New national fisheries manager named at NOAA

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Chris Oliver has been appointed to manage national fisheries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

For the past 27 years Oliver worked at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, first as a fisheries biologist, and since 2002 as executive director. In that post he served as lead staff for legislative and international issues, in addition to being responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the council process.

His new title is assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries.

Given his experience, Oliver is well versed in the Magnuson-Stevens Act — the law that manages fish stocks and allotments in federally managed saltwater areas — which recreational fishing and boating stakeholders seek to change with the Modern Fish Act, said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“In our view, Chris Oliver knows Magnuson, he understands Magnuson and he’ll be a fair administrator at the National Marine Fisheries Service,” Dammrich told Trade Only Today.

Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers said the group is anxious to work with Oliver to help public resources remain public.

“Coastal communities, manufacturers in the heartland and 11 million individual saltwater recreational anglers are depending on him to lead the agency in a way that is transparent and that fosters better public access, consistent and fair fishing regulations and healthy natural marine resources available for future generations,” Angers said in a statement.

“We are hopeful that when filling the regional fishery management councils, Mr. Oliver will guide explicit balance of interests in their composition,” Angers said. “His attention is greatly needed in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. More than half of all saltwater fishing trips in the U.S. take place in the Southeast, and most of these trips are taken by private anglers on privately owned boats, rather than charter boats.”

There are nearly twice as many jobs supported in that region by recreational fishing — 165,118 — versus commercial — 93,916, Angers said, citing FEUS 2015.

“Despite these facts only three of the 34 seats combined on the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils are currently held by private recreational anglers representing themselves,” Angers said.

“We are hopeful Mr. Oliver will work with the Congress and recreational fishing stakeholders to advance the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017,” Angers said. “The Modern Fish Act will bring parity to recreational and commercial fishing by making critical changes to federal fisheries laws that were never designed to manage recreational fishing.”

“I understand how important stakeholder involvement, transparency and best available science are to making the right policy decisions, and I plan to ensure those tenets of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are applied across the board while I am leading the agency,” said Oliver in a statement.

“I intend to rely heavily upon the regional expertise of the eight fishery management councils and the associated NOAA Fisheries regions and science centers, and to ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively tackle region-specific issues.”

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