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Agencies look at rules for marine reserves

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2009

Public can give input at Oct. 22 session in Otter Rock

Three state agencies are involved in developing rules for establishing, studying, monitoring, and evaluating pilot marine reserves at Otter Rock north of Newport and Redfish Rocks near Port Orford.

The rules focus on what activities are allowed or not allowed in those areas, and three public sessions scheduled this month - one in Otter Rock, one in Port Orford, and one in Salem - provide a chance for folks to review and comment on the proposed rules from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL), and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). Each agency is developing its own set of rules.

The Otter Rock session is set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Inn at Otter Crest, 301 Otter Crest Drive, in Otter Rock.

Oregon House Bill 3013 requires the agencies to develop and adopt the rules per the Nov. 29, 2008 recommendations from the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC).

For DSL and OPRD, this and the two other sessions would serve as the official rulemaking hearings, the last chance for folks to provide spoken comments. ODFW officials say they would use the meetings to gather public comment on the draft rules, but their official rulemaking hearing would occur during the Dec. 11 session of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, where additional public comment is allowed.

Agency oversight

DSL manages the land at the bottom of Oregon’s Territorial Sea (extending three miles seaward from the coastline), and authorizes such uses as seafloor telecommunications cables and pipelines.

OPRD manages public recreation and natural resources from low tide areas shoreward, usually to the vegetation line. The Otter Rock marine reserve would impact the ocean shore recreation area.

“With few exceptions for things like research, removing or damaging natural materials - rocks, plants, animals, or any other natural object - would not be allowed in the rocky, northern section of Otter Rock between extreme low and mean high tide,” notes and ODFW news release. “The area would remain open to the public and pets.”

ODFW manages the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The department’s proposed rules would regulate fishing and hunting activities in marine reserves and marine protected areas, while allowing for certain uses.

Their draft rules propose no taking of any fish or wildlife species in marine reserves. They would allow retrieval and removal of crab pots and other fishing gear, scientific research, and crossing, drifting, or anchoring, and other non-extraction activities. The same no-take rules and allowances would apply to marine protected areas, but would also allow commercial and recreational salmon trolling and crabbing for Dungeness and red rock crabs.

ODFW will accept comments until Dec. 11, when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will adopt the ODFW rules.

DSL and OPRD will accept comments until Nov. 17. The State Land Board will adopt the DSL rules at the board’s Dec. 8 meeting. The Oregon Parks and Recreation commission will adopt the OPRD rules at the commission’s Jan. 28, 2010 meeting.

Written comments can go to odfw.marinereserves@state.or.us, marinereserverules@dsl.satte.or.us, or park.info@state.or.us.

More information is available at www.oregonmarineresrves.net/rulemaking/.

Leading the way

ODFW is the designated lead agency for the marine reserves process. Officials held workshops in August and September to present a draft marine reserves work plan, soliciting input from coastal community residents, the fishing industry, ocean users, elected officials, and others “to help shape the plan,” and encouraging “a collaborative involvement” in developing it.

The Oregon Marine Reserves Work Plan marks the beginning of the new phase of the overall marine reserves process restarted in 2005.

Based on recommendations from OPAC and backed by House Bill 3013, the state aims to establish two pilot marine reserves at Otter Rock near Depoe Bay and Redfish Rocks near Port Orford, and provide what legislators call “a balanced and diverse procedure” to assist in shaping four other potential marine reserve sites at 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.

Coastal legislators said the legislation represented “a pivotal turning point” in a long, divisive debate over marine reserves.

It created the foundation for a process driven by - among other things - “good science” and community involvement. And it provided a critical source of funding. The governor and the co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee included the bipartisan bill in their respective budgets, earmarking surplus settlement funds from the grounding of the New Carissa to underwrite the marine reserves effort.

In July, ODFW conducted a workshop to solicit advice from scientists and researchers about the draft work plan, which encompasses the two pilot and four evaluation sites, and covers biological, habitat, socioeconomic, and community outreach work.

The Newport workshop provided an overview of the plan and gleaned verbal and written public input. David Allen of Newport, a member of OPAC, told the News-Times the session drew a reasonably good turnout - about 50 to 60 folks - and lively participation.

ODFW officials say this working phase provides opportunities for “collaborative research and involvement, increased nearshore knowledge, and attracting nearshore research funding.” Those opportunities are limited mainly by funding and timeline.

The total marine reserves budget is $2 million, but only $1 million is guaranteed. The other $1 million allocation acts as a “placeholder” for donations and grants that ODFW can accept from outside sources, meaning availability depends on obtaining those outside donations compatible with the work plan. Funding also limits the number of ODFW staff dedicated to the marine reserves process, and the amount of research contracted out to communities, universities, fishing vessels, and others.

“Collaborating and partnering with academic researchers, the fishing industry, ocean users, private contractors, and local communities will be necessary to complete the scope of work in the work plan, but will again be limited by funding constraints,” ODFW officials noted.

ODFW must report the results of carrying out the work plan on or before Nov. 30, 2010, which severely limits time to conduct fieldwork and collect data.

Most recently, ODFW held a Sept. 22 session in Newport, focused on the community teams being forged to guide the Cape Perpetua, Cascade Head, and Cape Falcon marine reserve evaluation sites. HB 3013 specified the formation of the community teams as part of the overall work plan. Once selected, those teams - one per site - will make recommendations directly to ODFW.

Learn more

The Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association (OCZMA) meets from 9a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Spouting Horn Restaurant in Depoe Bay.

Paul Klarin, marine affairs coordinator with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and Onno Husing, OCZMA director, will provide an Oregon ocean spatial planning update. A review of HB 3013 and community teams updates are also scheduled.

The Spouting Horn is located at 110 SE Hwy 101 in Depoe Bay. The meeting is in the upstairs conference room.

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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