Phil Anderson becomes fish and wildlife chief

I’d like to offer my personal congratulations to Phil Anderson, who was appointed yesterday as the permanent director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

<i>Phil Anderson</i>
Phil Anderson

Phil has been acting as interim director since Jeff Koenings left the job in December.

I’ve known Phil since about 1992, when I began covering the annual meetings of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which establishes fishing seasons for the Pacific Northwest.

Phil had been running a commercial charterboat business out of Westport and was very knowledgeable about harvest levels and the need to protect salmon. I believe he was chairman of the PFMC when I first met him.

In 1994, he took a job with WDFW and led the annual negotiations that establish allocations between tribal and nontribal fishers, as well as among various non-Indian fishing groups.

I recall numerous times when he stood in front of tough fishing groups and skeptical tribal representatives and explained calmly how answers would come if people followed the science and kept working together.

Phil has always been willing to explain complex management issues to me, and I’m grateful for that.

Even when he finds himself under fire — as he did recently in dealing with the proposed Lake Tahuyeh boat launch and human waste on the Skokomish River — Anderson does not shy away from tough questions and takes responsibility for departmental actions. It’s a pleasure to interview leaders like that.

So I wish him well in his new job, which seems to be one of the hottest seats in state government. Pleasing all the fish and wildlife interests and the Legislature is impossible, almost by definition, but Phil has a rare quality of juggling many concerns at once and trying to come up with fair solutions.

For more details about his background, comments from the Fish and Wildlife Commission and job issues, check out the commission’s news release. See also a story today by Jeffrey P. Mayor in The News Tribune.

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