"New National Fisheries Chief Addresses Anglersí Concerns

Chris Oliver, the nationís newest head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, responds in his first interview specifically on matters of importance to recreational anglers.

By Doug Olander September 10, 2017

This past June, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross named Chris Oliver as assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. His responsibility is overseeing the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Oliver brings more direct fisheries-management experience to the role than some other recent appointees to head NMFS. The Texas native spent the past 27 years working with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, first as a fisheries biologist, then deputy director and ó for the past 16 years ó as the councilís director.

Despite his experience, Oliverís direction on policy matters of importance to the nationís recreational anglers and attendant industries has not been well known. Itís the purpose of this exclusive interview to change that and begin to establish an idea of what we might expect from the latest head of NMFS.

Management Strategies, Commercial Vs. Recreational

Do you feel that commercial fisheries and recreational fisheries can and/or should be managed by NMFS with the same fundamental approach, or that very different management strategies are required for each? As a fisheries manager, what differences, if any, do you see between the way these two stakeholder groups use a resource that would or should require different management strategies?

First, thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers. I am still getting my sea-legs here at NOAA Fisheries, but my experience in Alaska gave me a solid foundation for tackling the issues that concern both our recreational and commercial fishermen on a national level.

So, on to your questions. I think we can agree that commercial and recreational fishing are different, but both share the common need for sustainable, science-based management and access, and both are subject to the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. As businesses, commercial fishermen appropriately seek to harvest fish as quickly and efficiently as possible, minimizing costs and maximizing profits. Recreational anglers, on the other hand, fish to enjoy time on the water or spend time with family and friends. I believe we need to recognize these differences and, where appropriate, use different management approaches to ensure both communities thrive....."

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