Groups praise Oliver as likely NMFS assistant admin

Pacific Seafood, fishing organizations and other groups, praised the likely appointment of Chris Oliver, executive director of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, as the next assistant administrator for Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.

Oliver, who was championed for the position by major U.S. seafood processors and organizations, confirmed the appointment in an email to SeafoodSource, which was also sent to his staff members.

“I have been contacted by the Department of Commerce, offered the position, and have accepted the position, with a tentative start date of June 19,” Oliver wrote.

However, Oliver stressed that the appointment is not final yet, since it is still subject to the White House vetting and approval process. 

“I, and Commerce, would have preferred to keep this information close hold until the full appointment process is indeed finalized; but, given the timing involved, and the necessary transitional aspects involved, I feel it is incumbent upon me to let everyone know the status of this,” he said.

Oliver has served as the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years. Prior to serving as executive director, Oliver also worked as the deputy director of the council and as Gulf of Alaska Fishery Management Plan Coordinator.

Since January, Pacific Seafoods, American Seafoods Company, other processors, and several fishing groups, have pushed for Oliver’s appointment. Other candidates for the job included LaDon Swann with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Robert Barham, who previously served as wildlife and fisheries secretary in Louisiana.

“It was unprecedented to see more than 50 commercial fishing associations from every region of the country come together to support Chris Oliver,” Daniel C. Occhipinti, general counsel and director of government affairs for Pacific Seafood, told SeafoodSource. “America has the best fishermen, the best processors, and tremendous sustainable fishery resources with incredible potential. We are all crossing our fingers that his nomination is approved.”

More than 50 letters of support for Oliver were sent to President Donald Trump’s transition team from the National Coalition for Fishing Communities, which represents seafood companies, trade associations such as the National Fisheries Institute and the Freezer Longline Coalition, and conservation groups.

“The support for Chris began with some of his ardent supporters in the Northwest. When they reached out to us at Saving Seafood, we reached out to our members and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” Robert Vanasse, executive director of Saving Seafood and the National Coalition for Fishing Communities, told SeafoodSource.

“The vetting process can take some time. Everyone is hoping that it works out well,” Vanasse added.

Oliver supports easing regulatory burdens and decentralized fisheries management, the coalition said in its January letter.


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