Kelly Denit Appointed New Director for NOAA’s Office of Sustainable Fisheries

July 13, 2020

Denit will work closely with Fisheries’ regional offices and science centers in partnership with the regional fishery management councils, interstate marine fishery commissions, and states.

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Today, NOAA announced the appointment of Ms. Kelly Denit as the new Director of NOAA’s Office of Sustainable Fisheries. As the new director, Ms. Denit will oversee a national office responsible for the implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the management of Atlantic highly migratory species, and promoting U.S. seafood safety while supporting seafood-related commerce and trade.

In this role, she will work closely with Fisheries’ regional offices and science centers in partnership with the regional fishery management councils, interstate marine fishery commissions, and states to establish effective fishery management measures, set catch limits, ensure compliance with fisheries regulations, and reduce bycatch. She will ensure office activities support agency priorities and work with key stakeholders—including the commercial and recreational fishing industries, tribes, academia, non-government organizations, and others—to advance those priorities around the country. 

“U.S. fisheries are among the world’s largest, most valuable, and most sustainable as a result of the U.S. fishery management process. As our new lead for the implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Ms. Denit has a tremendous responsibility and I have every confidence she will rise to the challenge based on her experience and her extraordinary leadership skills,” said Samuel Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs at NOAA Fisheries.

Ms. Denit has held various positions within NOAA over the last 15 years after first joining the agency as a Knauss Sea Grant fellow in Fisheries’ Office of International Affairs. Most recently, she served as the Chief of the Domestic Fisheries Division in the Office of Sustainable Fisheries. In that role she provided national policy direction and performance oversight to ensure the continued sustainable management of our nation’s fisheries, primarily in federal waters. Prior to that, Ms. Denit’s work covered a range of activities from state/federal partnerships to recreational fisheries to strategic planning/budgeting to catch share programs. She has also worked at the NOAA Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in Beaufort, North Carolina. 

Her professional experience includes working in Fisheries’ Greater Atlantic Regional Office where she worked on the management of the groundfish fishery. She also worked in the agency’s Northeast Fishery Science Center where she helped lead the Fishery Monitoring and Research Division, which included the observer and cooperative research programs. She also coordinated the implementation of NOAA's Catch Share Policy among the agency staff and leadership, Fishery Management Councils, other Federal agencies, and external stakeholders.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Denit worked on fisheries issues as a senior policy advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere/NOAA Administrator. As a policy advisor in the Office of International Affairs, she focused on various international fisheries topics such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

Ms. Denit earned a B.S. in Ecology from Yale University and an M.S. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami. She also completed NOAA’s Leadership Competencies Development Program in 2014. In her downtime, she loves to travel and coaches girls youth sports teams.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead NOAA Fisheries Office of Sustainable Fisheries and especially to engage with our stakeholders and partners in conserving fisheries resources for future generations,” said Denit. “One of the critical aspects of this new role will be supporting our fishing businesses and communities as they navigate through the challenges of COVID-19.”

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on July 13, 2020

Sustainable Fisheries