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Whose ocean is this?

Posted: Friday, Apr 2nd, 2010

Since the state formally set a goal to conserve marine resources, a number of groups are meeting to address current local concerns. Siuslaw News file photo

Marine issues were the topic at Siuslaw Watershed Council’s Ocean Issues Forum held March 31 at the Florence Events Center, featuring six presenters who discussed marine reserves and marine spatial mapping for the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan.

Liz Vollmer–Buhl, watershed council coordinator and executive director, moderated the third annual informational forum, titled “Exploring Diverse Perspectives on Marine Issues,” Wednesday evening.

“Our goal (for the forum) is not to take a stand as the watershed council on these issues, but rather provide watershed residents with the tools and information to make informed decisions on issues that impact our watershed

council and the neighboring nearshore ocean,” Vollmer–Buhl said.

Marine Reserves

Last year Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife selected several local residents to join one of three community teams that will evaluate proposed marine reserves sites along the coast.

Community teams for potential sites at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua — composed of two representatives and two alternates from eight stakeholder groups — were formed, with regard to Oregon House Bill 3013 requirements.

The bill, which was passed in May 2009 by the Oregon Legislature, directs state agencies to implement the Ocean Policy Advisory Council’s 2008 recommendations on marine reserves.

Commercial fisherman Al Pazar was selected to co-chair the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserves Community Team, which includes representatives from Florence, Yachats, Mapleton and other cities within the proposed marine reserves area.

“We have a really good team. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made so far,” Pazar said. “We’re still a long ways apart; we have a lot of diverse stakeholders.”

According to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the purpose of the community teams is to make final recommendations for the proposed marine reserves sites. Pazar said small commercial fishermen operations, not industrial or corporate trawlers, would be most affected by the closing of coastal waters.

“From a fisherman’s perspective, we need to make the reserve or MPA (Marine Protected Area) large enough to satisfy the science and conservation committees, yet small enough that we can live with,” he said.

The next Cape Perpetua Marine Reserves Community Team meeting will be held Monday, April 12, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue fire hall in Florence. The meeting is open to the public.

Territorial Sea Plan

Through a multi-year public process, the Territorial Sea Plan was created in the early 1990s after the Oregon Legislature requested a plan to manage marine resources within the state’s three-mile territorial sea.

The plan established standards to balance competing ocean uses, while prioritizing the protection of renewable marine resources over non-renewable.

“Some of the work that we’re doing to inform the Territorial Sea planning process is largely around working with fishing communities, incorporating their knowledge and mapping it out,” said Charles Steinback, Ecotrust director of marine planning.

Ecotrust, a Portland-based organization, intends to compile Oregon’s first comprehensive map that illustrates both commercial and recreational fishing use patterns and values along the entire coast.

Last November Ecotrust researchers began interviewing local fishermen, gathering information about marine areas of economic value in relation to existing or prospective alternative ocean uses.

Steinback said spatial planning frameworks can protect sensitive marine ecosystems, and Ecotrust plans to incorporate the fishermen’s knowledge into the planning process to help analyze these areas.

Interviews with Florence area fishermen will be conducted between now and July.

Goal 19, one of 19 statewide land use planning goals in Oregon, was also discussed at the forum. The goal was created to conserve marine resources and ecological functions for the purpose of providing long-term benefits to future generations.

Andy Lanier, coastal permit specialist for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, said Goal 19 is the “founding goal for how the state program uses the Territorial Sea Plan to decide what functions and things we’re going to put as higher priorities over others.”

Lanier said the challenge is getting all the ocean stakeholders together to agree on marine issues.

“The interface between the ocean and our shore is quite heavily used,” he said. “There’s a lot of activity going on.”

Other forum presenters included Anna Pakenham of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nick Furman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission and Pete Stauffer of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization that works to protect the ocean, waves and beaches.

Following the presentations, speakers answered formally submitted audience questions in a moderated panel discussion.

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