Saturday, August 1, 2009

Obama camp moving slowly on top NMFS job

Looks like Jim Balsiger of Juneau will be staying longer than expected in Silver Spring, Md., where he's been serving as head of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Balsiger, who came into the job during the Bush administration, was believed to be on the way out some time ago after two names emerged as top replacement candidates — Arne Fuglvog, a former Petersburg commercial fisherman now serving as an aide to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Massachusetts oceanography professor Brian Rothschild.

But recently, press reports emerged that the Obama administration was moving slowly on picking Balsiger's successor, and maybe had even reopened the search.

Rumors also have been circulating that Balsiger was asked to stay on as NMFS chief for six more months.

I called spokeswoman Monica Allen at NMFS headquarters on Friday and she kindly relayed my question to Balsiger: Hey, what's the deal?

"He told me the scoop on that," Allen told me. "He is going to serve probably for a few months until the administration makes that important appointment."

Six more months?

"It’s not locked in, no,” she replied. “Jim has been asked to stay on for several more months."

Of course, Deckboss wonders whither Fuglvog's chances at this point. I gave him a call a few days ago, but he didn't get back to me. No worries, Arne. Can't say as I blame you.

Here's a couple of links if you're interested in reading more about this:

Gloucester Daily Times story

Commentary from National Fisherman editor Jerry Fraser

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