Eric Schwaab Comes Aboard as New Head of EDF’s Oceans Program

Former NOAA leader brings more than two decades of fisheries experience

June 17, 2019
Matt Smelser,, (202) 572-3272

(WASHINGTON – June 17, 2019) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced today that Eric Schwaab, a recognized expert in ocean conservation, is the new leader and Senior Vice President of the Oceans program.

“Eric’s passion for the oceans, his deep technical and management expertise on fisheries issues and his experience as a leader makes him a perfect fit,” said Amanda Leland, Executive Vice President, EDF. “Over more than two decades, he has worked in nearly all aspects of conservation and he understands what is required to drive impact at scale.”

Schwaab has led government agencies at the state and federal levels in the United States, rising through the ranks at Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources to become Deputy Secretary, and then being appointed head of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Outside of government, Schwaab has previously run conservation grants programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and was chief of conservation programs at the National Aquarium and the National Park Foundation.

“Eric was critical to the success we achieved during my time as NOAA Administrator,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, University Distinguished Professor, Oregon State University and former EDF Board Trustee. “His unflappable get-it-done approach makes him notably effective working with a range of stakeholders from fishermen to global leaders.”

As head of NMFS, Schwaab led the transformation of U.S. fisheries management including widespread adoption of science-based catch limits and catch shares. EDF was a leading advocate for these reforms, which have driven a dramatic recovery of fish populations and increased catch and profits for fishermen. As the new Senior Vice President for Oceans, he leads a team of scientists, economists and advocates around the world who are partnering with fishing communities, academics and government leaders to achieve EDF’s vision of creating thriving, resilient oceans in our lifetimes.  

“I’m excited about the opportunity for what we can achieve at EDF,” said Schwaab. “This team and the global network it is building have the tools and passion to reverse overfishing and make our oceans – and all those who depend on them – more resilient, even in the face of climate change.”

Internationally, Schwaab has represented the U.S. in global fishing treaties like the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as well as in important bilateral negotiations with other countries such as Mexico and on U.S. fishing operations on the high seas. A hallmark of his career has been a drive for win-win solutions to environmental problems.

“I joined EDF because its mission is focused on people and nature,” said Schwaab. “I have always believed in the power of ideas that benefit both. What EDF does so well is to put those powerful ideas into action in a way that creates a brighter future for all.”

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