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 Region oversees sustainable fisheries that produce about half the fish caught in U.S. waters, contributing more than $7 billion to the national economy and supporting our nation’s food security. Our responsibilities cover 842,000 square nautical miles off Alaska--an area which constitutes 70 percent of the total U.S. continental shelf.
We also 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.
The Sustainable Fisheries Division works to maximize fishing opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities in Alaska. We authorize federal fisheries in Alaska waters annually, and implement fishery management programs developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and associated laws. We administer fisheries, collect and manage catch data, and direct a unique Community Development Quota program.
We also coordinate with the State of Alaska on fishery management and data collection programs, and with the International Pacific Halibut Commission on regulations governing the recreational, commercial, and subsistence Pacific halibut fisheries off Alaska. Our work sustains healthy fish stocks important to commercial and recreational fisheries with the goal of deriving the most benefit from our fisheries for food and economic well-being, while conserving ecosystem health and fish stocks for continued productivity to benefit future generations of fishing families and Alaska’s coastal communities.
Protected Resources Division
The Protected Resources Division works to recover and conserve protected species--like whales and seals--while supporting responsible fishing and resource development. We provide management and oversight for the conservation and recovery of marine mammal species in Alaska under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and Fur Seal Act. We provide guidance on the mitigation of fishery-marine mammal interactions and adaptive management measures to reduce impacts from disturbance, harassment, and takes. The division also implements agreements with Alaska Native groups to co-manage the subsistence harvest of nine marine mammal species.
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. We identify technically and economically feasible alternatives and offer realistic recommendations for the conservation of valuable living marine resources. We focus on activities in habitats used by federally managed fish species located offshore, nearshore, in estuaries, and in freshwater areas important to anadromous salmon.
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.
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 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.