Starfish on eelgrass
About Us

Alaska Regional Office

Overseeing the nation’s marine stewardship responsibilities for the continental shelf off Alaska, which constitutes 70 percent of the total U.S. continental shelf.

Our Location

Map showing Alaska Regional Office locations and territory
The Alaska Regional Office is located in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, with field staff in offices in Anchorage, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor. Our area of responsibility includes nearly 3 million square miles of the North Pacific Ocean, including the Arctic Oceans (Chukchi and Beaufort seas), Gulf of Alaska, and the eastern Bering Sea. These waters support some of the most productive and valuable commercial fisheries in the world, and are also home to the largest populations of marine mammals in the nation.

What We Do

The Alaska Regional Office oversees the nation’s marine stewardship responsibilities for the continental shelf off Alaska, which constitutes 70 percent of the total U.S. continental shelf. Alaska waters provide more than half of all seafood harvested in U.S. waters, contributing nearly $2 billion to the national economy and supporting our nation’s food security.

We work with our counterpart, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, in the science-based stewardship of living marine resources and their habitat in the waters of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans off Alaska. 

Sustainable Fisheries Division

The Sustainable Fisheries Division implements the policy objectives of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and manages fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska. The division coordinates with the State of Alaska on development of fishery management and data collection programs, and the International Pacific Halibut Commission on development of regulations governing the recreational, commercial, and subsistence Pacific halibut fisheries off Alaska.  The division provides guidance to the Council and other management agencies on development, implementation, and monitoring of fishery management measures, and draft National Environmental Policy Act and other analytical documents to support management decisions.

To accomplish these objectives, the division collects and manages catch data from North Pacific groundfish fisheries, develops and maintains information systems for integrating catch and observer data for estimating species-specific total catch, and uses that data to manage fisheries to ensure that catch does not exceed established quotas. The division also develops, maintains, and installs electronic shore-side logbooks and software supporting the interagency electronic reporting program, approves catch monitoring plans, certifies at-sea processor scales, and provides current and historic fishery statistics to other government agencies and the public, while maintaining the confidentiality of protected statistics. 

Protected Resources Division

The Protected Resources Division is responsible for implementing marine mammal conservation and recovery programs under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act in close coordination with the State of Alaska and other partners. 

The division develops and implements conservation programs for marine mammals including whales, ice seals, harbor seals, northern fur seals, and Steller sea lions; develops and implements recovery programs for threatened and endangered species including Cook Inlet beluga whales, bowhead whales, North Pacific right whales, western Steller sea lions, and Arctic ringed seals; coordinates the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network to respond to stranded or entangled marine mammals; consults with federal agencies to minimize the effects of proposed actions on threatened and endangered marine mammals and their critical habitat, such as oil and gas development and coastal construction projects; develops and implements co-management agreements with Alaska Native organizations to cooperatively manage subsistence use of marine mammals; works collaboratively with stakeholders to implement guidelines and practices for marine mammal viewing to avoid harassment; conducts reviews to determine if species warrant protection under the ESA or if ESA-listed species no longer need such protection; and analyzes interactions between marine mammals and commercial fisheries to minimize adverse effects.

Habitat Conservation Division

The Habitat Conservation Division works in coordination with industries, stakeholder groups, government agencies, and private citizens to avoid, minimize, or offset the adverse effects of human activities on Essential Fish Habitat and living marine resources in Alaska. This work includes conducting and/or reviewing environmental analyses for a large variety of activities ranging from commercial fishing to coastal development to large transportation and energy projects. The division identifies technically and economically feasible alternatives and offers realistic recommendations for the conservation of valuable living marine resources. The division focuses on activities in habitats used by federally managed fish species located offshore, nearshore, in estuaries, and in freshwater areas important to anadromous salmon.

International Coordination

  • International Whaling Commission: The Alaska Region co-manages bowhead whale harvests with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, a confederation of 11 indigenous Alaska whaling communities, under International Whaling Commission quotas.

    • North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission: The region represents the United States on this commission, which serves as a forum for international coordination of Pacific salmon and the prohibition of directed fishing for anadromous stocks in international waters.

    • International Pacific Halibut Commission: The region represents the United States on this commission, providing coordination and governance for the conservation and management of Pacific halibut stocks in U.S. and Canadian waters.

    • Pacific Salmon Treaty Commission: The region supports the Northern and Transboundary panels of the commission, responsible for sustainable management of U.S. and Canadian salmon stocks.

Our Leadership

Jim Balsiger

Regional Administrator

Dr. James W. Balsiger has served as the regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office since May 2000. From February 2008 to 2010, he served as the Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, where he oversaw the management and conservation of marine fisheries and the protection of marine mammals, sea turtles, and coastal fisheries habitat within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone for the entire agency. Prior to his current role, he was the Regional Science and Research Director at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Doug Mecum

Deputy Administrator

Doug Mecum has served as Deputy Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region since September 2005. Before that, he was Director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Management Team
Sustainable Fisheries Division
Glenn Merrill

Fish & Wildlife Administrator

Protected Resources Division
Jon Kurland

Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources

Habitat Conservation Division
Gretchen Harrington

Fish & Wildlife Administrator

Operations, Management and Information Division
Peter Jones

Management & Program Analysis Officer

Restricted Access Management
Tracy Buck

Supervisory Permit Specialist