ANCHORAGE - Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Kevin Duffy said Thursday he is retiring at the end of the year and moving on to the private sector.
Duffy, who joined the Department of Fish and Game in 1981, said he is leaving to accept a job as executive director of the At-Sea Processors Association, an industry group representing seven companies that own and operate factory trawlers that process pollock in Bering Sea. His departure is effective Dec. 31.
"I have enjoyed my 24-year tenure with the Department of Fish and Game and I will miss the professional staff that manage fish and game resources in the state of Alaska," Duffy said. "I will continue to maintain a presence in Alaska."
Duffy will move to Seattle, where the association is based, but said he plans to spend a lot of time at the group's Anchorage office, as well as in Juneau and Washington, D.C.
The association approached Duffy for the job and he was interested, according to spokesman Jim Gilmore.
"He was recognized from the start as being a quality addition here," Gilmore said. "The agency he runs has a spotless record in fisheries management and fisheries conservation. He's intelligent, articulate and has great integrity."
Duffy was appointed commissioner by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski in March 2003 after serving as acting commissioner. He also served as deputy commissioner under former Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat.
"The Fish and Game commissioner deals with many contentious issues and yet Kevin has forged a reputation as a consensus builder who has worked hard to balance the needs of all stakeholders," the governor said.
Murkowski credited Duffy with coming up with a predator control program "to improve the health of moose and caribou populations," helping revitalize the salmon industry by increasing harvest opportunities and increasing access to lands for hunting and fishing.