We are pleased to introduce Chris Rilling, our new Puget Soundkeeper and Executive Director. Chris brings over 30 years of experience in marine ecosystems management and has devoted his career to preserving our nation’s natural resources on land and at sea. Chris has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Humboldt State University and a Master of Science from the University of Maryland.
Chris’ passion for clean water issues began early in his career as both a captain and crew member on commercial fishing vessels in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Under contract with the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation, he harvested pink, chum, silver, and sockeye salmon returns at various hatcheries and is intimately familiar with safeguarding a crew and addressing bycatch concerns. He also participated in herring-roe-on-kelp and halibut fisheries.
Chris was also captain of one of the first commercial fishing vessels to respond to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. For three months, he worked on cleaning up the oil spill, rescued animals for rehabilitation, and deployed oil deflection and absorption booms to protect newly released salmon and critical shoreline habitat for wildlife.
Throughout his tenure at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Chris worked his way up the ranks from a Coastal Management Fellow focused on GIS systems for wetland restoration, to the Director of the Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division in Seattle. As Director, Chris managed the largest fishery observer program in the U.S. At this post, he was responsible for the training and deployment of over 450 observers for 43,000 days at sea annually – more than half of the country’s observer programs combined – to collect catch data onboard fishing vessels and at onshore processing plants for management and scientific purposes.
In total, Chris accumulated 18 years with NOAA, authored over 30 regulatory actions, and was the recipient of two Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Awards for innovative and timely implementation of management solutions. Chris is also a graduate of the Department of Commerce’s prestigious Executive Leadership Development Program.
“I am incredibly honored and excited to have been selected as Puget Soundkeeper’s next Executive Director,” commented Chris on his new role. “It is an honor to be a part of a passionate, energetic, and motivated team that inspires others to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound. We are poised and ready to do whatever it takes to safeguard our waterways.”
Please join us in welcoming Chris to our Puget Soundkeeper family!