AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Friday nominated Patrick Keliher to serve as commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, more than six months after his original choice resigned acrimoniously.
Keliher has been the department’s deputy commissioner and director of the Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat since 2007.
He has been the acting commissioner since July, when former DMR head Norman Olsen abruptly stepped down, citing policy conflicts with the governor.
“Pat has gone above and beyond demonstrating his ability to serve as commissioner,” LePage said in a statement Friday. “He has worked to reorganize the department, focusing on areas that have the biggest economic benefit to the state.
“Keliher has demonstrated his ability to work with the fishing industry on contentious issues, balancing our need to create and sustain jobs while protecting Maine’s numerous marine resources. I am confident that he will continue to serve Maine people well.”
The Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources will review the governor’s nomination in the coming weeks. If approved, Keliher would then need to be confirmed by the Senate.
“I am honored to be selected by Gov. LePage to be the next commissioner of marine resources,” Keliher said in a statement. “We have many challenges facing our coastal communities — it is imperative that our long-term management plans take into account the sustainability of the resources and also the people who depend on these resources for their livelihood.”
Before joining DMR, Keliher was executive director of the Atlantic Salmon Commission and executive director of the New England States of the Coastal Conservation Association, Greater New England.
Olsen, who was picked by LePage and confirmed by the Senate, clashed with some members of the state’s fishing community over policy issues right out of the gate. He said his critics were successful in turning the governor against him.
At the time, LePage said he was shocked by Olsen’s sudden resignation but the governor disagreed with his characterization of their relationship.