A new regional management biologist has been named to oversee the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Cook Inlet Sport Fish Division.
Tom Vania was named Monday to replace outgoing management biologist Barry Stratton, who was promoted to Cook Inlet regional supervisor.
In a press release issued Monday, Stratton said he was pleased to have Vania moving into his former office.
"Tom brings a well-earned reputation as an outstanding manager, team player and supervisor to the region," Stratton said.
As regional management biologist, Vania will be charged with supervising sport-fish programs and biologists throughout the Cook Inlet region. Through he'll be stationed in Anchorage, Vania also will be responsible for managing Fish and Game offices in Soldotna, Palmer and Homer.
Stratton said his ability to work with a variety of groups makes Vania an ideal fit for Cook Inlet, where fish and politics often are intertwined.
"(Tom) has successfully worked through many contention issues with numerous and varied fishery users and groups and has a solid understanding of the Alaska Board of Fisheries process," Stratton said.
Vania said Tuesday he's still getting acquainted with his new position, and that he's spent most of his first couple of days in the office just getting settled in.
"I'm just getting started, getting things organized. There's a lot of learning process," he said.
One of the major issues Vania will have to deal with almost immediately is management of the early run of Kenai River king salmon. A special meeting of the Board of Fisheries in March is scheduled to take up the issue of how best to manage the fishery, and Vania said he's spent much of his time familiarizing himself with the facts pertinent to the king discussion.
"I've been trying to get caught up on the big issue of the early-run (Kenai) kings," he said. "I'm starting to read a lot about it."
Vania said he actually has been concentrating on Cook Inlet since before he was named regional biologist.
"For the last couple of weeks I've been getting all the (Kenai king) e-mails sent to me," he said. "I hope to be mostly caught up by the (Board of Fisheries) meeting."
A lifelong Alaskan, Vania has held a number of positions within Fish and Game since he began working for the state in 1987. Before taking his current position, he served as the Yukon River summer season area management biologist for the Division of Commercial Fisheries. He holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.
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