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Efforts continue to map fishing areas

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 29th, 2009




Efforts to accurately map prime fishing grounds along the Oregon coast is gaining grudging acceptance.

But lingering questions and concerns about the process and protection of proprietary information has many folks holding back before they decide if and how to wade into the endeavor.

Oregon Sea Grant has scheduled an educational public seminar in Newport to help potential participants make informed decisions about what’s known as “fishing effort mapping.” A three-person panel will focus on the type, levels, and uses (locally and nationally) of information sought through the mapping effort; how to glean the information and from whom; how best to share the information gleaned and with whom; and how to maintain and update the maps and determine their on-going uses.

Kaety Hildenbrand, a Sea Grant marine fisheries educator based in Newport, and Flaxen Conway, a Corvallis-based Sea Grant community outreach specialist, say coastal folks want to hear from “independent, knowledgeable people who have been involved in mapping efforts elsewhere.”

“Specifically, they want to better understand all the potential needs, optimal methods, levels of data that are gathered and shared, and their role in current and future decisions around these maps and on-going uses,” Hildenbrand noted.

Scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the Newport Shilo Inn (536 SW Elizabeth St.), the seminar features David Buetel, a fisheries extension specialist from the Rhode Island Sea Grant program; Carrie Pomeroy, a marine advisor with the California Sea Grant program; and Ed Backus, vice president of the fisheries program for Portland-based Ecotrust. Buetel is directly involved with East Coast fishing effort mapping. Pomeroy has evaluated mapping efforts on the West Coast.

Ecotrust is the organization contracted to do the current pilot study of mapping for Oregon. Backus is directly involved in the effort.



Reaching out

Sea Grant and the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association (OCZMA) have taken on the task of public outreach, launching separate efforts to involve fishing interests directly in the process. They have focused primarily on local user groups organized in principal fishing ports, among them Lincoln County’s Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy (FINE), the Fishermen’s Advisory Committee for Tillamook (FACT), and the Southern Oregon Ocean Advisory Committee (SOORC).

FINE and FACT are advisory committees to their respective county commissions. A group of fishing industry leaders formed SOORC in January to work with Ecotrust on the pilot mapping study.

Getting fishermen to disclose proprietary information on fishing ground locations - even in a general sense - is at best a difficult task. But protecting prime fishing areas from encroachment by wave energy facilities and other proposed new ocean uses, while maintaining the confidentiality of the needed information, is at the heart of the spatial mapping effort. And it’s all part of the larger attempt to revise Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan (TSP).

In an ever-evolving ocean use climate, doing what it takes to develop an ocean plan to handle the demands of competing uses is vital, says OCZMA Director Onno Husing.

“They (SOORC) are ready to do this to protect their fishing grounds from being swallowed up by wave energy facilities and other new proposed uses of the ocean,” Husing told the News-Times in March.

OCZMA is administering the SOORC project under a contract with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). Ecotrust is conducting confidential interviews with fishermen - facilitated through SOORC - with careful attention to data security. Husing said OCZMA is working with SOORC and FINE ‘to determine what level of aggregate fishing grounds information” to release to the public and the state’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC), which is simultaneously preparing the amendment to the TSP through it TSP Working Group.

In an October 2006 memo discussing the amendment process, Paul Klarin, a coastal policy analyst with DLCD, estimated it would take 9 to 12 months to complete a coastwide mapping effort. The deadline stipulated in the EO to have the TSP amendment ready for LCDC review is December 2009.

“The data collected by state and federal agencies through commercial fisheries licensing and regulation, while useful, is neither adequate nor specific enough to provide a comprehensive map of fishing effort,” Klarin noted. “The data must be collected with the direct contribution of the commercial and sport fishing community members.”

That’s what the SOORC-supported pilot study is trying to do. It also aims to show that it can divulge just enough information to simultaneously protect fishing grounds and fishermen’s confidentiality.

Friday’s seminar aims to explain why and how. To find out more, contact Hildenbrand at 574-6537, ext. 27, or Conway at (541) 737-1418.



Terry Dillman is the assistant editor of the News-Times. Contact him at (541) 265-8571, ext 225, or terrydillman@newportnewstimes.com.

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