By Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
When the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission was searching for a new director about six years ago, chair Miranda Wecker said they were looking for a director with a strong conservation ethic, sound fiscal-management and leadership skills and expertise in intergovernmental relations.
They got all of that and much, much more when they selected Phil Anderson to lead the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The treaty Indian tribes in western Washington are both sad and happy to learn that he will be stepping down at the end of the year.
We are sad because we are losing a top-notch director, a champion for fish and wildlife who guided the department through some of the most difficult challenges it has faced. We are glad because Phil will get a chance to rest, hunt, fish, and spend some well-deserved time with his family. We are encouraged to hear him say that after leaving his current position he will look for other opportunities to further contribute to resource conservation and management. We wish Phil and his family all the best for the future.
Phil is an experienced, knowledgeable and talented director. A former charter boat operator, he has played a leading role in fish and wildlife management in Washington and the Pacific Northwest over the past two decades. From serving on the Pacific Fishery Management Council to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the U.S./Canada Pacific Salmon Commission, Phil has been a tireless advocate for sound fisheries management.
The tribes got to know Phil best through the North of Falcon process. This is the annual forum where state and tribal co-managers develop salmon fishing seasons for marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington Coast.
Phil is a tough, but fair negotiator. We have not always agreed, but we have always appreciated the integrity, honesty and willingness to work together that Phil brought to the table. Perhaps most importantly, he always comes to meetings looking for solutions.
One of the reasons for Phil’s effectiveness as WDFW director is that he has shown respect for the tribes as co-managers. He understands that tribes are sovereign governments with treaty-reserved fishing, hunting and gathering rights. But for all of his qualities, it is his ability to truly listen and be responsive to concerns being expressed by others that set him apart from many who have occupied the director’s chair.
We hope that the same respect, understanding, responsiveness and ability to truly listen that Phil has shown the treaty tribes will also be among the qualities of whomever the Fish and Wildlife Commission chooses as his replacement.