After 15 years of working as a management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Charlie Trowbridge has retired. Family, friends and fellow musicians celebrated with him on Saturday night, with the guest of honor also playing a few tunes. But music is just one of the many interests that will likely keep Trowbridge busier than ever now that he’s changed course.
Trowbridge took on the job of Fish and Game’s shellfish and ground fish management biologist for Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound in 1997, and that’s when, while working as a fisheries reporter out of Kodiak, I first met Trowbridge – by phone that is.
He was always friendly, upbeat and eager to talk fish. His first exposure was as a technician for the department when he was hired to work at the Miles Lake sonar on the lower Copper River. But most of his work in that region was with shellfish.
Trowbridge grew up in Texas and first attended college there, later studying in Fairbanks. He says aside from enjoying Alaska he liked working for the department and with shellfish in particular.
“When I started 1981, we had already started to see declines in King crab and by 1984 king crab was closed pretty much coast wide in this portion of the Northeast Pacific, so there was a lot of work to be done, and that excited me,” he said.
I always thought of Trowbridge as the go-to guy for information on Pacific cod fisheries. Specific state waters cod fisheries for pot and jig boats were established by the Fish Board in 1996, right around the time he began working in Homer.
Trowbridge says fishermen were frustrated over the way cod was being managed on the federal level, “because the federal fishery which would open would then close before the fish really got to the Cook Inlet or Prince William Sound areas.”
As a musician, Trowbridge says he enjoys the active arts community here as well as the great cross country skiing. Trowbridge is pretty sure there won’t be much spare time now that he’s retired. He adds that with kids to put through college and a mortgage, his working days are not over, but he’s ready to pass on the torch.
Trowbridge praises the staff members he’s worked with over the years and says there are many competent people in the fisheries management realm.