The State Land Conservation and Development Commission will meet next Thursday January 24 in Salem to make its final decision on a new Marine Spatial Plan designed to identify and designate areas suitable for marine renewable energy development. The plan identifies four areas totaling 22.3 square miles, or roughly 2% of Oregon’s Territorial Sea, as “suitable” for marine renewable energy development. With Oregon being one of the richest temperate marine ecosystems in the world this new plan maps and identifies all of the important ecological areas off the state’s coast, setting strong ecological resource protection standards.
Important ecological areas are special places that are critical for maintaining different types of habitats and species biodiversity. All of Oregon’s offshore reefs, kelp forests, seabird colonies, estuary areas, and seal and sea lion resting and pupping areas have been identified and these areas would be presumptively excluded from offshore development.
“The State’s proposed plan strikes a critical balance between protecting important ocean habitats and planning for renewable marine energy development,” said Ben Enticknap, Pacific Project Manager for Oceana. “This marine spatial plan, if approved next week, will help lead the State and the Nation on a path toward sustainability, one that responsibly expands our energy portfolio.
After years of careful planning and public process, the Department of Land Conservation and Development is recommending four sites go forward as “Renewable Energy Facility Suitability Study Areas.” This means that the State would view these areas as “most favorable for development.” The four areas are located off the coast at:
“Given the pressures our oceans are facing from global warming, ocean acidification and habitat loss, it is more important than ever that we identify and protect important ecological areas off our coast and that we also invest and plan for renewable energy sources,” said Enticknap. “The State’s proposed marine spatial plan is the responsible way forward and the Commission should adopt it.”
The state plan identifies 74% of Oregon’s Territorial Sea as “Resources and Uses Conservation Areas” where wave energy would be incompatible. Strong ecological resource protection standards will apply for “important sensitive and unique habitats” like rocky reefs and kelp forests, plus foraging areas for whales and seabirds, and other ecological resources of concern located in these areas. The plan also identifies and protects areas important to fisheries, recreation, and scenic view sheds.
The meeting will be held at 635 Capitol St. NE, Salem in the Basement Hearing Room.
The Department of Land Conservation and Development Commission recommendations, maps and background materials are available under Agenda Item 2 at: http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/Pages/lcdc_meeting_reports_012413.aspx
Oceana’s report, Protecting the Oregon Coast: Identifying and Protecting Important Ecological Areas, describes the science and mapping strategy behind the identification of 31 important ecological areas off Oregon’s coast. The report is available at:
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 550,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.