Trio of bills aims to provide oversight of commercial guiding in Michigan

By MUCC Policy Assistant Justin Tomei,

Michigan United Conservation Clubs has worked for more than six years through the Michigan Legislature to enact commercial guiding oversight in Michigan. This legislation has been amended several times since its original form, and it is a good starting point for making sure outdoor enthusiasts hiring guides are protected and that valuable biological data will be reported.

MUCC hopes to be working through this package of bills with the Michigan House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee in the coming weeks.


House Bills (HB) 5358, 5359, 5360 aim to provide clear, enforceable and reasonable regulations on commercial fishing and hunting guides, as well as give the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the ability to regulate commercial guides as a method of take. These bills would require commercial guides meet a minimum set of safety standards, provide useful data on species harvested to the DNR and have record clean of fish and game violations. These bills also carve out certain exemptions, such as individuals sharing expenses or private landowners assisting with the taking of game on private land. 

Quick Hits

  • $150, three-year registration fee for Michigan residents; $300 for non-resident.
  • Registration for existing charter boat operators in Michigan is free. Great Lakes and connecting waters charter boat fishing operations are partially regulated by the US Coast Guard and the state already. 
  • License fees would be deposited into the game and fish protection fund.
  • All commercial guides must possess a valid base or fishing license, CPR and first aid training certificate, a state identification or driver license and must not have been convicted of any felony or certain fish and game violations in the past three years, including:
    • Obstructing or interfering in the lawful taking of game or fish (hunter/angler harassment)
    • Unlawful taking of game or fish
    • Illegal transport of carcasses
    • charter boat and livery statute (Part 445)
    • Buying or selling of game or fish
    • Possession or release of invasive species, illegal sturgeon

The Issue

Currently, Michigan law is very lax on regulation of commercial hunting and fishing guides. With a simple set of regulatory guidelines bad actors that put their clients in danger or violate game laws are weeded out. This package of bills would also require commercial guides to provide valuable data to state biologists regarding level of effort and harvest. This data is currently not gathered and would grant invaluable insight to biologists, administrators and commissioners when managing fish and game populations. Other states such as Alaska, Idaho and Maine require an extensive process, including passage of an application exam, a high-fee license, first aid certification and in-depth record keeping for every guide.  

MUCC’s position

This change to commercial guiding in Michigan has long been a priority for MUCC and its members. Going back nearly 25 years, we have seen the need to provide some structure to this industry. While the Michigan legislature, DNR and USCG have provided some regulatory framework, the safety of hunters, anglers and trappers is at stake. The ask is little to ensure baselines are met that will continue Michigan’s rich outdoor heritage. MUCC supports this package of bills as amended and looks forward to working with all stakeholders and the legislature..

Who else is involved?

Numerous statewide and regional hunting, fishing and conservation groups testified in support of the bill package – at this time no organizations have testified publicly in opposition.


  1. Stephen King on January 11, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    The buying or selling of game or fish would exclide Commercial Fishers. Both Tribal and Non-Tribal. You might want to rethink this a bit.

    • Amy Trotter on January 12, 2022 at 3:51 pm

      The reference is to illegal buying and selling. If they are properly licensed commercial operators/wholesalers and within the bounds of their permits/license, then that is not a violation of law and they would be allowed to become a licensed guide.

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