A former New Bedford mayor has been tapped by the U.S. Department of Commerce to take over as the Northeast regional administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, based out of Gloucester's Blackburn Industrial Park.
John K. Bullard was appointed Monday by Samuel Rauch, the Commerce Department's deputy assistant administrator for fisheries, out of NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.
In his new post, Bullard, who served as New Bedford's mayor from 1986 through 1992, will step into the position held previously by Patricia Kurkul, who stepped aside in December.
The Gloucester-based regional headquarters regulates America's East Coast fisheries from Maine though the Carolinas. In his announcement naming Bullard, Rauch noted that the office works with coastal states from North Carolina to Maine, two fishery management councils, the fishing industry and other stakeholders "to manage federal commercial and recreational fisheries, marine mammals, habitat, and much more."
"He will also oversee critical aspects of international fisheries conservation and management in the region," Rauch aid.
Rauch said he hopes Bullard's appointment will bring "a renewed spirit and forward momentum to the Northeast Regional Office as he strives to balance NOAA's multiple missions in a historically significant and dynamic region. "
"Mr. Bullard has the right leadership skills and experience for the job," said Rauch. "His long history of bringing people with diverse perspectives together to reach common goals will serve him well in his new position. His efforts will continue to strengthen NOAA's partnerships with fishing communities as we work together to build an economically vibrant and sustainable future."
A native of New Bedford, Bullard joined NOAA Fisheries following his retirement at the end of June as president of Massachusetts-based Sea Education Association, a nonprofit education organization headquartered in Woods Hole. The association, known as SEA, teaches college students and others about the science and culture of the sea through a 12-week "sea semester" that combines on-campus studies in oceanography, nautical science, and maritime studies with sailing and research aboard one of the organization's tall ships in the Atlantic or Pacific.
Prior to joining SEA, Bullard served on Chancellor Jean MacCormack's senior staff at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
From 1993 to 1998, Bullard was a member of the Clinton administration in Washington, D.C., where he led NOAA's first federal Office of Sustainable Development and Intergovernmental Affairs.
There, he created programs designed to assist fishing families in New England, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska, and around the nation, advised communities on sustainable development, and helped set policy for aquaculture.
At the state and regional level, Bullard also helped create what has become a controversial marine spatial plan as a governor-appointed member of the Massachusetts' Ocean Advisory Commission. Marine spatial planning — referred to by many as "ocean zoning" — is seen as a potential threat to New England's fishing grounds.