Oregon Advances Implementation of Marine Reserves
State Fish and Wildlife Commission and Land Board approve regulations for marine reserve designation
Press Release Date: December 14, 2009
Location: Salem, OR
The Oregon State Land Board and Fish and Wildlife Commission passed regulations last week for the first two marine reserves off the Oregon Coast, one at Otter Rock near Depoe Bay and another at Redfish Rocks near Port Orford, and a marine protected area (MPA) adjacent to the Redfish Rocks marine reserve. The Department of State Lands has authority over activities affecting the seafloor in these areas.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Commission adopted state fishing regulations for these areas, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to take commensurate action on January 28, 2010. ODFW and Oregon Parks rules will go into effect June 30, 2011 while baseline research is conducted in the marine reserve and protected area sites.
“The actions by the State Land Board and Fish and Wildlife Commission are an important step forward in the establishment of Oregon’s first marine reserves,” said Ben Enticknap, Pacific Project Manager of Oceana.
“Climate change, ocean acidification and a host of threats from over-exploitation to pollution all threaten the long-term health of Oregon’s coastal and ocean ecosystems,” said Enticknap. “Building a network of marine protected areas and reserves today will help protect natural habitats, marine life and the resilience of the ecosystem in the face of tomorrow’s ecological changes and growing resource demands.”
Conservation groups will continue to work to advance implementation of four other legislatively identified sites at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua to Heceta Head, and the Cape Arago-Seven Devils area.
“Ultimately we hope to see an ecologically significant network of marine protected areas, including reserves, off the Oregon coast that protects biological diversity, sensitive marine habitats, and maintains opportunities for a vibrant Oregon economy,” said Enticknap.
In June 2009, the Oregon Legislature passed HB-3013A, designed to implement two marine reserves off the Oregon coast, totaling less than one percent of the Oregon Territorial Sea, and establishing a process for further study and evaluation of the four other sites recommended by Governor Kulongoski’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council. Oceana and coalition partners originally proposed eight marine protected areas to provide for coastwide protection of critical habitats, nursing grounds, feeding spots and other Important Ecological Areas.
Conservation groups are encouraged that the State is moving forward to protect precious kelp forests, productive rocky reefs, and offshore island habitats which are home to a variety of seabirds, fish, and invertebrates.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the State and communities in building an ecologically significant network of protected areas that maintains the health of our oceans and the economies of our coastal communities,” said Enticknap.