As Chief Conservation Officer, Eric Schwaab provides strategic vision and leadership for the National Aquarium’s Conservation and Science Division, a team of 130 professionals, engaging in initiatives ranging from field conservation and biological programs to legislative advocacy and animal rescue.
Eric most recently served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management for the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role he works closely with Congress, other agency leaders, partner organizations and local communities to develop policies and take conservation action to ensure sustainable federal fisheries, promote coastal stewardship and enhance protection of ocean habitats. Previously, as Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA from 2010-2012, Eric directed the National Marine Fisheries Service. He was responsible for science, management and conservation of federal fisheries, marine mammals, sea turtles and other protected resources within the United States. Eric led the agency’s national requirement to end overfishing, the implementation of “catch share” management programs to better align the interests of commercial fishing businesses with conservation goals, and efforts to improve coastal and ocean habitat conservation.
Prior to his work with NOAA, Eric spent three years as Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he worked extensively with legislative leaders and other agencies to support important state conservation initiatives, including Chesapeake Bay restoration, forest and park land conservation and fisheries rebuilding. Eric’s 20 plus years of conservation stewardship in Maryland also include service as Director of the Fisheries Service (1999-2003); Director of the Forest, Wildlife & Heritage Service (1995-1999); Director of the Forest Service (1992-1995); and Chief of Resource Management for Maryland Forest & Park Service (1989-1992). From 2003 into 2007, Eric served as Resource Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinating conservation work on behalf of fish and wildlife agencies across North America.
Eric, who served as the NOAA Administrator designee on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from McDaniel College and a Master of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University. He also completed a leadership program for senior executives in state and local government at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.