Oregon Ocean Policy Council Approves Suite of Marine Reserves and Protected Areas
Press Release Date: December 8, 2010
Today marks another critical milestone in Oregon’s ongoing work to create an ecologically significant network of marine protected areas along the state’s coastline. The Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) approved three new marine reserves and some adjacent marine protected areas which were put forth by coastal community teams in mid-November. Oceana has been working with a diverse coalition, called Our Ocean, to help build an ecologically significant network of marine protected areas and marine reserves off Oregon that protect the health and biodiversity of our Pacific coastal and marine ecosystems.
“The coastal community teams all recognized the importance of full protections for areas off Oregon’s north coast, and OPAC’s confirmation puts us one step closer to ensuring that our coastal environment and economy are healthy for generations to come,” said Whit Sheard, Oceana Pacific Counsel and Senior Advisor. “This is a step in the right direction for Oregon.”
Each of the three recommended marine reserves are at the minimum size recommended by OPAC’s Scientific Technical Advisory Committee. The marine reserves total just over 3% of the Oregon Territorial Sea, with the adjacent protected areas adding an additional 5.8%. Extractive activities are prohibited in marine reserves, while protected areas include a range of measures, such as no offshore development, bottom trawling, or commercial fishing for forage fish.
“More work will be needed in the future to build an ecologically significant system of protected areas, including reserves,” said Ben Enticknap, Pacific Project Manager for Oceana. “These marine reserves and protected areas are at the minimum acceptable size and the process has yet to identify many other Important Ecological Areas.”
Over the past eleven months, Oregon’s coastal community teams reviewed these three areas and made recommendations. Three coastal community teams (Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, and Cape Perpetua) provided recommendations to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in mid November. The Port of Coos Bay is leading a team of coastal residents in the development of a marine reserve proposal in the Cape Arago area. The Ocean Policy Advisory Council and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fully approved the Cape Perpetua and Cascade Head community team recommendations but reduced the Cape Falcon marine reserve in size by 36%. They retained the overall size of the area by including a protected area allowing only salmon and crab fishing.
Following the recommendation of the community teams and now OPAC, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide a report to the legislature and make its recommendations to the Governor. Oregon’s marine reserve process was initiated a decade ago by then Governor Kitzhaber.
Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe and South and Central America. More than 500,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana. For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org.