“My office develops and implements regulatory programs to maximize commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks and fishing communities in Alaska,” he says. “We also co-manage subsistence use of marine mammals like whales, sea lions, and fur seals with Alaska Native organizations.”
As a government major at Hamilton, Kurland’s senior thesis focused on the relationship between law and social change. “I was involved in Hamilton’s nascent environmental action club, and spent spring semester of my junior year with the Williams-Mystic maritime studies program,” he says.
Kurland had considered law school, but decided that wasn’t the right fit. Attending an environmental careers conference in Boston his senior year (with support from Hamilton’s Career Center) led him to an internship with NOAA and a summer job there after graduation. He then completed a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island, specializing in the management of large marine ecosystems.
“My first jobs with NOAA involved habitat conservation, based in Gloucester, Mass. Then I took a job at NOAA headquarters, leading a new national program to identify and protect essential fish habitats,” Kurland says.
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In 2002, he moved to Juneau to lead the Alaska Region’s Habitat Conservation Division, eventually switching roles to lead the Protected Resources Division focused on conservation and recovery of marine mammals. Now he heads the agency’s Alaska region.
“After 20 years in Alaska, I’m excited to be in a new and broader role with NOAA,” Kurland says. “I hope to help the agency navigate new challenges for managing ocean resources sustainably as ecosystems respond to climate change.”