Eric C. Schwaab, second in charge at Maryland's state Department of Natural Resources, was named yesterday to take the reins of the troubled and challenged $1 billion National Marine Fisheries Service.
The appointment by NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco — rumored for weeks — fills a position that had been vacant for more than a year. The vacuum was considered by the U.S. Commerce Department Inspector General last month to have been a contributing factor in allowing the federal fisheries police to operate largely without oversight and drift into a variety of improper actions against the fishing industry.
The NMFS administrator is responsible for federal fisheries law enforcement. The epicenter of the problem was confirmed to be the office of agents in Gloucester, who hold authority for law enforcement throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.
"Eric is a creative and proven manager, consensus builder and leader," Lubchenco said in a e-mailed statement.
"He has developed and implemented solutions to address challenges in regional habitat restoration, including Chesapeake Bay restoration issues, fish and wildlife conservation, public lands management, natural resources law enforcement, public agency administration, strategic planning and leadership development.
Federal offices were closed yesterday because of the snowstorm, and Lubchenco's office was unable to provide a professional resume, a salary or job description for the 48-year-old Schwaab, who lives in Catonsville, Md.
A biographical summary released by NOAA indicates that, previous to his position with the state of Maryland, Schwaab had been resource director for the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, a private organization that represents the interests of state agencies.
Earlier, at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, "Eric served in many different capacities, including director of fisheries, forest, wildlife and heritage service, park ranger (and) environmental police officer," according to the biographic summary.