It took nearly a year, but a new director has finally been named to head the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Steve Murphey, who has been with the division since 1987, took the reins Jan. 3 after a nationwide search.

According to John Nicholson, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality chief deputy secretary, Murphey’s appointment as director is a perfect fit because of his extensive experience with the division.

“Steve began his career in the Division of Marine Fisheries in 1987 as a biologist with interim service in the Division of Environmental health (1999-2010) until returning to marine fisheries in 2010, where his last position was as the section chief for habitat and enhancement,” said Nicholson. “As section chief, Steve was responsible for managing and coordinating large-scale marine and estuarine habitat restoration, management and enhancement programs to include but not limited to shellfish aquaculture and oyster enhancement and management of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.”

Nicholson says Murphey is “well positioned to lead the Division of Marine Fisheries,” given his knowledge and experience.

Prior to Murphey’s appointment, Braxton Davis had been directing both the Division of Marine Fisheries director and the Division of Coastal Management.

“We greatly appreciate Braxton’s leadership, hard work and sacrifice in overseeing two complex and multifaceted divisions,” said Nicholson. “We thank him for his dedication and perseverance and look forward to his continued contributions to the department.”

Then-Gov. Pat McCrory tabbed Davis last April to head fisheries, shortly after long-time director Louis Daniel resigned from the director’s position. Davis was already serving as director of the state’s Division of Coastal Management, a job he’s held since September 2011.

Maureen Donald is a freelance correspondent for National Fisherman.

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