The Oregon Legislature on Tuesday approved an expansion of the state's small system of marine reserves to research how they may help better...
The Oregon Legislature on Tuesday approved an expansion of the state’s small system of marine reserves to research how they may help better manage commercial fisheries.
After a brief debate, the House voted 57-2 to pass the bill creating three new marine reserves in state waters extending three miles from the coast, for a total of five.
The governor has said he would sign it.
The legislation ends more than a decade of fighting among commercial fishermen, conservation groups and coastal communities over whether closing some areas to fishing would make marine environments stronger, or make things harder for coastal economies. California and Washington have both established networks of reserves.
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Members of the Coastal Caucus urged passage of the bill, despite more than a decade of bitter fighting to defend their economies from potential losses from restrictions on commercial fishing.
“Only through real science will we be better able to manage commercial fishing,” said Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, before voting in favor of the bill. He added in an interview that he was concerned there was not enough money to do the research properly.
Funded by $1.6 million in lottery money, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will spend two years gathering baseline data on marine populations, as well as social and economic impacts on coastal communities, before restrictions go into effect. They will continue to monitor biological and socio-economic information.
The new marine reserves and protected areas are off Cape Perpetua, Cape Falcon and Cascade Head. The whole system covers 5 percent of state waters.
The reserves are made up of core areas where no fishing, crabbing, wave energy or mineral extraction will be allowed. They are surrounded by areas where trolling and crab pots are allowed. Bottom trawling already is relegated to deeper waters farther offshore by federal fishing regulations.