The Oregon Senate approved legislation today that will implement two marine reserves off the Oregon coast, while continuing the study and evaluation of four additional areas. The bill, HB-3013A, will now move forward to Governor Kulongoski for signing into law.
Oceana has been working in Oregon's marine reserve process for over three years. "This is a positive step forward for the State of Oregon in establishing a policy and process for the protection of Oregon's coastal and ocean ecosystems, and it is good news that Oregon will now implement its first two marine reserves," said Ben Enticknap, Pacific Project Manager for Oceana. "But hard work remains. The next two years of study, evaluation and public process will be critical in developing an ecologically significant network of protected areas and reserves for Oregon's important ocean habitats."
The legislation establishes two marine reserves: a nearshore site at Otter Rock near Depoe Bay; and a marine reserve and protected area at Redfish Rocks near Port Orford, where abundant kelp forest, rocky reef and offshore islands create habitat for seabirds, fish and invertebrates. The legislation also defines a process to study and evaluate other proposals for future marine reserves in the Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua areas. The legislation defines a process for developing a marine reserve proposal in the Cape Arago-Seven Devils area--a unique and productive stretch of coast between Coos Bay and Bandon.
"The science is clear; managing for healthy ocean ecosystems in the 21st century and beyond requires marine spatial planning that brings science and the public to the table. Protecting important ecological areas while maintaining opportunities for sustainable ocean uses and a strong economy is essential," said Enticknap. "This includes a network of marine reserves and marine protected areas designed to maintain the health of our coastal and ocean ecosystems in the face of major changes coming down the pike, from global warming and ocean acidification to the demands of an increasing population."