Back again in Juneau, biologist seeks abler fisheries commission

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005

Denby Lloyd calls Kodiak Island home, but his work as a fisheries biologist keeps propelling him back to Juneau.

It is the fourth time in his life that Lloyd has taken a Juneau job.

Lloyd started work two weeks ago as chief of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commercial Fisheries Division from Kodiak and he will arrive in Juneau on Sept. 26.

Though reluctant to leave the island, "I'm excited to go back and experience the things that I overlooked when I was (in Juneau) before," Lloyd said in a recent interview.

Lloyd - who at one time in his career studied kittiwakes and murres on the Pribilof Islands and in northern Bristol Bay - hopes to bring a sense of adventure to his Juneau post. "I think the department needs some more fun and excitement," he said.

It's the second time that Lloyd - who previously served the state in both Democratic and Republican administrations - has been tapped as Commercial Fisheries Division director for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He also held the job from 1990 to 1992.

Also in his career, Lloyd was a special assistant on natural resources to former Gov. Steve Cowper, a Democrat. This time he will serve Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski.

"Politics didn't even enter the (current job) discussions," Lloyd said.

The department has had some setbacks since he left Juneau, however.

For one thing, it has suffered significant spending cuts. The department's budget has been eroding for many years.

"I think the spending power of the commercial division is at a level it was in the 1970s," Lloyd said. The 2005 fiscal year budget is $28.3 million.

The commercial fisheries budget is about $800,000 less than it was in 1979, when taking inflation into account, according to the division's own calculations.

"The division budget was growing until we got into the mid-1980s and it has decreased since in buying power," said John Clark, chief scientist for commercial fisheries.

Recent spending cuts have closed fish weir and smolt monitoring programs around the state.

"We'd certainly like to reinstate a number of those projects," Lloyd said.

The reduction in spending power is also making it difficult for Fish and Game biologists to keep up with technological advances in their field, he said.

"There's an expectation that we keep up with modern technology. But unless we get the money to do it, we can't," Lloyd said.

Some pioneering research now underway by university scientist in the oceans could help Fish and Game biologists better understand the environmental influences on salmon, he said.

"We need to develop a better understanding of the feeding and survival of salmon in the ocean," Lloyd said.

But it's prohibitively expensive for Fish and Game to study the ocean.

Instead, the department is delving into new technologies for genetic stock identification that will improve fish tracking and counting, Lloyd said.

Some commercial fishing interests who monitor the staff changes at Fish and Game are pleased with Lloyd's appointment because of his science background.

"He's highly respected among commercial fishermen in Alaska," said Mark Vinsel, executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska, citing Lloyd's strong science background as the key reason.

"With his extensive commercial fisheries background, knowledge of technical and regulatory issues and experience working for state and local government, Denby has been a real asset to the Commercial Fisheries Division," Fish and Game Commissioner McKie Campbell said in a prepared statement.

Llyod holds a master's degree in biological oceanography and a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

His new position opened earlier this month when Doug Mecum retired and accepted a job with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

• Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at

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