Murray Nominated to National Committee
On Marine Protected Areas
by Dave Reid
from Dateline ( January 30, 2003)
|Steven N. Murray
Steven N. Murray, a veteran marine biologist
whose research interests include human impacts on coastal marine
ecosystems, has been nominated to the newly created National Marine
Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee.
Murray was notified of the nomination in a letter
from Commerce Secretary Donald Evans. He is one of two Californians
named to the 30-member committee from more than 350 nominations.
The committee reports to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and provides advice and recommendations
to the secretaries of Commerce and the Interior on Marine Protected
“It is a real honor to be appointed to this
very important and timely advisory committee,” said Murray.
“Our coastal ocean ecosystems are changing due to natural
ocean cycles and increasing pressure from human activities. Marine
protected areas are important management tools with the potential
to protect ecosystem structure and functioning.”
The committee is composed of scientists, members of
the academic community, commercial and recreational fishermen, resource
users and managers, and environmentalists. Members, who serve two
or three-year terms, will receive official notification following
background checks. The first meeting is planned for this spring
in Washington, D.C.
“It is quite an honor for Murray, the Department
of Biological Sciences and Cal State Fullerton to have him considered
so highly from all potential candidates in California,” said
Gene Jones, chair and professor of biological sciences. “His
selection to this very significant committee shows his high standing
among his peers.”
Commerce Secretary Evans noted the importance of the
committee's role. “We look forward to strong leadership
from these individuals in helping us determine how best to continue
our efforts to balance conservation needs with commercial and recreational
interests as we move forward to protect the marine environment for
present and future generations.”
“Our coastal ocean
changing due to natural ocean cycles and increasing pressure
from human activities. Marine protected areas are important
management tools with the potential to protect ecosystem structure
The committee is supported by the NOAA National Marine
Protected Areas Center, which is charged with providing federal,
state, territorial, tribal and local governments with the information,
technologies, training and strategies to coordinate federal activities
related to marine protected areas.
A faculty member since 1971, Murray has long been
interested in the ecology of rocky shore plants and animals and
how the activities of humans have affected these organisms. To support
his studies, he has obtained three instructional and 15 research
grants worth more than $1.62 million since 1994.
Murray's research has been supported by the
University of Southern California and Minerals Management Service.
His recent studies deal with examining long-term changes in marine
shore populations and communities, including how best to detect
changes using scientific sampling procedures.
“These projects have had strong applications,
and our findings have been useful to Orange County, the Marine Institute
at Dana Point, California State Parks and the city of Newport Beach.
Our results have contributed to efforts to improve coastal management,
and particularly how to look at rocky intertidal marine protected
areas and how best to manage them,” he said.
Another Murray project involves Caulerpa taxifolia,
an invasive, green feather-like seaweed native to Australia and
known as killer algae. The plant was introduced into the Mediterranean
Sea a few years ago. It spread rapidly and created major changes
in Mediterranean marine communities.
The plant and other species of Caulerpa have become
favorites of salt-water aquarium enthusiasts. Caulerpa taxifolia
has now found its way into waters near San Diego and in Huntington
Harbor where people presumably emptied it into the sea from their
aquariums. Murray and his students have determined how many species
of Caulerpa besides C. taxifolia are being sold locally and are
investigating which of these, if introduced, might be capable of
establishing populations in Southern California waters.
Two years ago, Murray's research was used to
support a bill in the legislature that banned the sale of several
species of Caulerpa in California.
“I am pleased to offer my expertise as a coastal
marine scientist to assist the federal govern- ment in its efforts
to improve the management of our coastal seas. I am hopeful this
advisory panel will be able to make an unbiased and scientifically
sound assessment of the role that marine protected areas can play
in such a process,” Murray said.
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