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Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Texas Native Brings 3 Decades of Experience Managing Fisheries from the Gulf to the North Pacific 

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.

As the agency’s new Assistant Administrator, Oliver will oversee the management and conservation of recreational and commercial fisheries including some aspects of marine aquaculture, the preservation and maintenance of safe sources of seafood, and the protection of marine mammals, marine protected species, and coastal fisheries habitat within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. He will also manage an agency with a strong presence nationally with 3,200 people in five regional offices, six science centers, and 24 labs and fish stations in 15 states and U.S. territories.

Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Through his long-time participation in the Council Coordination Committee and various international regional fishery management organizations, Oliver gained extensive knowledge of the national and international fisheries issues facing the agency.

Originally from Rockport, Texas, Oliver was also a Research Associate at Texas A&M University from 1987-1990, working with federal and state agencies on management issues associated with Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries, giving him both personal and professional experience with fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. He holds a BBA in Business Management and a Master's degree in Fisheries Science, both from Texas A&M. Oliver enjoys many outdoor activities and is an avid hunter and fisherman. He and his wife Maggie of 34 years have two sons, Christopher and Nicholas.

“I look forward to leading NOAA Fisheries and working with our partners to rebuild U.S. fisheries and conserve and recover protected resources where necessary, promote domestic marine aquaculture production where appropriate, maintain our reputation for world-renowned science and analysis, and do so while maximizing fishing opportunities for the benefit of recreational and commercial fishermen, processors, and the coastal communities which depend on them for generations to come,” said Oliver.