The Oregon House and Senate have both approved a measure that would establish two marine reserves and begin the process of evaluating four other potential reserves. HB-3013A received overwhelming support by the state’s legislature passing the House unanimously and the Senate by a vote of 24-3. Now the marine reserves’ fate lies in the hands of Governor Ted Kulongoski.
The two pilot marine reserves established by HB-3013A are at Redfish Rocks by Port Orford and Otter Rock near Depoe Bay. Research will be the focus of the two reserves, and there will be no fishing or mining within the boundaries. HB-3013A is supported by a groups with diverse interests such as fisherman, conservationists, and coastal communities. Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) explains:
This bill represents a pivotal turning point in the long and sometimes divisive debate over marine reserves. We now have the opportunity to move forward with a process that embodies transparency, community involvement, and good science.
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. 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.
The new marine reserve system will be funded by damages from the shipwrecked New Carissa. It is hoped the new marine reserves, if approved by the governor, would help restore the fish population. It is expected Governor Kulongoski will sign this historic law, even though “the reserve system included in House Bill 3013A is smaller than originally proposed by Kulongoski”. The proposed marine reserves represent less than one percent of Oregon’s coastline.