Lincoln City, Oregon -
11/18/2008 - Our Ocean today called the Ocean Policy Advisory Council’s (OPAC) recommendation to consider acting on proposals as marine protected areas and reserves encouraging, but stressed that the state needs to define a clear process and timeline for final action on site designations.
“Today’s nomination of six sites for further evaluation is a strong first step. But we will continue to press our case for an ecologically significant system of marine reserves and protected areas to the Governor and the State Legislature,” said Susan Allen of the Pew Environment Group, who directs the Our Ocean coalition. “Our Ocean supports a network of nine reserves and marine protected areas because we believe that’s what is needed to preserve a full set of diverse, intact ecosystems.”
OPAC received 20 proposals from the public identifying distinct ocean habitats for designation as marine protected areas and reserves. All 20 proposals identified nine ecologically important areas of the coast. They include some of the most important habitat and bio-diverse ecosystems in Oregon state waters. These were identified during almost eight-years of public process that considered science, economic impacts, public access, and the needs of a broad coalition of ocean users.
“We hoped that OPAC would forward more sites, but we are optimistic that Oregonians will join together to establish the critical protections that will help sustain our ocean resources,” Allen said.
Scientific studies from 124 marine reserves around the world show that they can bring about consistent changes in the size, diversity, and abundance of marine life living within. But these benefits can only be fully realized through a network of reserves.
Oregon is the only state on the west coast without marine reserves. “This is a significant step toward establishing marine reserves in Oregon. This effort will create the momentum to plan for the existing and future stresses on our fragile nearshore,” said Paul Englemeyer of the Audubon Society. “Oregon deserves the same protections as Washington and California in recognizing and addressing this important conservation issue.”
In a July 2008 Grove Insight poll of 500 voters statewide, 70% of Oregonians and 67% of those living in coastal counties supported the establishment of marine protected areas, including marine reserves, in our state waters.
“Our Ocean will participate in a constructive dialogue with a diverse group of stakeholders as this process moves forward to create a meaningful solution that sustains Oregon’s cultural and ecological ocean legacy,” said Allen. “We believe that OPAC’s recommendation can be improved and that more reserves and Marine Protected Areas will be included in the final product.”
Our Ocean (www.ouroregonocean.org) is a coalition of conservationists, scientists, ocean users, local leaders and business people from around the state working to preserve Oregon’s coastal legacy.