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Oregon's coast, one step closer to sustainable management. (Photo: Oceana/Will Race)

Oregon Senate passes bill to create marine protected areas

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Thursday, February 09, 2012, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

The Oregon Senate has passed Senate Bill 1510, bringing Oregon's first network of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs) off the Oregon coast one step closer to implementation.  The bill calls on state agencies, the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, and State Land Board to implement the 2011 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recommendations for marine reserves and adjacent MPAs at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua.

“Oregon is now on the verge of building a network of marine reserves and protected areas that safeguard sensitive ocean habitats and depleted marine life”, stated Ben Enticknap, Pacific project manager with Oceana.  “These protections are essential to the future prosperity of Oregon's ocean and coastline.”

Marine reserves have proven ecological benefits inside their protective borders, as well as beyond their boundaries, as fish and wildlife spill over into adjacent areas. An ecologically significant network of marine reserves and protected areas would make the entire Oregon nearshore ecosystem more healthy and resilient to increasing pressures from overfishing, habitat damage and changing ocean conditions from global warming and ocean acidification.

“The science of marine reserves is clear”, said Enticknap. “Studies of reserves from around the world demonstrate that they increase the size, abundance and diversity of ocean life.”

Oceana has been participating in the Oregon marine reserve process for over six years and helped design the original marine reserve proposals submitted to Oregon's Ocean Policy Advisory Council in 2008, which included these three sites. The three sites in SB 1510 were carefully negotiated and championed by a diverse group of stakeholders participating on coastal community teams formed after the passage of House Bill 3013 in 2009.

“We're optimistic this important legislation will soon pass the Oregon House and head to the Governor's desk for signing”, said Whit Sheard, Pacific counsel and senior advisor with Oceana. “This bill represents some difficult compromises, but it is a critical step forward for the long-term management of our publicly held ocean resources.”

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