Great news! Today the Oregon House passed a bill making Oregon’s first network of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs). The bill, which Oceana has been actively supporting, now goes to the governor’s desk for a signature.
The bill calls on state agencies, the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, and State Land Board to create marine reserves and adjacent MPAs at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua.
The three new marine reserves and MPAs add 109 square miles (70,000 acres) to the already designated 9 square miles of area at Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock. All areas combined total less than 10 percent of Oregon’s Territorial Sea; leaving the vast majority of Oregon’s Pacific waters open to fishing and development. The marine reserves will be ‘no-take’ and the MPAs will allow activities like fishing for Dungeness crab and salmon, while prohibiting bottom trawling, the harvest of forage fish, and offshore development.
Marine reserves have positive ecological benefits inside and outside of their protective boundaries, as fish and wildlife populations increase and then spill over into adjacent areas.
“This is a great first step in protecting sensitive and important ecological areas off our coasts,” said Whit Sheard, Pacific counsel and senior advisor with Oceana. “This bill represents some difficult compromises, but it is a critical step forward for the long-term management of our publicly held ocean resources.”
Oceana will continue to work with regional managers and local communities to ensure the future well-being of the Pacific Ocean off Oregon and its wildlife.
Today the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 1510, which brings Oregon’s first network of marine reserves and marine protected areas off the Oregon coast one step closer to implementation.
An ecologically significant network of marine reserves and protected areas would make the entire Oregon near-shore ecosystem more healthy and resilient to increasing pressures from overfishing, habitat damage, and changing ocean conditions from global warming and ocean acidification.
The bill will now have to pass the House before heading to the Governor’s desk for signing. If it does, Oregon’s marine reserve and protected area sites will total 118 square miles and make up less than 10 percent of the Pacific Ocean waters in the state’s jurisdiction. (See a map here.) We see this as a great start, but we hope Oregon will continue to identify all of its important ecological areas and ultimately build an ecologically significant network of protected areas and reserves for the full coast.
As a part of European Maritime Day, today Oceana’s team in the Baltic released some initial findings from the ongoing expedition. They presented guidelines for the protection of the Baltic Sea, including rules for sustainable fisheries management, habitat protection and ending harmful fishing subsidies.
The expedition team has been documenting the incredible biodiversity of the Baltic; check out the latest photos - from beautiful nudibranchs to grey seals to a dead jellyfish in the oxygen-deprived bottom of the deepest part of the Baltic:
These photos reveal the impact of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices on the Baltic, but they also show areas with healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, providing a window into what the Baltic Sea could look like if Marine Protected Areas are expanded and well-protected, and if laws and regulations are fully enforced.
Studies have shown that such enhanced protection measures and more stringent management of fish resources would benefit fishermen and local communities dependent on fisheries, as well as at-risk ecosystems.
Stay tuned for more from our team in the Baltic!
This is the sixth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
At age four, Dirk Rosen’s mother taught him to fish. At age 10, he learned to dive for abalone. In college, he earned his tuition teaching scuba diving.
Guided by this lifelong love of the ocean, Dirk has spent his career applying his expertise with robotic submarines to protect deep-sea marine ecosystems.
Working in and around deepwater environments (2000+ feet deep), Dirk discovered an urgent need to develop more accurate fish and habitat assessments in order to sustainably manage marine resources. In 2003, he founded Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE), a non-profit research organization, to collect deepwater data on marine ecosystems using state-of-the-art technical tools.
Last week, in a culmination of several years of work, our European colleagues presented a proposal to protect 15% of the marine area around Spain’s Canary Islands. If the proposal is accepted, it would multiply the current protected area by 100.
Here’s the back story: In 2009 the Oceana Ranger, our research catamaran, sailed to the Canaries, which are off the coast of Morocco. Over the course of two months, the crew documented the seamounts and seabeds of the archipelago, and found a dozen species never before seen in the area, and filmed many rare species, including three-foot-tall glass sponges, Venus fly-trap anemones and lollipop sponges. (For more on the Canaries see this piece from our magazine last winter.)
On Sunday Oceana and the National Geographic Society, in an unprecedented collaboration with the Chilean Navy, launched a scientific expedition to the waters that surround Chile’s Sala y Gómez Island and Easter Island.
The expedition comes after a preliminary trip by Oceana and National Geographic last March. The results of that initial journey, as you may recall, led the Chilean government to create a no-take marine reserve, Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park, around Sala y Gómez. At 150,000 square kilometers, the park increases Chile’s protected marine areas from 0.03% to 4.4%.
The scientific results of this expedition will be crucial in monitoring the new marine park, and the scientists will assess the health of the waters surrounding Easter Island to determine the need for new conservation measures. Easter Island’s EEZ includes currently unprotect underwater mountains.
Listen up, Oregonian ocean lovers (and non-Oregonians, too!) Right now we have a chance to create a system of marine reserves and protected areas off Oregon’s coast, and we need your help!
Oregon’s Marine Reserve Community Teams are working to plan marine reserves and protected areas at Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua, and Cape Falcon, and alternative proposals are being considered in the Cape Arago region.
These marine reserves and protected areas will leave 93% of Oregon's oceans open to current activities while creating sanctuaries where marine life and habitats can flourish. Marine reserves will bolster the local economy while protecting Oregon’s marine resources from habitat destruction and overfishing.
They need to hear from you by the end of November, so speak up today!
California’s Parks System faced collapse last year and the picture for the coming years looks grim.
Enter Proposition 21, a statewide ballot initiative that offers hope to help ensure our 278 state parks and beaches stay up and running and our wildlife and marine resources are protected. Prop 21 establishes a stable, reliable and adequate funding source through an $18 increase in the California vehicle registration fee. These funds will be directly deposited into a State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund and can only be used for operation of state parks and protection of ocean resources and wildlife.