Meet ADFG’s New Deputy Commissioner



Apologies for not getting this out sooner, but press deadlines have been a challenge this month. Alaska Department of Fish and Game last weeknamed Charles Swanton as its new deputy commissioner.

Here’s ADFG’s release:

Acting Commissioner Sam Cotten is pleased to announce the appointment of Charles O. Swanton as Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Swanton has been Director of the Division of Sport Fish since 2007. Governor Walker has also nominated Mr. Swanton as the State of Alaska’s Commissioner for the Pacific Salmon Commission, which is a presidential appointment.

“Charlie’s professional and educational background, as well as his long history with the department, makes him uniquely qualified for these positions,” Acting Commissioner Cotten said. “He has dedicated nearly his entire 33 year career to the research and management of Alaska’s fisheries and is highly respected throughout the state. I am very pleased to have Charlie serving as our department’s lead on Pacific salmon issues and representing Alaska in other issues of significant importance to the management of our valuable fisheries resources.”

Swanton’s public service career began as a Fisheries Technician for the Division of Commercial Fisheries in 1981. Since 1981, Swanton has held key research and management positions in geographic areas that span the state.

In 2010, Swanton completed his residency as a Fellow of the highly selective National Conservation Leadership Institute, a world-class leadership development program. Swanton also received the 2012 University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumni Achievement Award for Business and Professional Excellence.

Swanton earned Bachelor of Science degrees in biology in 1983 and in fisheries science in 1984 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Master of Science degree in fisheries with an emphasis in salmon population dynamics and statistics from the University of Washington, Fisheries Research Institute.

Swanton has been an Alaska resident for more than 34 years. He and his wife, Deborah, have two sons, and they reside in Juneau.

Deputy Director Thomas Brookover has been named as Acting Director of Sport Fish Division.


As for the status of interim commissioner Sam Cotten, an Alaska Journal of Commerce report stated he’s closing in being appointed to permanent status on the job:

Cotten passed the initial interview recommendation with a unanimous vote. He had broad support from both boards for his breadth of experience in Alaska public management as well as his track record as acting commissioner over the last six weeks.

The interim commissioner outlined his priorities and plans during the interview process. The two most pressing concerns for Alaska fish and wildlife involve Alaska’s shriveled budget and to improve the department’s ability to function alongside federal agencies and agendas.

The most common points involved focusing on a science-based rather than economic-based approach to resource management, a desire to have more public involvement within the department’s decision-making process, and a need to find new ways to cooperate with the U.S. government for subsistence governance.

Cotten says the science and conservation measures, when necessary, should trump commercial concerns, as in the case of declining chinook salmon runs or the issues regarding commercial halibut fishing. Cooperation with the federal government will be key for resource management, and Cotten made mention of the availability to the ADFG of federal funds as a softener for Alaska budget cuts. He also hopes to find ways to mitigate the dual management of Alaska subsistence communities, a system that receives scrutiny for its conflicting interests and methods.