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ADF&G's Campbell: The Betrayer

March 16th, 2006
"We all know individuals who make their lives the exact realization of what they are afraid of." Groundswell would ask McKie Campbell to carefully reflect on those words of Waldo Frank's book, The Re-Discovery of America. Read on, as we bring you another public voice speaking truth to power.


By Victor Smith, September 2005, published in Fishermen's News's 'From the Fleet,' as part 2 of an earlier piece. Reprinted because of McKie Campbell's guest opinion in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on March 15 that warned the public to avoid any criticism of his background and intentions, before Campbell speaks on Friday, March 17 at ComFish.

As if it was so easy to paint anyone who would reveal the truth ahead of time with the off-color brush of 'character assassination.' Vic is not backing down, and neither will Kodiak.

Politics Dominate ADF&G Policy:

Corporations increasingly foist politicized science on the public as legitimate fishery policy. Whether they get away with it depends upon the vigilance or failure of our fleet associations. For an example, just consider McKie Campbell's appointment as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, by Governor Frank Murkowski.

Managing some of the largest fish and wildlife resources left on the planet carries tremendous responsibility and requires equal parts of expertise and integrity toward a healthy ecosystem and the public. Yet the chain of shrewd misrepresentations and how a slew of gatekeepers were used to place him in the job is a tip-off that Campbell doesn't have a sufficient mix of those qualities.

Instead, a decade long record shows Campbell has been a leader in the subversion of environmental protections for fish. Key fleet association leaders neglected to inform members of his primary background as an influential consultant to the mining industry, as they also watched habitat protections being stripped in preparation for his reign. Now, absent integrity in public policy, mining activities will severely conflict with the needs of fish and public rights. And the aquaculture steamroller is underway, too.

Associations Provided Political Cover:

Southeast Alaska Seiners Association's (SEAS) June newsletter, Brailer Scoop, heaped uncalled-for delight over what should have been a strongly questioned appointment. SEAS was, " this important juncture of our collective history. to have a man of Campbell's caliber at the helm of ADF&G.. Rob Zuanich, Executive Director of Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA), and a close affiliate and lifetime member of SEAS, [and United fishermen of Alaska (UFA)] recorded a statewide television talk show with the commissioner immediately after his appointment. Mr. Zuanich had this to say about our future with the new commissioner: 'Alaskan fishermen are solidly behind McKie Campbell's leadership as commissioner of ADF&G.'"

Others claimed Campbell's appointment would restore trust in the department. But trust in our associations had seriously eroded years ago when the new President of UFA, Bobby Thorstenson (a major stockholder in Icicle Seafoods) capriciously threw fishermen's support behind Frank Murkowski. This clinched years of scheming by fish processors to join with oil, mining, and timber interests to place Murkowski in the Governor's chair in order to loosen regulations interfering with resource extraction plans. And aquaculture.

Habitat Protections Were Removed:

With Executive Order 107, Murkowski immediately eliminated the Habitat Division of ADF&G and stripped the-buck-stops-here authority for protection of fisheries resources from the department that had appropriately wielded it since statehood.

The move coincided with interests to develop several mines that were in uniquely rich fish habitat areas like Lake Iliamna in Bristol Bay, home to one of the biggest sockeye salmon runs in the world. Was it any surprise that mining's resurgence also coincided with corporate moves to acquire fishing resource rights?

But in an obviously rehearsed response, Thorstenson's quick defense of EO-107 revealed that several association leaders anticipated the order. Their strident support (along with gag-orders imposed on Department personnel) allowed Murkowski's then interim director of ADF&G, Kevin Duffy, to sign off on EO-107 unopposed by the fishing industry.

Despite obvious harms of the Habitat move, UFA, SEAS, and PSVOA executives then backed Duffy for Commissioner, underscoring the likelihood of backdoor deals made in advance. Duffy dismissingly said, "We shouldn't look back." Of course not, their idea of unregulated development was running full steam ahead.

Musical Chairs Kept Fleet Interests at Bay:

Duffy already had a major strike against him as fishermen's choice for Commissioner. He'd cast one of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council's (NPFMC) unanimous votes in June 2002. That laid the groundwork for transferring public ownership of crab resources to a few corporations.

Crab Rationalization was Senator Ted Stevens and NOAA's federal plan, and the new ADF&G Commissioner soon endorsed the plan to Congress on behalf of the State of Alaska. The crab scheme reduced once independent fishermen to the status of sharecroppers compelled to sell their catch to those few designated processors, in perpetuity another reason why fleets should never have supported Duffy.

One of Thorstenson and Zuanich's most trusted collaborators was Dave Bedford, then Executive Director of SEAS. Bedford took charge of manipulating fishermen's support to boost Duffy into the Commissioner's seat on the shallow claim he'd give fishermen good access to the governor. Wouldn't any ADF&G chief have that?

Upon being named Commissioner, Duffy quickly made Bedford his deputy; and Thorstenson, already president of UFA, seized leadership of SEAS.

Instead of representing the fleets' best interests, Bedford and Thorstenson pooh-poohed Duffy's council vote, claiming it only affected a few crab fishermen. They were clearly double-dealing for personal gain because subsequent revelations showed Duffy's supporters knew that he took the helm in rigging the unanimous Council vote. I reported the details in The Ruinous Years in the June 2004 issue of Fishermen's News.

It's increasingly clear that the "rationalization" framework is intended as the resource reallocation model for all U.S. fisheries, and it will detrimentally affect even the few fisheries that might escape its direct grasp. And all it took was a little 'musical chairs' by well-placed turncoats in fishermen associations to completely marginalize true fleet interests and rights, and loosen regulations.

Mixing Zone Protections Removed:

Specifics of how the Habitat Division move would affect fisheries emerged in August 2004 as the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held hearings for 'streamlining' regulations by repealing 'mixing zones'. The law already allowed critical spawning habitat to be used for mining runoff mixings that raised pollution far beyond levels considered excessive for salmon; but repeal of all protections (i.e. eliminating environmental costs) would save mining corporations millions of dollars in water treatment costs.

That would increase toxic chemical effects and reduce fish run sizes, or worse. So why wasn't the entire fishing industry - including processors opposing it?

The DEC preposterously claimed the proposal hadn't been called for by any industry group, or by any member of Murkowski's staff. And the new framework was widely presumed to apply to a broad range of development proposals: oil exploration in ANWR and offshore in Bristol Bay, logging in the Tongass National Forest, and siting of fish farms.

Only in this light is the complicity in rolling back fisheries protections explainable and able to be seen for what it really is: those who consider themselves to be 'the fishing industry' were long ago "making their bones" for impunity in the form of a corporate oligarchy already forged and bent on electing Murkowski.

Pristine Image Threatened:

Just as serious as the ecological damage, polluting salmon habitat could destroy the pristine image of Wild Alaskan Salmon, undoing millions of dollars spent on market promotion.

DEC seemed unaware of the market damage that could result from its proposal, and incredibly, ADF&G didn't seem to be concerned about it either. Deputy director Bedford, formerly executive director of SEAS, said he didn't think Commercial Fisheries meaning the stakeholders needed to be drawn into the debate. In fact, there wasn't even going to be a debate.

A memo signed by Commissioner Duffy on August 31, 2004 prohibited any public comments by ADF&G staff, other than formal comments developed jointly with DNR and DEC, in meetings that weren't necessarily going to be open to the public. Duffy replied, "We're not trying to hide anything here." Duffy abruptly resigned in December 2004, and Thorstenson provided exit cover with a UFA news release proclaiming him the best commissioner in Alaskan history.

This left the ADF&G figuratively bound, gagged and ready for the next Commissioner - McKie Campbell the mining consultant PSVOA's Rob Zuanich claimed fishermen are "solidly behind" to have his way with the new 'development' paradigm.

Why has UFA also remained silent on oil exploration proposed in Bristol Bay, and unconditionally endorsed opening ANWR (Exxon is the only member of the Artic Power Consortium pushing for drilling): without insisting for better disaster protections against another Valdez-like spill? Instead Commissioner Campbell, who sits on the Exxon Valdez Spill Council, appears to be leading a charge along with the National Marine Fisheries Service to limit public review and responsibilities to the council and possibly shutting it down. Are they also hanging crepe, setting the political stage for the case's disappointing final act where it's decided holding Exxon accountable to fishermen isn't sound energy policy?

Hardly Hidden Science:

Not trying to hide anything? What about the fact that Campbell isn't just any mining consultant; but one who's been heavily involved in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) mixing zone studies that are if not the actual basis for the proposed new mixing zone changes, eerily similar; and they may have future implications for statewide TDS standards. With his appointment just happening to coincide with final adoption of the new rules and the sign off on them, Campbell's past activities begs the question of which industry his appointment serves.

In April 1998 Campbell had managed a $66,498 grant to establish "a model for how to approach other politically sensitive topics in a low-key scientific manner." Success for the project was defined as "completion of a research design on the effects of TDS on aquatic life in a manner that brought agreement from both industry and regulatory agencies.. Further success will be achieved if we have developed a template for addressing difficult regulatory issues through cooperative scientific effort rather than rancorous political disagreement." And the 1998 grant's stated aim was "establishing regulations for the State that could be implemented and interpreted in a future project." (Alaska Science and Technology Foundation; 1999)

This wasn't Campbell's only involvement in changing mixing zone regulations either. In their fall 1999 newsletter piece titled Red Dog Redux, Trustees for Alaska had reported that, "In September, the state's Alaska Science and Technology Foundation awarded a $442,238 grant to the Alaska Council of Producers (a "nonprofit consortium" of large hard rock mining companies including guess who), DEC, and ADF&G. This grant is for the study of the effects of TDS on aquatic life and for the development of "new" assay techniques to measure these effects. The grant proposal declared that the companies hoped to "produce results useful for both developing scientifically based regulations and allowing environmentally sensitive development of natural resources." McKie Campbell, a consultant and former member of Governor Hickel's administration, will administer the grant."

Clearly it seems the best way to foster agreement from both industry and regulatory agencies and of avoiding "rancorous political disagreement" was determined to be gagging the agencies and staffing them with mining industry representatives posing as public servants, then silencing fishery stakeholders with misinformation.

This isn't real science, and it should come as no surprise that for all the important projects he's been involved in, Campbell only has a BA in Political Science. Is it any coincidence that Campbell was Gov. Wally Hickel's Deputy Chief of Staff when the first attempt to scuttle the Habitat division was made? Only the integrity of an ADF&G Commissioner who threatened to resign persuaded Hickel not to pursue it. That's what Campbell, like Duffy before him, lacks today.

So, thanks to fleet association leaders' misguided support, Campbell announced in May 2005 the hire of a Mariculture Coordinator, "managing the aquatic farm program and coordinating the department's application review process." What aquaculture program and application process? Do you as a marginalized harvester need any more convincing that Murkowski and Stevens' corporate-serving plan is your ruination?

Deliberate Takings:

Why have UFA, SEAS, and PSVOA also thrown fishermen's support behind Alaska State Senator Ben Stevens who tried to ram Gulf of Alaska Rationalization (SB 113) through the Legislature, giving political appointees at ADF&G, the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, and the Board of Fish resource allocation powers greater than allowed by the state constitution? This is only topped by the Machiavellian manner in which Ted has used the regional fishery management councils on the federal side for privatization ('takings') of public resources.

It's so obvious: Ted controls the federal end, and Ben's job is at the state end for 'coordinated rationalization' to allow corporate-owned resources in State waters, too.

It's also apparent that McKie Campbell's appointment was a set up from Murkowski's word 'Go!' His "caliber" is near that of a Saturday night special jammed in fishermen's ribs. The only way he could restore any trust in ADF&G is to resign. And the same goes for misguided fleet 'leaders.' I contacted Rob Zuanich to ask if he was familiar with Campbell's past, and offered him a chance to explain for the record why he backed Campbell. Zuanich said he wouldn't talk to me because I "didn't represent fishermen's interests" like he did. Fine! Zuanich shouldn't be talking to the fleet anyway. Rather, he and his friends, Thorstenson and Bedford, should be talking to a grand jury.

Added 3-20

Dropping the Ratz Axe:

It has long been a premise of Groundswell's -- a lesson taken from a Killing Fields of Kampuchea exhibit that traveled the USA to be viewed in silent witness -- that we must also WITNESS. At ComFish on Friday in Kodiak, apparently several hundred did; and they will never forget what happened right before their own eyes. McKie Campbell -- now known as "the Henchman" of Gulf Ratz -- predictably proceeded to speak with an unrelenting commitment to cronyism and established plans to "rationalize" the Gulf Of Alaska.

Campbell held firm in spite of several hundred public voices challenging him and the State. 98% in the room were opposed (i.e. they said leave us alone, we favor a free market, and do not want price-fixing mechanisms), while there were only three racketeer influencers present who supported the ADF&G's unjust and illegal stance -- each identifiable by their racketeer puzzle edges. Henchman Campbell took the podium and dropped the Ratz Axe with major processors' orders visibly posted on his chopping block, with no objections from Kingpin Frank Murkowski. Why not, it's all that this political appointee -- pitifully short on real world fisheries experience -- knows how to do for a buck. In the modern world, henchmen don't even wear a mask, because they have the governor's credentials tattooed on their political fists.

John Enge was proven correct: "Mr. Campbell, nobody is assassinating your character, you do just fine by yourself, in trying to further the interests of the processors." And like an unrepentant general for Pol Pot, Campbell continued the Murkowski-ADF&G march to destruct Alaska's fishery-dependent communities by privatizing public resources for corporate masters. So much for the Fourteenth Amendment and Democracy.

If the City of Kodiak and Kodiak Island Borough, and all other Gulf communities do not have a clear picture of the conspiracy yet (we believe they do), and can't figure out what to do about it (they've begun to), then the fishermen are doomed. It is the same underlings who stood in support of Campbell who have in significant ways held up the new Task Force from meeting, as well.

It is time to take out ads across this Nation disputing that UFA represents fishermen -- to get your fingerprints off of their axe. You should also warn that the Groundfish Databank and Alaska Draggers are just a few of the other facades constructed to privatize public resources, and do not represent the People or our fishery-dependent communities. They are simply more Pol Pot styled troops, minus bullets, "have lobbyists -- will travel the country."

Smith's publishing of accurate insights into the overall racketeer influencing by the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) and roles of the Knowles and Murkowski Administrations (and their Council 'bishops and rooks') remain critical lessons for all Alaska fishermen about citizen duty and property-rights holder vigilance. We'll post up another Smith piece soon.

Meanwhile, we'd encourage every fisherman and policy-maker to again read UFA's March 2003 endorsement of Kevin Duffy at the web link below. UFA was already praising Duffy -- a.k.a. the Butcher of Habitat -- for his work at the helm of the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Rationalization Plan. This nothing-new-release shamefully praised the Crab Ratz 11-0 Council vote and fingered all Knowles appointees as having deliberately cast rigged votes on this federal council (not obeying procedural due process or listening to public comments with the least consideration). It forms the basis for a lawsuit, even today.

Now, what was that about some new gubernatorial candidates being in Kodiak, without bringing along a list of replacement 'honorable knights' at the ADF&G and the federal fish Council? Groundswell's also interested in whether or not they will appoint an Attorney General that has read and understands the federal and state Constitutions.

We offer our apologies that the buckets of hot tar and sacks of chicken feathers did not arrive in time for ComFish. But it is just as well that the Henchman could fly back to Juneau and report -- hopefully, and appropriately, aboard the governor's criminal transport jet. Besides, the June Council meeting in Kodiak is coming soon enough.

Victor Smith, longtime Alaska fisherman

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