Guidefitter interviews association leader about relevance of associations today
Guidefitter’s founder and CEO interviewed Kerrie Romero, executive director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, on the relevance of associations and how they help their members.
Bryan Koontz: First, let’s start with the basics. What are guide and outfitter associations?
Kerrie Romero: Guide-outfitter associations exist in every Canadian province and in most US states. Called everything from Council of Outfitter and Guides to Professional Hunters Associations, all of these non-profit organizations are established with the same primary mission: to advocate for the rights of the many individuals who earn a livelihood taking clients hunting and fishing.
BK: So what do these associations do?
KR: Associations provide many benefits to their members as well as non-member industry professionals. However, the primary benefit of any association is continuous, effective and respected representation in their local government. In many states and provinces the guide and outfitter association is the primary voice advocating on behalf of pro guides and outfitters and is generally the only group fighting to maintain nonresident hunter/angler opportunity.
All associations work closely with their local government agencies, such as the departments of game and fish, Forest Service and BLM. They attend important meetings where government agencies establish the rules that govern hunting and fishing to keep their members informed on the latest changes in the industry. Many associations also have an established relationship with their local department of tourism. These relationships help the hunting and fishing industry by educating the general public about the economic, social and conservation benefits provided by hunting and fishing outfitters and guides.
Most associations are also involved with their national counterpart, the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America (POGA) and the Canadian Federation of Outfitter Associations (CFOA). This helps the local association stay connected on a national level and provides a unified voice on issues that would have a country-wide impact on the industry.
Additionally many associations give members marketing assistance through their website and publications. Most association websites include a searchable database of member outfitting businesses where visitors can locate outfitters. They produce magazines that often include a membership directory and are distributed to interested hunters. The magazines also provide the association with something tangible to be given to hunters and anglers at industry trade shows.
Many associations also provide an additional valuable service to prospective guided clients by making sure their guide and outfitter members are properly licensed (in those areas that require a license) and have no outstanding complaints or legal matters pending against them. It’s like getting an additional stamp of approval on your outfit or your status as a guide from a third-party organization who is rooting for your success.
BK: But joining an association requires paying membership dues, right? What are these dues used for?
KR: Associations are 100% funded by membership dues, individual donations and grants from other non-profit conservation organizations such as Safari Club International, Dallas Safari Club and the Wild Sheep Foundation. Government funding is not an option for most associations, so many are forced to operate on a very slim budget. Most associations are actually underfunded and struggle to provide advocacy at a level equal to that of the extremely well funded anti-hunting organizations that are typically at the forefront of legislation that would negatively impact the hunting and fishing industry.
BK: Is membership in an association only open to guides and outfitters, or can others join in to help promote better advocacy for the industry and fight anti-hunting organizations?
KR: Membership opportunities vary from association to association. However, most provide multi-level memberships. All associations provide outfitter memberships. Most associations also provide guide memberships for a smaller annual membership dues amount. Some also provide sportsmen memberships, and many associations provide corporate sponsorships from manufacturers like Kenetrek, Carl Zeiss Sport Optics and others.
BK: This all sounds good, but why are some outfitters and guides in the industry anti-association or at least highly skeptical of what associations do, and why do they ask their members to pay membership dues?
KR: It is a reality that many individuals who earn a livelihood as an outfitter or guide are skeptical of the value provided to them by an association. This is primarily due to the fact that most individuals have little idea what really goes on day-to-day in their state government.
In any particular year, industry professionals simply don’t understand how close they came to losing their rights as a pro guide or outfitter, nor do they realize that it was due to the efforts of the associations that many of those rights were preserved.
For example, the Alaska Professional Hunters Association is currently in a huge legal battle to save nonresident hunter opportunity on Kodiak Island. One person has filed a lawsuit to make all Kodiak tags resident only.
Our association, NMCOG, is opposing the Colorado wolf re-introduction plan. The proposed range is close to the New Mexico border. It’s highly likely those wolves would move south into our state, especially in the winter when their prey base migrates into New Mexico. The association must direct the bulk of its annual operating budget to advocating on behalf of the industry. That means, unfortunately, there is typically not much left over to effectively communicate all of the successes with non-member professionals in the industry. That is why it is so important to become a member.
You will help support the efforts of the local association and provide an avenue to further industry communication to the individuals earning a livelihood as a hunting or fishing outfitter or guide.
Guidefitter, to keep its members informed, assembles a comprehensive list of all the world’s guide and outfitter associations.
The groups listed here promote and defend those who make their living taking sportsmen and women hunting and fishing.
If you have information to add to the list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get it added to the list.
As the official organization for NM Outfitters and Guides, we are proud to represent the finest hunting and fishing professionals in the state of New Mexico. Established in 1978. NMCOG strives to promote and enhance the outdoor recreation industry by supporting ethical hunting practices and wildlife conservation. Our members spend thousands of hours in the field annually and have a practical knowledge regarding location, health, and quality of game populations.
The Coastal Bend Guides Association is a 501(c (6) organization comprised of a voluntary group of individual businesses who have agreed to help one another achieve excellence in the areas of safety and regulatory compliance and become the gold standard of professional mariners in the Coastal Bend while giving back to the community. You can be confident in your choice that all of our members are genuine professional guides.
Founded in 1929, NOTO is dedicated to proactive planning, development, and promotion of a strong nature & outdoor tourism industry in Ontario.
We are a group of community members with an interest in developing a proactive approach to wildlife management in our remote region of northern British Columbia.
Committed to Conservation and a Sustainable Outfitting Heritage
The Saskatchewan Commission of Professional Outfitters (SCPO) is an industry-driven, not-for-profit association made up of licensed professional outfitters. Our members know the lay of the land, the whims of weather, the habits of local fish & game. Professionalism ensures a first-rate guest experience. Use Find an Outfitter to search for a hunting or fishing adventure by region, species or camp type.
The mission of the QOF is to represent and promote the collective interests of its members in order to support and improve the business environment.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association (N.L.O.A.) is a non-profit business organization whose members consist of Hunting and Fishing outfitters in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Association has been around over 50 years and has had a positive impact on the economic growth of our province.
NBPOGA is committed to providing one united voice to all users of the hunting, fishing and guiding industry. It promotes the New Brunswick fishing and hunting industry equitably for all members of the Association, raising the profile of outfitting and guiding in a positive and professional manner, and providing support to new and existing members. Are you a New Brunswick bear hunting outfitter, NB fishing outfitter, or NB professional guide? Become a member today to join our efforts, have a voice, and benefit from programs our exclusive members insurance program with HUB International.
The Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association represents the province's fishing, hunting and outdoor tourism operators. Our members are seasoned professionals when it comes to putting you onto big fish and trophy game, but they are also just as dedicated to ensuring all their guests have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience that they will want to re-live year after year. When you come to Manitoba, don't be surprised if you're treated like family here and head home as a friend.
Our organization - backed by more than 3,800 members - brings professional guides and sportsmen together to protect everyone's hunting and fishing opportunities in Northern California. We work closely with other conservation and habitat organizations to preserve land and waterways in order for future generations to be able to hunt and fish. We actively lobby for hunting rights and advocate for our state to raise more fish. Together we are the Sportsmen's Voice!
More and more anglers are looking for a way to make the American pastime of fishing into a profession. The term "professional" in the context of fishing can mean many things. It can refer to a tournament angler who pays an entry fee with hopes of winning money, even earning a living that way. It might be a professional guide or charter captain. It can be an angler involved with industry promotion, or an angler who educates other fishermen about the sport. Each of these professions requires skill, industry connections and constant improvement, as well as the ability to interact with the public in a professional manner. All of that is available through the NPAA.
The McKenzie River Guides Association is a group of over 50 licensed and insured guides who offer fishing, boating and rafting services on the McKenzie, Willamette and coastal rivers of Lane County.
The Western North Carolina Guides Association is an organization of Professional Fishing Guides, Corporate Affiliates, and Anglers who are working together toward the goal of "Better fishing through conservation". We believe it is essential to lobby for improvement and protection of the rights of recreational anglers for access and responsible use of the natural resources available in Western North Carolina.
SEAGO is the voice of Southeast Alaska charter fishing and lodge operations in Alaska and their supporters. We are committed to representing the industry on all critical issues, for the long-term. Our mission is to promote the tradition of sport fishing in Southeast Alaska through reasonable regulations that ensure the long-term sustainability of our businesses and fish resources.
With nearly 1,000 members statewide, FOAM assists fishing outfitters and guides in Montana by offering insurance, regulatory and legislative representation, and licensing and business advocacy.
The Washington State Guides Association is composed of professional licensed fishing guides & charter operators throughout Washington state. We have members who fly-fish, conventional gear fish, work from a drift boat, river sled, and even larger charter boats. We even have members who provide walk in fishing services.
The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) represents the community of fly fishing businesses aligned around the sustainable growth of fly fishing, a commitment to conservation, and policies that support a thriving industry. As a trade association, AFFTA's role is to help fly fishing businesses collaborate, coalesce and concentrate on issues facing the industry. AFFTA is the bridge linking the ecology and economy of fly fishing.
NACO is the national association of charterboat owners and operators that was formed in 1991. Representing thousands of individuals all across the United States, our membership includes marine charters who provide fishing, sailing, diving, eco-tours, and other excursion vessels who carry passengers for hire. As the premiere Association that represents charter boat interests, our objective is to improve the professional charter boat operator's bottom line and to provide a strong voice in Washington, DC.
Every day, we stand together with over 900 organizations that have a vested interest in the health, growth and expansion of the sportfishing industry.
The Florida Guides Association (FGA) is a highly regarded statewide organization established in 1991. Comprised of Professional Fishing Guides, Corporate Affiliates, and Associate Affiliates, FGA has been diligently collaborating to promote "Better fishing through conservation." Our primary objective is to safeguard the rights of recreational anglers and advocate for responsible access and utilization of Florida's abundant natural resources in its State waters.
Formed to protect, enhance, and promote healthy sport-fisheries and the ecosystems, which we all depend on in the Pacific Northwest.
Built by guides and industry professionals, the Outdoor Guide Association offers benefits and services to help professional fishing guides maintain complete health. Strong, healthy guides create better client experiences and keep our industry and community vibrant, engaged, and thriving.
A pioneer in conservation since 1956, the Florida Keys Guides Association (FKFGA) is a non-profit organization comprised of professional fishing guides committed to preserve and protect the fisheries and other natural resources of the Florida Keys and Everglades.
The Lower Keys Guides Association's (LKGA) goal is to preserve rights and access to the fishery and to promote a style of use that is both sustainable and part of the area's cultural heritage. We call for management practices at both the State and Federal level, that protect the resource and maintain access for sport fishermen.
The IGFA is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making, record keeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling.
It is our mission to ensure American public access to fishing, to engage and represent the Charter for Hire industry, and to ensure long-term sustainability of our fisheries.
The mission of Fly Fishers International is to foster the legacy of fly fishing for all fish in all waters through conservation, education, and inspiring a growing community of fly fishers.
We are a coalition of forward-thinking guides, small business owners and like-minded anglers who understand the value of fish in the water. We realize that abundance equals opportunity for all, and that such opportunity is more important to the future of our fisheries than filling the cooler today.
The Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA) is the only professional guide industry organization in Alaska. We are committed to defending, preserving and promoting Alaska's professional guide industry against the many perils that face us on a daily basis and have been doing so with the help of our conservation partners for over 40 years. We are the leading organization guarding nonresident hunting rights in Alaska and are dedicated to the conservation of Alaska's Wildlife Resources.
The Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association (IOGA) is a statewide organization representing licensed outfitters and guides throughout the state. The organization was established in 1954 in Salmon, Idaho. IOGA is now approaching its 7th decade of advocating for and defending the things most central to our industry needs and outdoor, recreational values: clean, free-flowing streams; quality fish and wildlife habitat and populations; reasonable rules and regulations; appropriate access, and; generally the conservation of Idaho's lands, waters, and wildlife and the enhancement of quality outdoor recreation experiences therewith .
Working together to protect, maintain and enhance the opportunity to hunt, fish and enjoy the Colorado outdoors.
CROA is a trade association representing approximately 50 licensed professional river rafting outfitters who specialize in providing outstanding outdoor adventures for families and individuals of all tastes and capabilities. The organization's mission is to promote rafting in Colorado and provide a reasoned voice on legislative, regulatory and other developments that affect the commercial rafting industry, the health of local rivers and Colorado's tourism economy as a whole.
The Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia has been in existence since 1966. Our purpose is to serve the interests of the guide outfitting industry.
MOGA serves as a relentless and highly effective advocate for the outfitting industry in the political arena with Federal and State government and with management agencies. MOGA provides its outfitter and guide members with ongoing marketing support to help increase awareness about trips and lodging options for prospective clients.
Whether it's hunting monster mule deer, giant bull elk, fly fishing in high mountain lakes or backpacking into remote areas of Nevada, our association outfitters can help you have one of the most enjoyable adventures of your lifetime.
The professional outfitters and guides of the Association are dedicated to the tradition of fair and equal opportunity, for quality outdoor experiences, for every person, and to conserve and enhance forever the enduring heritage of the land and waters of the Pacific Northwest for humanity and wildlife.
Since 1963, OOGA has served outfitters and guides licensed and operating in Oregon. We advocate for the preservation, growth and strength of the Oregon guiding and outfitting industry. Our industry provides sustainable jobs, enhances rural economies, and relies on the quality and availability of Oregon's diverse landscapes. We support investment in outdoor recreation and advocate for protection and conservation of our state's remarkable natural resources.
We, the Members of the Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association believe that outfitting is a business venture that depends upon access to wildland resources, including good hunting and fishing for success; and that, those engaged in such business are obligated not only to promote the conservation and restoration of wildlands, fish and wildlife, but to provide the public with high quality facilities and professional services so they may enjoy these resources. We pledge ourselves and our organization to full cooperation with the management and sustainable use of our wildlands and renewable wildlife resources. We further pledge ourselves to aid the governing agencies to promulgate and enforce all rules and regulations; and to formulate controlling regulations over all outfitters in the state.
The New York State Outdoor Guides Association (NYSOGA) was originally founded on June 28, 1891 and reorganized in 1981. NYSOGA represents guides from every part of New York State, with its organizational structure following that of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's "regional" lines.
Registered Maine Guides have a long and colorful history along with being recognized around the world as the gold standard in outdoor skills and knowledge. Maine Guides were first registered by the state 1897. The Maine Professional Guides Association is made up of Registered Maine Guides who strive to enhance the standards of guiding. They are professionals dedicated to quality, ethical outdoor experiences. Contact us to learn more.
The Alberta Professional Outfitters Society (APOS) is a not for profit, Delegated Administrative Organization (DAO), administering the outfitted-hunting industry in Alberta. Established in 1997, it is an arms-length, self-funded, legal entity with the purpose of delivering services traditionally handled by government.