tough new Coast Guard regulations for small-charter-boat captains — which include some fishing guides in Minnesota — were challenged Thursday by Sen.

Tough new Coast Guard regulations for small-charter-boat captains — which include some fishing guides in Minnesota — were challenged Thursday by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, when she questioned the proposed new Coast Guard commandant in Washington D.C.

The new rules require training and a special Coast Guard license, and include  a background check and security screening and taking a test to prove proficiency in navigation and safety, said the Bemidji Pioneer.

To obtain one of the new licenses, boat operators must attend dozens of hours of classroom work and pay $1,200 to $1,500, opponents say. For small-fishing-boat operators in northern Minnesota, that could put many out of business, the paper said.

Minnesota’s federally navigable waters include many lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and others such as Rainy Lake, Namakan Lake, and Lake Mille Lacs. The Mississippi River, Minnesota River and Lake Superior are federally navigable, but most operators on those bodies of water are already licensed by the Coast Guard.

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Klobuchar told the paper that she’s heard “time and time again when I was in northern Minnesota from Bemidji to Brainerd to Walker to International Falls about the concerns of fishing boat operators and the people in the BWCA.”

She raised questions at the confirmation hearing of Vice Adm. Robert Papp Jr., who is President Obama’s choice to head the Coast Guard.

“He assured me that he would work on this in a sensible way, understanding that it would be very expensive if we didn’t,” Klobuchar said.

Said the paper:

Klobuchar wasn’t overly optimistic, but said that Papp “pledged to me they would be sensible in how they looked at this and how they enforce them, and they would try to find a way to ensure safety and also show common sense in requiring this much money and this much licensing.”

There are efforts in the Legislature, too, to get the feds to reconsider the rules, as they apply to Minnesota fishing guides.