National Fisherman

NMFS has announced two senior leadership changes that the agency says align with changes it is making to its West Coast operations.

Current Northwest Regional Administrator Will Stelle will become the regional administrator for the agency's Northwest and Southwest regional offices as NMFS works on forming its new West Coast regional office, NMFS says. And Southwest Regional Administrator Rod McInnis has accepted a new position at NMFS' Silver Spring, Md., headquarters as acting director of the agency's Office of International Affairs.

Stelle, pictured below, has been the Northwest regional administrator since June 2010 and, before that, from 1994-2000, during the first round of Pacific salmon listings under the Endangered Species Act.

will-stelle"His extensive experience on ESA salmon issues provides a strong foundation for NOAA's mission to rebuild these valuable natural resources and promote the coastal economies that depend on them," said Sam Rauch, the acting director of NMFS, in his statement announcing the changes. "Will is well-versed in other issues as well. Will has been our primary liaison multiple federal, state, tribal, and local partners on California Bay Delta issues. And, his success at bringing West Coast habitat and water rights issues to the foreground along with an emphasis on protecting and restoring ecosystems will help secure workable solutions for the many challenging issues facing [NMFS] on the West Coast."

During the transition, Stelle will maintain offices in both Seattle and Sacramento.

McInnis, who joined the Southwest Region in 1982, held progressively more responsible positions prior to becoming regional administrator in 2004.

"We are pleased he is coming to headquarters to step into a role that is tailor-made for his skills and experience, including his decades of direct bilateral and international negotiations," Rauch said. "And, as the lead for International Affairs, he will continue to serve in his role as the Federal Commissioner to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean."

According to Rauch, NMFS will make more decisions about the structure of the new West Coast region and begin to implement those changes.

"Although other changes will take place, the agency will maintain all of its current physical field offices, within the region, and we will continue to provide a sustained level of service to our many stakeholders in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho under the new structure, consistent with federal appropriations," Rauch said.

NMFS aims to have the entire region "finalized and fully operational" by the end of fiscal year 2014, Rauch said.

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