Fish board aids disabled anglers, charitable works

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) - Disabled anglers are getting a boost from the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Until a board action Friday, state regulations for Kenai River sport fisheries failed to meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The board agreed to give disabled anglers who met certain criteria increased hours for fishing on the Kenai. The action gives disabled anglers the option of fishing from guided boats after 6 p.m. and on Sundays, starting this spring.

Under current rules, fishing from guide boats ends at 6 p.m. daily, and fishing from guide vessels is prohibited Sundays in May, June and July. The revised regulations give disabled anglers more hours and days to participate in the fishery -- bringing the state into compliance with ADA.

''It sounds like a very enlightened attitude,'' Jeff Jessee, executive director of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, said of the board's decision. ''I hope that the way they went about it was not to grant a special privilege out of a sense of guilt or pity, but just to give them equal access, to participate as a fisherman.''

The board also on Friday amended regulations to allow guides to fish on the Kenai River on the last two Sundays in May for charitable purposes.

The board noted that a special charity fishing event held in May 2001 allowed a number of disabled anglers to fish with guides. Participation was high, according to a committee report to the board, which recommended passage.

Charity events are a good way for guides to give back to the community and generate interest in sportfishing, according to the committee report.

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