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May-28-2009 18:36printcomments

Historic Oregon Marine Reserves Bill Clears Oregon House Unanimously

HB-3013 A will implement the recommendations of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC).

Oregon coast near Depoe Bay
Oregon coast near Depoe Bay
Salem-News.com photo by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Oregon House of Representatives approved HB-3013 A on Thursday, outlining a detailed plan and timeline to complete evaluation of six potential marine reserve sites recommended by the Governor’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council.

In addition, the bill establishes two pilot marine reserve projects at Otter Rock near Depoe Bay and Redfish Rocks near Port Orford and prescribes a process to evaluate the potential for reserves in four other areas of the coast. The vote was 51-0.

"It was great to find an Oregon solution to a distinct Oregon problem. When people get together, talk openly and hammer out difficult issues, better solutions tend to come about. I am truly excited about the House Bill 3013 and its potential for the future of Oregon,” said Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) who carried the bill on the Floor today.

“This bill reflects an incredible amount of work from a diverse group of stakeholders, who put aside their differences to agree on a process that Oregon can be proud of; as we move forward the Coastal Legislators will ensure the concerns of our coastal communities are addressed” said Representative Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach).

HB-3013 A passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Rules boasting bi-partisan support. The bill outlines a balanced and diverse procedure for the planning of Oregon’s new marine reserves, including the development of regional community groups that will assist with the shaping of potential marine reserve sites: Cape Falcon north of Manzanita, Cascade Head north of Lincoln City, Cape Perpetua south of Yachats and Cape Arago-Seven Devils south of Coos Bay.

“We applaud the legislature for having the foresight to see marine reserves as an investment in sustainable ocean management,” said Susan Allen, of the Pew Environment Group, who directs the Our Ocean coalition. “This bill provides a common sense approach using the best available science. Ultimately it will better ensure our state’s ocean health by preserving underwater areas where marine plants and animals can thrive.”

“Oregon’s marine reserve debate has been long and often contentious. The collaborative effort exemplified in HB 3013A should be the model for future dialogue if we want the outcomes to truly represent the best interests of the many stakeholders involved,” said Nick Furman, Executive Director of the Dungeness Crab Commission. “We look forward to working with the state’s fisheries managers as they take on the tasks outlined for them in this piece of legislation and as responsible stewards of our territorial seas, offer our support as this process moves forward.”

“When we have problems and issues on the coast – whether it’s the severe storms or the debate over marine reserves – the Oregon Solutions approach brings neighborhood people together to find common ground,” said State Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie). “That’s just what we did with this bill.”

State Rep. Jean Cowan echoed her praise for the collaborative effort.

"I'm excited to be able to put the force of state law behind the OPAC recommendations and to begin the next steps in the ongoing development of a practical series of marine reserve designations," said Cowan (D-Newport).

HB-3013 A will implement the recommendations of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). Last fall OPAC reviewed 20 site proposals for marine reserves and protected areas that clustered around nine ecologically significant areas of the coast. OPAC recommended that six go forward for further evaluation and potential implementation.

“This bill gives us the opportunity for baseline data that will help us craft further study in this unchartered area, providing us with the science to make good policy decisions,” said State Rep. Deborah Boone (D-Canon Beach).

“Allowing fishing interests and coastal communities a role in helping identify limited areas of the coast for further research on marine reserves is a positive development for Oregon,” said Frank Warrens, a charter boat fisherman who served as Chair of the Marine Reserves Working Group of OPAC. “This bill helps ensure Oregon’s potential designation of marine reserves is scientifically based, locally supported and sensitive to recreational and commercial fisheries critical to our coastal economy.”

The Governor and the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means Committee have included this bi-partisan bill in each of their budgets, identifying surplus settlement funds to be used from the grounding of the New Carissa cargo ship. Sponsors and supporters agree that funds generated from an oil spill settlement should be used for marine science and conservation.

The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.

To find out more about Oregon’s process to establish marine reserves go to oregonmarinereserves.net




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