Charter boats will get to fish in Canada

PORT CLINTON After two weeks of debate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reversed its decision on
May 24, 2010



After two weeks of debate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reversed its decision onCanadian fishing.

Charter boat captains and fishermen will not be required to report to Customs when they cross the Canadian border to fish.

“That’s real good news,” said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association in Marblehead. “I have spent a great deal of time on this issue.

“As soon as I get something in writing, I can let the captains know. These changes are going to be a big help to us,” he added.

Customs and Border Protection began reviewing the regulation after several charter boat captains expressed concern it could affect their business.

“Boating season is just about here; therefore, it’s prudent that this information is explained to the public and boating community,” said BrettSturgeon, Customs and Border Protection spokesman. “That way they know what’sreportable or what’s not.”

Sturgeon said U.S. citizens who cross the Canadian border will not be required to report if they fish or drop anchor; however, they will have to report themselves if they make contact with a foreign port or place or Canadian vessel.

Identification regulations were also relaxed.

Sturgeon said previously that if someone wanted to fish in Canadian waters, they would need a passport or government-issued photo ID and birth or naturalization certificate, in addition to a fishing license.

“If they go into Canadian waters, they do not necessarily need that identification,” Sturgeon said. “As a general guidance, it’s always advisable to have some identification on you, but it’s not a requirement if you’re just fishing in Canadian waters.”

If fishermen do make contact with a foreign port or place, they will be required to present all the proper identification when they report, Sturgeon said.

Unger said the identification requirements would have been a problem for the Amish, who often charter fishing boats. It is against their religion to be photographed.

“That would have been impossible for them to comply,” Unger said. “Going from that extreme to not necessarily needing any ID is a big reversal.”

The regulations reversal is exciting for many charter captains because it will mean an uptick in business, said Mike Matta, who runs Matta Charter Fishing in Port Clinton.

“That’s absolutely great news,” Matta said. “It shows that there’s common sense in our government. We might get a positive bounce back and actually get more people to come back.”