Fish and Game appointees must be based on science – ADN LTE

Letter to the editor, Alaska Dispatch News, December 11th, 2014

by Vic Van Ballenberghe

Stephen Stringham’s recent column (ADN, Tuesday) highlighted the need for a well-qualified Department of Fish and Game commissioner who could ensure science-based management of Alaska’s precious fish and game resources. But well-qualified deputy commissioners and division directors are essential too, as are competent fish and game board appointees.

As Stringham correctly states, recent high level fish and game appointees have lacked the necessary qualifications to meet the challenge of curbing politically grounded management decisions that trump sound science. During the past three administrations, fish and game appointees at all levels were chosen mainly for their political loyalties with predictable results—unprecedented levels of poorly grounded management programs.

We need to return to management processes that have a biological basis. The first step is to conduct a widespread search for the best commissioner candidates available, to have the fish and game boards interview them, and for the boards to submit names to the governor. The commissioner must then appoint deputies and directors who can do the job. And the governor must search for good board members. We deserve better management of our fish and game resources than we’ve had during the past 12 years and the Walker administration can provide it with the right appointees.