NOAA Fisheries announces new West Coast Region—Northwest Region & Southwest Region unite to protect marine resources West Coast-wide

Fall 2013

west coast region map

NOAA Fisheries manages, conserves, and protects marine resources. This mission includes protecting threatened species and marine mammals and ensuring that our fisheries are sustainably managed across a broad geography. On the West Coast, we work with our partners in the inland streams and habitats of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, as well as in adjacent coastal waters. For decades, we have advanced our West Coast stewardship mission through two different organizational structures, the Northwest Region and the Southwest Region. Today we are uniting and operating as a single region: the West Coast Region.

The scope of NOAA Fisheries’ work on the West Coast is not changing with this new structure. Rather, the integration opens the opportunity to pursue closer program coordination throughout the West Coast, promoting appropriate levels of programmatic consistency, efficiency, and the allocation of available resources to the high priority challenges. The new structure also allows us to work more efficiently with our domestic and international partners as we manage groundfish fisheries, salmon, halibut, whiting, highly migratory species, such as tunas and sharks, and coastal pelagic species, such as sardines.

Cutting-edge science will continue to provide the foundation for all our activities on the West Coast. The Region will continue close collaboration with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, in La Jolla, and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, located in Seattle. This collaboration is vital to ensuring science-based decision making.

Will Stelle is the new West Coast Regional Administrator, and Barry Thom is Deputy Regional Administrator. All office locations will remain open in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. But the integrated region has a new configuration. New Protected Resources and Sustainable Fisheries Divisions will focus on coast-wide program responsibilities, including all of the agency’s authorities under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition, four area offices will focus on protecting and recovering salmon and steelhead and their habitats, as well as other NOAA trust resources, in specific geographic areas.

“The integration of NOAA Fisheries offices across the West Coast will allow us to be more efficient and more consistent in our coast-wide programs, especially for salmon and groundfish,” said Stelle.  “We’ll be better positioned to adopt the most successful approaches from each region, capitalize on the deep expertise of our staff throughout the coast, and generate new initiatives to streamline services and improve conservation of our resources and their habitats.”

To learn more about the new West Coast Region, please visit:

To learn about the particular programs and offices, please visit:

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