Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Agency overview
Formed 1959
Preceding agencies
  • Alaska Territorial Department of Fish and Game
  • Fish and Game Commission
  • Fisheries Experimental Commission
Headquarters 1255 W 8th St, Juneau, Alaska
Agency executive
  • Sam Cotton, Commissioner

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is a department within the government of Alaska. ADF&G's mission is to protect, maintain, and improve the fish, game, and aquatic plant resources of the state, and manage their use and development in the best interest of the economy and the well-being of the people of the state, consistent with the sustained yield principle.[1] ADF&G manages approximately 750 active fisheries, 26 game management units, and 32 special areas. Their operating budget is approximately $200 million annually. The department works to foster the highest standards of scientific integrity and promote innovative sustainable fish and wildlife management programs to optimize public uses and economic benefits. From making policy and management decisions to providing education and outreach programs, interacting with and involving the public is considered as being vital to their mission and goals.[2]


Alaska became a state on January 3, 1959, and Governor William Egan named C.L. "Andy" Anderson as the first Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

In 1949, the Territorial Legislature created the Alaska Territorial Fishery Service in an attempt to influence federal management practices that had decimated salmon populations in Alaska. The Territorial Fishery Service had no authority, but they commented on federal regulations, conducted research, and tried to influence the federal managers.

In 1957, in anticipation of statehood, the Territorial legislature expanded and renamed the Alaska Fishery Service to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. C.L. "Andy" Anderson had been director of the Territorial Fishery Service since 1949 and continued as director for the new organization. Andy hired Jim Brooks to organize the Game Division, Walter Kirkness to organize the Division of Commercial Fisheries and Ed Marvich to develop a Sport Fish Division. These four men began to hire staff in 1958 and decide how the department would be organized.

In 1959, the first state legislature established the Department of Fish and Game. However, full authority could not be granted until January 1, 1960, when the regulations and statutes were in place. They gave the commissioner great authority to manage the fish and game resources. Alaska Statute 16.05.020 stated the commissioner shall: (1) supervise and control the department and may employ division heads, enforcement agents, and the technical, clerical and other assistants necessary for the general administration of the department; (2) manage, protect, maintain, improve, and extend the fish, game and aquatic plant resources of the state in the interests of the economy and general well-being of the state; and (3) have necessary power to accomplish the foregoing including, but not limited to, the power to delegate authority to subordinate officers and employees of the department. [3]

Board of Game[edit]

Hunting regulations enforced by ADF&G are established by the Alaska Board of Game, a seven-member panel appointed by the governor.[4] The Board of Game is the state's regulatory authority that establishes regulations to conserve and develop Alaska's wildlife resources. The Board of Game is also charged with making allocative decisions between a variety of user groups, types of uses, and values related Alaska's wildlife. The board has seven members, each appointed by the governor for a three-year term. Each member must be confirmed by a joint session of the state legislature. The Alaska Board of Game processes are often described as being among the most open and democratic wildlife management processes in the world. An individual has opportunity to suggest changes to regulations through an open proposal process that is afforded opportunity to be further supported by written comment, oral testimony before the board, and participation in local advisory committees. [5]

Game Management Units[edit]

Alaska Game Management Units are geographical subdivisions created to allow both residents and visitors to Alaska fair and equal hunting rights in all regions of the state.

The ADF&G established 26 Game Management Units to effectively manage and control hunting and other wildlife uses in Alaska. Legal regulations govern each unit. Regulations are therefore primarily made at the unit and sub-unit level rather than governing the entire state, recognizing its vast and highly variable ecosystems. These regulations establish, for example, seasons and bag limits and methods and means for the harvest of wildlife.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]