NOAA's John Bullard announces January retirement

Published on
July 13, 2017

NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator John Bullard, a former mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who joined NOAA in 2012, announced he will retire on 5 January, 2018. 

In his position as regional administrator, Bullard worked with the New England and the Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to manage 44 fish stocks, including the lucrative scallops and lobster fisheries.

NOAA said in its announcement that Bullard “will leave a legacy of improved relationships with the regulated community, the research community, environmentalists, local, state, and federal officials and agency partners.”

“Bullard aprovided a much-needed conduit helping the regulated communities understand the critical role of science in informing management decisions,” Sam Rauch, NOAA Fisheries Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, said. “As the former Mayor of New Bedford, John brought with him a unique connection to the fishing industry, and used that connection to improve communication with all aspects of the industry and Congress during a very challenging period for the agency.”

In his tenure, Bullard was in the center of controversial decisions to impose quotas and emergency closures on some New England groundfish fisheries, and to approve protection of 24 million acres of ocean areas containing deep-sea corals and canyons. Bullard also led the charge to modernize access and sharing of fishery dependent data, including pushing electronic monitoring pilot projects on fishing vessels, according to NOAA.

 “I know how difficult these issues are, and I tried to tackle them with courage and compassion,” Bullard said in the announcement.

Chris Moore, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, praised Bullard’s leadership.

“Throughout his tenure as regional administrator, John has been an engaged and dedicated participant in the council process, and he has played an important role in increasing focus on the Mid-Atlantic portion of the Greater Atlantic Region,” Moore said. “His insight and leadership have been especially valuable to the Mid-Atlantic Council during the development of several new initiatives such as the Deep Sea Corals Amendment, the Unmanaged Forage Fish Amendment, and the development of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.”

NOAA said it will launch a search for Bullard’s replacement within the next several months, but that he would continue to serve in his current role through January.

“There is work left to do before I leave – very important work,” Bullard said. “Still on my list are the Omnibus Habitat Amendment, the New England Council’s Deep Sea Coral Amendment, some critical dam removals, electronic monitoring, the Carlos Rafael situation, the summer flounder crisis, and the continuing groundfish challenge, among others.”

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