The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently proposed merging its Southwest and Northwest administrative regions, which would result in a savings of $3 million annually in management costs. NMFS is a component of the Department of Commerce, and is responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act as it applies to marine species and their habitats. Currently, the NMFS Southwest region manages California, and the Northwest region covers Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The Obama administration proposed the merger to “improve coordination in areas where there is currently joint decision-making” by the two regions.
The merger could make it more difficult for Californians to access management because the regional headquarters would likely be located in Seattle. However, according to Kevin Chu, a deputy Southwest regional administrator, the Long Beach office would remain open. Also, although there would likely be staff cuts as a result of the merger, Chu claims that the cuts would be achieved through attrition and retirement at the senior level. The change is expected to occur within the next 18 months. (Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times (April 9, 2013)).