Campus: CSU Fullerton -- April 25, 2003
Cal State Fullerton Marine Biologist Nominated
to Federal Advisory Committee
Steven N. Murray, a veteran Cal State Fullerton 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.
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans notified Murray of his nomination. The
professor of biological science is one of two Californians awaiting
confirmation of their appointments to the 30-member committee. More
than 350 nominations were considered.
The committee reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), and provides advice and recommendations to the secretaries of
commerce and the interior on marine protected areas.
“It is a real honor to be considered for this very important and
timely advisory committee,” said Murray. “Our coastal ocean
ecosystems are changing due to natural ocean cycles and to increasing
pressure from human activities. Marine protected areas are important
management tools with the potential to protect ecosystem structure and
The committee is composed of scientists, members of the academic community,
commercial and recreational fishermen, resource users and managers and
environmentalists. Members, who serve for two- or three-year terms,
will receive official notification following background checks. Their
first meeting is planned for June in Washington, D.C.
“The appointment 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
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
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
A Cal State Fullerton 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 Sea Grant and by Minerals Management Service. His recent
studies deal with examining long-term changes in marine shore populations
and communities, including how best to detect these changes using scientific
“These projects have had strong applications, and our findings
have been useful to Orange County, the Marine Institute at Dana Point,
state parks and the city of Newport Beach,” said Murray. “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.”
Another Murray project involves Caulerpa taxifolia, an invasive, green
feather-like seaweed native to Australia, also known as killer algae.
This plant was introduced into the Mediterranean Sea a few years ago.
It spread rapidly and created major changes in Mediterranean marine
This plant and other species of Caulerpa have become favorites of salt-water
aquarium enthusiasts. Caulerpa taxifolia eventually found its way into
waters near San Diego and in Huntington Harbour, where local residents
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
Two years ago, Murray’s research was used to support a bill in
the legislature that banned the sale of several species of Caulerpa,
including the killer algae, in California.
“I am pleased to offer my expertise as a coastal marine scientist
to assist the federal government in its efforts to improve the management
of our coastal seas,” said Murray. “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.”
Media Contacts: Steven N. Murray at (714) 278-7291
Dave Reid, Public Affairs, at (714) 278-4855 or email@example.com