Gov. Janet Mills has renominated Patrick Keliher as commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, touting his experience and qualifications as reasons for keeping him in the post.

The announcement was made Thursday morning in a statement from the governor’s office. She is also renominating Ann Head as commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation, and Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham as commissioner of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

“(Keliher, Head and Farnham) have led their departments ably, are well-respected, and their collective knowledge and decades of experience are incredible assets to our state. I look forward to working with them in the years ahead,” Mills said in the written statement.

Upon news of his reappointment, Keliher said he was proud of the progress his department has made, but said there is still work to be done, citing the need to address climate change and grow and diversify Maine’s marine economy.

Many sectors of Maine’s commercial fishing industry urged Mills to retain Keliher. The lobster industry, in particular, cited multiple regulatory changes under consideration by federal and regional authorities that could significantly affect the fishery, including measures to protect right whales and deep cuts to the herring quota, and the need for the commissioner to be up to speed on those initiatives and their potential impacts.

“I am honored to have an opportunity to work with Gov. Mills on the issues of importance to all Mainers who rely on our state’s exceptional marine resources, whether for their livelihood or for their recreational enjoyment,” said Keliher, himself an avid hunter and former charter boat operator. “I’m proud of the strides we have made here in Maine to plan for a successful and resilient future for our coastal communities.”


The news of Keliher’s renomination was warmly received by the industry Thursday, prompting what one leader called a “collective sigh of relief.”

“We are excited that Gov. Mills listened to the broad fishing industry constituency,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “The lobster industry is facing so many pressing challenges in 2019 and Commissioner Keliher is the only leader with the knowledge, temperament and political capital needed to be effective. . . . The Mills administration is off to a great start!”

Keliher said he was humbled by the fishing industry’s support. He called its participation in management decisions critical to Maine’s success.

All three commissioners served under former Gov. Paul LePage. LePage appointed Keliher in 2011 and Farnham in 2016, and LePage’s predecessor, Gov. John E. Baldacci, appointed Head in 2008. The Yarmouth resident retained her Cabinet position throughout the LePage administration. All three nominations need to be reviewed by their jurisdictional legislative committees and approved by the Maine Senate before the appointments become final.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

Twitter: PLOvertonPPH

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