U.S. Interior acting assistant secretary for insular areas Eileen Sobeck, who temporarily filled the post previously held by Anthony “Tony” M. Babauta about a year ago, will become the new assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries beginning Jan. 27.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) credited Sobeck with providing $1.2 million in grants to help keep the Commonwealth Health Center open and certified over the last year.
“I am grateful for her work at the Office of Insular Affairs and look forward to continuing to work with Ms. Sobeck in her new position, protecting fisheries and the fishing economy in the Pacific and around our nation,” Sablan said.
It was also under Sobeck’s term as acting assistant secretary for insular areas that the U.S. Labor Ombudsman’s Office closed at the end of fiscal year 2013 after 14 years of aiding thousands of foreign workers in the CNMI who were victims of labor abuses, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and illegal recruitment, among other things.
This, despite requests to keep the ombudsman’s office open, at least until the end of the transitional program for alien workers in the CNMI.
On Jan. 15, acting NOAA administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan appointed Sobeck as assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. She takes the helm from Samuel Rauch, who has served as acting assistant administrator since 2012.
As assistant administrator, Sobeck will oversee the management and conservation of recreational and commercial fisheries, and the protection of marine mammals, marine protected species, and coastal fisheries habitat within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, NOAA said.
NOAA Fisheries employs 4,800 people in five regional offices, six science centers, and 12 laboratories in 15 states and U.S. territories.
“Since the beginning of her career, Eileen has sought to strike a balance in management of natural resources to ensure sustainable uses while protecting and preserving our marine ecosystems for future generations,” NOAA’s Sullivan said.
She added that Sobeck’s background and expertise will be an asset at NOAA Fisheries as they work to continue turning the corner on overfishing, protect endangered marine species, and promote smart management approaches to build sustainable fisheries and vibrant coastal communities.
Sobeck currently serves as acting assistant secretary of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. She has served as deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior since 2009.
“I am honored to be returning to NOAA in this very important role,” Sobeck said in a statement. “From managing our nation’s fisheries to protecting endangered marine species and ecosystems to promoting commercial and recreational fishing, the work of NOAA fisheries is critically important to the nation. I look forward to joining the team and working with the talented men and women within the organization to fulfill its mission.”