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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - nr-09-2016 Murphey

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: Feb. 8, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

New Habitat and Enhancement Section chief
has great vision for the future

MOREHEAD CITY — When Steve Murphey took over leadership of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Habitat and Enhancement Section in June, he had a clear vision of where he wanted the section to go.

“I wanted to expand our cultch planting ability and get a little outside the box with new and innovative approaches to habitat enhancement and shellfish leasing” said Murphey, who took the place of former section chief Craig Hardy, when Hardy retired in February 2015.

Cultch planting involves strategically placing shells and rock to enhance shellfish habitat in potentially productive shellfish areas. Oysters, clams and other aquatic life are attracted to the cultch and immediately begin to colonize on the material.
“This next season, we’re going to see a greatly expanded cultch planting program and a more aggressive and systematic approach to artificial reef and sanctuary development. We’re making some common sense changes in the shellfish lease program to make it more user-friendly, we’ve submitted proposals to quantify strategic habitat areas, and we’re going to be more efficient in our field operations.” Murphey said.

The Shellfish Rehabilitation Program received $300,000 for cultch planting this year, which will allow more planting in southern waters of the state that have seen heavy fishing pressure in the past several years.

Murphey’s section also supports the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, whose expert staff will work closely with the Artificial Reef and Oyster Sanctuary programs in the assessment and long-term monitoring of the reefs.

Murphey has also implemented a pre-application site inspection for the shellfish lease program that allows staff to identify possible roadblocks to approval of the site, such as the presence of submerged aquatic vegetation. Staff can suggest alternatives if needed before the applicant sends in a non-refundable $200 application fee. This new approach could decrease the number of site visits staff needs to take, which would save time and money in travel expense, Murphey said.

His staff will be looking for a number of ways they can combine efforts to be more efficient.

“What I love about this section, and the whole reason I wanted to come back over here, is that this section produces a product that, at the end of the day, you can see,” Murphey said. “We go out and make the environment better.”

Murphey began his career at the N.C. Division of Marine Fishers in 1987 and holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

A photo of Murphey can be downloaded at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/012916-steve-murphey-photo.

You can contact Murphey Steve for an interview at 252-808-8046 or Steve.Murphey@ncdenr.gov.

nr-09-2016

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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