Michael Rubino takes on new role as NOAA Fisheries’ senior advisor for seafood strategy

Published on
April 30, 2019

Dr. Michael Rubino has been appointed as the new senior advisor for seafood strategy at NOAA Fisheries, the agency announced on 29 April. 

Rubino, who has served as the director of the Office of Aquaculture at NOAA Fisheries since 2011, will be in charge of leading the development of markets for U.S. fisheries products and oversee the expansion of new domestic aquaculture production in his new role. With a plethora of experience in seafood production and the science behind it, Rubino is an ideal fit for the new expanded position, according to NOAA Fisheries. 

“We are thrilled that Michael is stepping into this new, expanded role,” Dr. Paul Doremus, the deputy assistant administrator for operations at NOAA Fisheries, said in a press release. “He has a wealth of experience leveraging partnerships across the seafood spectrum and will now play an even bigger role in the expansion of U.S. seafood production, economic growth, and new jobs.”

There will be two major responsibilities in store for Rubino as NOAA Fisheries’ new senior advisor for seafood strategy: First being to expand U.S. aquaculture production by forming partnerships with seafood companies, fishermen, seafood famers, scientists, government agencies, tribes, and others to support the adoption of sustainable aquaculture practices nationally; and secondly, helping to develop new markets for U.S. wild-capture fisheries, the agency said. To help fulfill these core responsibilities, Rubino will work closely with the Office of Aquaculture as it continues to lead the NOAA Fisheries’ work on aquaculture, and the Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, as it continues to focus on market access and international trade. 

“As Senior Advisor, Michael will communicate and collaborate with industry leaders, investors, state and federal agencies, tribes, foundations, Sea Grant universities, nonprofits, and the public to develop and expand new aquaculture production,” said Doremus. “He will also identify market opportunities for U.S. fishery products with an emphasis on economic returns on investment and synergies between domestic wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture. With this appointment NOAA Fisheries has positioned itself to more fully engage in every aspect of the value chain for U.S. seafood and aquaculture.”

The private sector and research community within NOAA and elsewhere will also be working with Rubino in his new capacity as a means to “to foster innovative aquaculture science and technology development that can provide economic or ecological value” for the United States, the agency added. Moreover, Rubino will be collaborating with U.S. domestic commercial and wild-capture fishing corporations to evaluate what products and services they need from the government in order to increase their contribution to the economy. He’s also expected to join forces with other federal agencies, coastal communities, states, tribes, the aquaculture industry, non-governmental organizations, Sea Grant, the councils and commissions, and other partners and stakeholders “to transition innovative aquaculture technologies and to document and assess their environmental, ecosystem, and socioeconomic impacts,” according to NOAA.

"It is an honor to be selected for this new position," Rubino said of his new appointment. "For many years, I've had the great privilege of working alongside seafood farmers, fishermen, scientists, state and federal agency staff, tribes and others to advance science and build partnerships that support America's robust seafood industries. I look forward to continuing this work, and collaborating across agency lines to bolster opportunities for sustainable, home-grown seafood options." 

His existing work with NOAA Fisheries as its director of the Office of Aquaculture has seen Rubino develop a series of critical aquaculture regulations for federal and state waters as well as establish the National Shellfish Initiative and the USDA-NOAA Alternative Feeds Initiative. He was also largely to thank for refreshing the NOAA and Department of Commerce aquaculture policies and developing new science tools for aquaculture management.

Before joining NOAA, Rubino – who holds a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Michigan –  served as the head of development of international agribusiness, environmental, and renewable energy investment funds at the World Bank. He also co-founded an aquaculture R&D company with operations in South Carolina and the Caribbean and was a partner in a shrimp farm in South Carolina before his time with the World Bank and NOAA. 

NOAA Fisheries is in the process of finding a permanent replacement for Rubino’s previous role of director for its Office of Aquaculture, it said. While the search is underway, David O’Brien will serve as acting director, the agency confirmed. 

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