Alaska pollock supplier American Seafoods has hired Chris Oliver, a former top administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as special advisor on government affairs in the company's regulatory division.

Oliver has has a long career in fisheries. In 2017, he was designated by presidential appointment as Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA, where he was responsible for the management of commercial and recreational marine fisheries and protected species throughout the US Exclusive Economic Zone, which encompasses the Alaska pollock fishing grounds.

Oliver worked at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council -- the government agency charged with managing the Alaska pollock fishery and setting its annual catch quotas-- for more than 30 years, as a fisheries biologist, a deputy director, and finally as executive director for 16 years.

“We’re thrilled to have Chris and his deep national and international fisheries experience on our team,” said American Seafoods CEO Mikel Durham. “He’s a sector authority, and his position here underscores our commitment to environmentally sound, sustainable, and productive fishery policies and guiding principles not just for American Seafoods, but also for U.S. fisheries management as a whole.”

Seattle-based American Seafoods holds the largest quota share of the $1 billion (€820 million) Alaska pollock fishery.

Debunked report

Oliver made news in October 2017 when he called for the retraction of the controversial science paper published in the journal Marine Policy that alleged a significant portion of Alaska salmon, crab and pollock entered the Japanese market from IUU fisheries.

The controversial paper, which was retracted in 2018, alleged an estimated 15 percent of Alaska seafood is entering the Japanese market from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries.

"Marine Policy did the right thing by retracting an erroneous study that could have undermined the reputation of fisheries which abide by, and are held to, the robust stewardship standards of US fisheries management," Oliver said at the time of the retraction.

No buyers for American

Oliver joins American Seafoods as it continues a more than two-year search for new investors or a new buyer.

Last fall, talks between owners of Seattle-based American Seafoods and Alaska's Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) broke off.

In May, BBNC, now one of the largest holders of Pacific cod quota through a newly formed seafood subsidary, entered into talks to potentially acquire American Seafoods, which has been looking for new investors to replace its largest shareholder, private equity group Bregal Partners.

The current status of the company's efforts to attract investors remains unclear, and American Seafood officials have declined to comment on the matter.