New Fish & Game commissioner looks to connect with public
May 17th, 2011 | Dimitra Lavrakas
Alaska Newspapers caught up with newly minted Alaska Fish & Game Commissioner Cora Campbell to ask her a few questions. Formerly Gov. Sean Parnell's fisheries adviser, she was appointed acting commissioner in December. She also dealt with wildlife, environmental conservation, natural resources, Arctic issues and climate change.
She grew up in Petersburg and fished commercially for salmon, herring and crab. On the North Pacific Research Board and the North Pacific Advisory Council, she served on advisory panels. Campbell has a degree in education from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.
Initially, her nomination was controversial due to her age, 31, and perceived lack of experience. But in April she won support from the Alaska Federation of Natives, the United Fisherman of Alaska and the Alaska Native Brotherhood that did not support her at first, and was approved by the House and Senate.
Q: Congratulations on being confirmed as commissioner. You faced a lot of resistance when your name was first floated. What do you attribute to the turnaround?
A: I believe much of the resistance you mention was primarily skepticism that may have largely been driven by surprise at a rather unconventional choice or by unfamiliarity with my background and perspectives. In many cases, that changed after Alaskans had a chance to get to know me better and learn the viewpoint that I bring to the job and the goals I have for the department.
Q: What are your goals for F&G?
A: We have developed several goals for the department. ADF&G is focusing more effort on outreach and dialogue to increase public engagement in ADF&G programs. In the current environment, resolving some of the outstanding issues with our federal counterparts will require significant effort as federal presence in Alaska continues to expand. Internally, we will be working to ensure alignment between ADF&G's research programs and management goals. For resources important to subsistence, personal use and sport harvesters, we will focus on actively managing resources for abundance and providing increased opportunity. For species with commercial applications, we will be focusing on promoting responsible economic development of species not utilized to their full potential. In addition, we have chosen to emphasize ADF&G's education and heritage programs and work to fully integrate those programs as core activities in all divisions.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges the department faces in the coming year that you'll have to deal with?
A: As I mentioned, resolving the federal issues we face will require significant time and resources. Some areas of the state struggle with low abundance of fish and wildlife populations important for human harvest, and the department will focus efforts on managing resources that Alaskans depend on. We will continue to concentrate on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process, as the federal fishery management decisions affect state managed fisheries and the economies of Alaska's coastal communities.
Q: Because your personal experience encompasses commercial and personal fishing, what perspective do you think you bring to the job?
A: Because I have been employed both as a fishermen and policy-maker, I likely bring a slightly different perspective to fisheries issues than someone whose background is primarily as a manager or regulator. My focus is largely practical and focused on projects that bring measurable results to Alaskans.