GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Former New Bedford mayor John Bullard is the new leader of the Northeast region’s federal fisheries office.

The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries branch, Sam Rauch, made the announcement Monday.

Bullard replaces Patricia Kurkul, who retired from the Gloucester-based position in December.

Bullard takes over at a tough time for fishermen, who’ve absorbed steep cuts in how much they can catch this year and face huge reductions next year. Some fishermen believe faulty federal science and convoluted rules are ruining the industry.

Rauch said Bullard has a history of bringing together people with different views, and that “will serve him well.”

Bullard was New Bedford’s mayor from 1986 to 1992. He most recently led the Sea Education Association, which takes students to sea to teach about its science and culture.

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