Jacobs now leading NOAA as Gallaudet focuses on Blue Economy initiative

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has made a change in leadership for the agency that oversees NOAA Fisheries.

In a memo dated 25 February, Neil Jacobs told NOAA employees that Ross assigned him to the “nonexclusive” role of undersecretary and NOAA Administrator. He replaces retired Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, who had served as the agency’s acting administrator.

The switch will not change NOAA’s mission or priorities, Jacobs said.

“This is a natural shift that occurs in agencies and departments over time,” a NOAA spokesperson told SeafoodSource in a prepared statement. “Both leaders are dedicated professionals who believe in the people, science, and missions at NOAA. The agency’s important work on behalf of the American people and businesses will occur seamlessly into the future.”

Jacobs said Gallaudet continues in his position as the assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere in the Commerce Department. In this position, Gallaudet will work on the department’s Blue Economy initiative, which is looking to bolster how the U.S. can better leverage the resources in the world’s second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone.

One of the priorities for the Blue Economy initiative is to examine how the U.S. can increase the amount of seafood America produces. Currently, America imports roughly 90 percent of the fish and shellfish consumed annually. The initiative also calls for surveying for oil and gas exploration.

“Admiral Gallaudet is a natural-born leader, and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to work with him and learn from him over the last year,” Jacobs said. “I consider myself fortunate to have a leadership team with such a diverse range of talent, skills, and knowledge, and they will continue to work on the priorities as previously outlined.”

According to his NOAA bio, Jacobs, who has a doctorate in atmospheric science from North Carolina State University, previously worked as the chief atmospheric scientist for Panasonic Avionics. There, he directed an aviation weather observing platform and forecast model programs.

Barry Myers, President Trump’s pick to head NOAA, has seen his nomination stalled in the Senate. Trump announced the appointment in October 2017, but the Senate has yet to confirm the former AccuWeather CEO.

In January, Myers stepped down from the company his brother founded in 1962 and divested himself of any holdings in the company. Despite that, one lawmaker has asked the president to pull the nomination, citing a settlement AccuWeather reached with the Department of Labor over sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims. 


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