Guides take issue with story in 'Changing Times' section

Posted: Friday, March 05, 2004

The Kenai River Professional Guide Associ-ation would like to express disappointment in Matt Tunseth's Feb. 26 article entitled, "It's not all fish and fun." Every other article in the Clarion's "Changing Times on the Kenai Peninsula" section casts a positive light on local industries, using optimistic titles such as, "Branding project revitalizing inlet fishing industry," "Wild places boost economy," "Mixing up own recipe for success" and "Real estate moves at healthy pace," while our industry is summed up by Mr. Tunseth with "It's not all fish and fun."

Unfortunately, the "doom and gloom" theme focuses on negativity in regard to the present state and future of the guided sportfishing industry. Touching on outdated details of a proposed guide training program is hardly thorough reporting. Tunseth failed to mention the current status of the new guide training program or the many positive activities local professional guides are involved in, such as the Take a Kid Fishing Day, the Take a Veteran Fishing Day, Salmon Celebration Day, the Elder Salmon Feed and other important community-related events.

Furthermore, Tunseth should have checked his facts. Steve McClure has been the president of Kenai River Professional Guides Association since November 2003 and would have been happy to help educate and enlighten him. Contrary to his reporting, Kenai River guide numbers are not on the rise. The number of registered guides has been static for the past six years and actually dropped in 2003.

Finally and most importantly, the poor choice of photo used with this article was shocking. It lacks sensitivity to our industry, our community, our law enforcement agencies and the family of Officer John Watson. The guide industry has many positive role models and leaders and we find it difficult to believe the Peninsula Clarion could not locate a photo of a more appropriate subject.

The Clarion and its editorial staff have a moral obligation to this community to move forward with the "changing times on the Kenai Peninsula." It's time to stop causing friction and dividing user groups. We would like to respectfully ask that our local paper take a more objective and accurate stance in reporting future issues, as well as considering the potential damage done by repeatedly publishing negative articles involving guided sportfishing.

Mark Glassmaker, board member, for the Kenai River Professional Guides Association

Editor's Note: We are sincerely sorry about the photograph that was used in "Changing Times on the Kenai Peninsula," but had no way of knowing who was pictured. It may help to know that when we found out, we called Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp to let him know what had happened and to apologize. We appreciate his compassion and understanding and his trust we would not run the picture on purpose. Again, we apologize. The picture was not meant to harm anyone in any way, and we sincerely regret that it was used.

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