On Thursday, April 22, the Biden White House announced the nomination of Rick Spinrad as the administrator of NOAA.
Spinrad is a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University, and a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies. He served as chief scientist at NOAA under President Obama, from 2014 to 2016.
“We are pleased to see Dr. Rick Spinrad, an experienced oceanographer with a long history of working at the nexus of science and policy, nominated to be the next NOAA administrator,” said the Seafood Harvesters of America in a statement on Thursday. “As the former chief scientist for NOAA, Dr. Spinrad understands the importance of keeping science at the heart of NOAA’s mission and work.”
Spinrad was a senior executive with the U.S. Navy, and was awarded the branch’s highest civilian award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He also received Presidential Rank Awards from Presidents Bush and Obama.
The same White House announcement named Monica Medina as the nominee for assistant secretary of the Bureau and Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs under the State Department.
“We look forward to working with Medina to safeguard our oceans’ health in the face of climate change while simultaneously providing food to millions around the world,” the harvesters’ group said.
Jane Lubchenco, also an OSU professor, led NOAA from 2009 to 2013 and has been named the first deputy director of Climate and Environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In June 2009, Lubchenco announced formation of a new task force to implement catch share management, and named Medina to lead the effort.
“Transitioning to catch shares is a priority for NOAA,” Medina said in a statement at the time. “This task force will engage stakeholders to help ensure that the regional fishery councils and NOAA implement catch shares wherever appropriate. We must all work together to end overfishing and rebuild fisheries, to improve the economics of fishing and fishing communities, and to protect the ecosystems that sustain them.”
As principal deputy undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere during the Obama administration, Medina was involved with Arctic conservation efforts and the cleanup and recovery operations after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Medina was previously a senior officer with the Pew Environmental Group, deputy director of the environmental program at the Walton Family Foundation, and senior director of ocean policy at the National Geographic Society.
Federal fisheries face a vast range of challenges, including climate change, offshore development, domestic food security, pressures to overhaul fixed gear requirements. Meanwhile, the industry awaits news on the next NMFS director as Paul Doremus continues to serve as acting administrator.