Mckie Campbell is sworn in as the new Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage, Alaska Thursday, March 31, 2005.
AP Photo/Al Grillo
Area fishing groups are taking an optimistic approach to Gov. Frank Murkowski's appointment of McKie Campbell as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Paul Shadura, president of the Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association, said he has never met Campbell, and he's hoping to learn more about the new commissioner in the next couple of weeks. He said he's hopeful of forging a good working relationship with the man directly responsible for making final decisions that will impact set-net fishers' season.
"It's really important for us to have a good relationship with the commissioner," Shadura said.
Because the commissioner can make decisions on whether to grant emergency opening periods for fishers, Shadura said it's important that fishers have a good relationship with the commissioner and said he believes that can happen with Campbell.
"We rely on the commissioner to alleviate any in-seasons situations that might arise," he said. "We're looking forward to a good relationship with him."
Campbell, 54, of Juneau, is a former deputy commissioner of the department under Gov. Wally Hickel. He has an extensive background in legislative and policy work, having served as a legislative committee staff member.
For the past decade he has worked as a private consultant, doing environmental studies for private industry groups, including a number of mining companies.
He has said his top priority will be to secure funding for the department and forge strong relationships between Fish and Game, the Legislature and the public.
Kenai Professional Guides Association President Steve McClure said he's heard nothing but good things about Campbell.
"The guide association is pretty happy with the choice," McClure said. "We're excited about it."
McClure said he's never met Campbell but said he believes he'll be fair to all user groups.
"We hear he's a fair guy both from the sport and commercial sides, and that's all we were really interested in," he said.
Kenai River Sportfishing Association Inc. Executive Director Ricky Gease said Friday that he believes the governor has made a solid choice in Campbell.
"We view it as a positive," Gease said.
Gease said his organization would have been pleased with any of the three finalists forwarded to the governor by a joint committee made up of members of the Alaska Board of Fish and Alaska Board of Game.
"The joint board put three strong candidates forward," he said.
Gease said he's optimistic that Campbell's background as a former deputy commissioner within the department as well as someone with a good understanding of state politics will enable him to be a fair and productive commissioner.
"McKie brings a lot of know-how to be a good leader for the department," Gease said. "His main goals are to restore trust between the public and the department, and I think he'll do a good job of that."
Shadura and Gease said they're hopeful of meeting with Campbell in the near future to discuss issues relevant to Kenai Peninsula sport and commercial fishers.
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