From the Director’s Desk Welcome to the inaugural issue of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Insight. I’m Steve Murphey and I have the privilege and honor to serve as the director for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries which is housed in the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The intent of this periodic online newsletter is to provide timely and concise information so that you, as a recreational or commercial fisherman, environmentalist, seafood consumer, bather or just concerned citizen, can gain a deeper and accurate understanding of the sometimes complex and challenging issues facing our marine and estuarine resources. In this issue, we will introduce a basic tenet of fisheries management, the stock assessment, and how that instrument is used with state managed species to develop sound fisheries management recommendations to our rule making body, the Marine Fisheries Commission. More specifically, we will discuss the new, in-person, peer review process. We will also provide an update on southern flounder, an important recreational and commercial species. We will delve into one of the more misunderstood aspects of oyster aquaculture; the use of triploid oysters. Next, some timely information on regulations you need to be aware of out on the water. Finally, we will use the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Insight to spotlight individual employees and programs in the coming months. What is the Division of Marine Fisheries: The Division of Marine Fisheries is composed of ten programmatic and support sections with over 300 full time and part time employees. The division’s headquarters is in Morehead City, with offices in Wilmington, Washington, Elizabeth City, Manteo, an annex office in Morehead City and even a seafood inspector in the central and western portion of the state. The programmatic sections include Fisheries Management, Marine Patrol, Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality, License and Statistics, Habitat and Enhancement and Protected Resources. The support sections are equally important and support the rest of the division in their day-to-day activities and include the Administrative Services Office, Maintenance Services, and Information Technology Department support staff on-site. Future issues will explore various sections and the programs they contain. Role of the Division of Marine Fisheries in Fisheries Management: The role of the division in fisheries management is divided between state managed species, such as southern flounder, blue crab and shrimp, and species managed by federal councils and interstate commissions. For state managed species, the division collects data, develops stock assessments and a fishery management plan or amendment. Along with citizen advisory committees, the division provides science based management recommendations to the Marine Fisheries Commission which then adopts or amends those recommendations for management. The approved management measures of the plan are then put in place by rule or proclamation. For interstate managed species, the Marine Fisheries Commission advises the division on management plans and issues developed under regional councils or by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Future issues will discuss the role of the division in these bodies. I encourage you to explore the topics in the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Insight and hope that they add to your understanding of the division’s efforts to ensure sustainable marine and estuarine fisheries and habitats for the benefit and health of the people of North Carolina. Thank you all and stay safe out on the water.