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Jim Balsiger Goes North

(Quarterly Report for Jan-Feb-Mar 2000)

photo of Jim BalsingerAt an all-hands meeting held 15 March 2000,  Science and Research Director Dr. James W. Balsiger announced his appointment as Alaska Regional Administrator  effective 4 June 2000. In affirming his acceptance of the appointment, Dr. Balsiger addressed a near capacity crowd in the auditorium of NOAA’s Western Regional Center in Seattle. Dr. Balsiger spoke of his commitment to the Alaska Center’s  mission, the dedication of  its staff, and reflected briefly with both warmth and humor on his nearly 25 years  at the Center.

Jim began his career with NMFS as a research biometrician at the former Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center where he worked from 1972 to 1973. In that position he was responsible for providing analysis of the status of stocks of king and Tanner crabs in the Bering Sea in support of U.S. commitments to the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission and U.S. negotiators in bilateral fishing agreements with Japan and the former Soviet Union. From 1973 to 1977 Jim worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry at the University of Wisconsin teaching forest biometrics and conducting research on forest and forest insect population interactions, forest tree distribution patterns, and forest sampling methodology. In 1977, he returned to the Pacific Northwest to serve in the Status of Stocks Task in the AFSC’s Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management (REFM) Division. As Program Leader from 1980 to 1991, he was responsible for developing the status of stocks documents necessary for the management of exploited groundfish species in the North Pacific Ocean and eastern Bering Sea. He also served as chairman of the plan team for the fishery management plan for the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery; alternate member of the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council; and Center representative on the working group providing oversight on the reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

In 1991, Jim  was appointed Deputy Director of the AFSC. His responsibilities included assisting the Center Director in the overall management, planning, and evaluation of all phases of operations of the Center, including the direction and coordination of the efforts of a Center staff of 300 scientists and technical personnel involved in Federal fisheries research in the coastal oceans off Alaska and the west coast of the United States. As Center Deputy Director he also served as vessel coordinator for the AFSC.

Jim has served as Science and Research Director, Alaska Region, since August 1996, having assumed the responsibilities of Acting Director in January of that year. During his tenure as Science Director he has provided the direction and oversight of the scientific support necessary for the management and protection of the region’s living marine resources and played a vital role in addressing the complex issues surrounding Steller sea lion/fisheries interactions. He has served as a member of the NMFS Science Board, the NMFS  Executive Board, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) and as Acting Alaska Regional Administrator.

Jim was born in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. He received his B.S. degree in Forestry from Michigan Technological University in 1966, his M.S. degree in Forest Silviculture from Purdue University in 1970, and his Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology and Natural Resource Management from the University of Washington in 1974. Jim is the author of more than 30 scientific publications. He is married and has two sons who live in the Seattle metropolitan area.

By Susan Calderon.