Jennifer Quan will take the lead as regional administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Coast fisheries program April 23, according to an agency announcement.

Quan, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest region, began her NOAA career as a supervisory fish biologist leading the South Puget Sound Branch of the Oregon/Washington Coastal Office. She is now an advisor to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Quan is succeeding regional director Barry Thom, who left the National Marine Fisheries Service West Coast administrator position in 2020 to lead the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Scott Rumsey, who has been acting regional director since Thom’s departure, will resume his role as deputy regional administrator, according to the NOAA statement.

“I feel fortunate and excited to have Jennifer join the NOAA Fisheries leadership team at this time,'' said Janet Coit, the assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “She is a capable, experienced leader who has demonstrated throughout her career that she understands fisheries and complex environmental issues and knows how to work with others to address the many natural resource challenges on the West Coast.”

Including the coasts and watersheds of Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho, the NMFS West Coast region is one of the largest managed by the agency, covering 317,690 square miles of the eastern Pacific Ocean and more than 7,000 miles of tidal coastline. It also includes the ecological functions within the states’ vast rivers and estuaries.

Quan’s career working as a biologist for NOAA and Washington state “spans a broad spectrum of West Coast fisheries issues” according to NOAA:

  • Dolphin conservation in the eastern Tropical Pacific
  • Research on blue and humpback whales in California
  • Study of tribal harvest on gray whales
  • Pacific fisheries management
  • Salmon recovery
  • Endangered Species Act regulations

Quan has been working for two years with Senator Cantwell and the on the Senate commerce committee to develop and pass legislation on NOAA ocean, climate, weather and atmospheric research and services – including the Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

Quan’s work with the NMFS West Coast region included her supervising the south Puget Sound Branch of the Oregon/Washington Coastal Office, “with significant achievements in improving branch morale and innovating nearshore Endangered Species Act consultations,” according to NOAA.

Before joining the federal agency Quan worked for 10 years at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. As the state DFW’s lands division manager she acquired more than 114,000 acres of habitat for fish and wildlife protection, and worked for starting a new state access pass program that brought in  revenue of more than $25 million a year to secure help funding for maintenance of conservation and recreation lands.

Quan is a fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute. She holds a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s of science degree from Evergreen State College.



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