As Director of the NCDMF—a Division of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources—Louis Daniel says his main priority is to accomplish the Division’s mission of protecting and enhancing marine resources for the state of North Carolina.
“My job is becoming increasingly difficult as more people move to the beach and population increases,” he says. “The most challenging part is working with the competing user groups of commercial and recreational fisheries. The commercial fishers are looking for quantity, and recreational fishers are looking for quality, so you have to go down the middle.”
While his main focus is on fisheries in his home state, Daniel and his team often work with fisheries departments in Virginia. “I’m always working to collaborate and communicate with Virginia fisheries as best I can because we share a fish population,” says Daniel. “We recognize the joint water issues we have between striped bass, dogfish, flounder, and so on. We recognize that we benefit a lot from the fish that come out of Chesapeake Bay.”
As a VIMS graduate, it is almost impossible to not feel some sort of an attachment to the Bay—and Daniel is no exception, having spent countless hours collecting samples on the estuary. “My research at VIMS focused on why we weren’t seeing any baby black drum in the Bay,” he says. “I was looking at the abundance of plankton predators, and how that coincided with the spawning events of black drum.”
Daniel says he benefited greatly from the relationship he shared with his advisors while at VIMS. While he entered as a student of the late Professor of Marine Science John Olney, Daniel graduated as a student of Emeritus Professor Jack Musick due to a change in the structure of the academic program. “I gained so much from some of the discussions I had with John and Jack,” he says. “It is so important to be involved with the faculty, and I took so much away from that relationship.”