AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage has accepted the resignation of another Cabinet official.

Norm Olsen, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, offered his resignation today and the governor accepted it. The resignation was effective this morning.

Olsen said in a phone interview this afternoon that he was “put on warning” during a meeting two weeks ago with two LePage staffers that he had to be more responsive to industry members, because the governor’s office had been receiving complaints. Olsen said during his tenure he has conducted eight town hall meetings – some with LePage and some without – and diligently answered emails, letters and phone calls.
 
During today’s meeting with the governor, Olsen said he was told he had until the end of the summer to improve industry relations or the governor would re-evaluate his service. Olsen, who had come into the meeting with a one sentence, hand-written resignation letter, handed it over to LePage at the end of the meeting.

Patrick Keliher, who had been acting deputy commissioner of the department, has been sworn in as Olsen’s replacement, according to a release from the governor’s office.

“I am grateful to Commissioner Olsen for his work in my administration,” said LePage in the release. “Moving forward, I’m confident in Mr. Keliher’s abilities to continue our important work of improving opportunities for Maine’s coastal communities.”
 
Olsen was not at the department’s headquarters in Hallowell today, but staffers said the deputy commissioner had been in a meeting all day.

Olsen, 59, is a Cape Elizabeth native who began lobster fishing at the age of 12. A graduate of Cheverus High School and Colby College, he began his career in fisheries working as the executive director of the Maine Fishermen’s Cooperative Association, the New England Fishery Management Council and at a Maryland-based vertically-integrated surf clam and ocean quahog harvesting, processing and marketing company, according to the state website.

He later worked in the U.S. Foreign Service beginning in 1983 and eventually as an associate coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department. He retired in 2008.

Other top LePage officials to resign so far in the first year of the administration are former Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development Phil Congdon, former Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Darryl Brown and former Communications Director Dan Demeritt.