Dr. Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, was named on Tuesday to lead the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, made the announcement, indicating that Davis will continue to lead the NCDCM, and that both divisions will continue to operate as separate entities while government officials examine ways in which they can achieve better efficiency in operation.

Davis replaces Dr. Louis Daniel III, who resigned on Feb. 29 and has been reassigned as Environmental Program Supervisor II/Assistant Section Chief in Shellfish Sanitation for NCDMF.

“Braxton’s knowledge of state and national coastal issues, and his experience as director of our coastal management division, made him the perfect choice to lead both groups,” van der Vaart said. “His extensive background in coastal science and management will allow him to bring these two groups together in an effective and exciting way, and enhance protection of our state’s coastal and marine resources.”

Davis has been director at NCDCM for almost five years. Before joining the agency, he was policy director for South Carolina’s coastal program. He holds a doctorate in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island, a master’s degree in biological sciences from Florida International University, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia.

“I am honored by the trust placed in me to lead these two very important coastal divisions,” Davis said. “Both divisions have a long history of working collaboratively in many areas, including regulatory, research, planning, conservation, and outreach activities, and I believe this move will only strengthen the partnerships we’ve developed over the years. I look forward to continuing our collaboration, and bringing both teams together to find more ways that we can improve our work and services.

“I plan to listen to, and work closely with staff, commission members, and other interested groups – both internal and external – to identify opportunities for efficiencies and improvements,” Davis continued. “I hope to develop draft recommendations for the future of both agencies later this year.”

Davis named Mike Lopazanski, chief of the coastal division’s policy and planning section, as acting assistant director of the NCDCM. Col. Jim Kelley will continue to serve as acting assistant director of NCDMF.