PASS, Ore. (AP) -8/17/02-- After two years
of study, a state advisory panel is ready
to embark on an even longer process to
establish a network of marine preserves to
protect ocean fish habitat.
Mindful of the resistance underwater
wilderness has met in California, the
Ocean Policy Advisory Council votes Friday
on a recommendation to the governor to
move slowly and carefully toward putting a
small fraction of Oregon's territorial
waters off limits to fishing, to see how
If approved, as it likely will be, the
process will take three to five years to
hear from fishermen, environmentalists,
scientists, coastal communities and others
before establishing just how much of the
three-mile-wide strip of state waters
along Oregon's 360-mile coastline to
protect, said Bob Bailey, ocean program
"We have a lot more homework to
do," said Bailey. "No areas have
been determined. It's 360 miles of coast.
To zoom in on a more local level is just
gong to take awhile. Partly we don't have
a lot of money to do it, so we have to go
But supporters of marine reserves are
in more of a hurry, primarily because the
inshore waters controlled by the state
will see increased fishing pressure as
federal authorities push fishing boats off
the Continental Shelf to protect dwindling
populations of groundfish.
"Why not identify some relatively
non-controversial sites we can begin with,
because a lot can happen in 10
years," said Avalyn Taylor of the
Audubon Society of Portland, which is
pressing for marine reserves.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council
meets next month in Portland to set the
2003 ocean fishing seasons, and is likely
to put the bulk of the Continental Shelf
off limits to boats chasing groundfish,
which have been declared overfished. That
pushes more recreational and commercial
boats into the nearshore waters controlled
by the state.
But Oregon does not want to make the
mistake of going too fast, as California
did, and lose the trust of fishermen and
coastal communities, said Bailey. That's
why the advisory council has specifically
avoided saying how much water should be
protected in reserves.
Fishermen in Port Orford, home to a
fleet of about 30 small boats that fish
primarily on the Port Orford Reef for
groundfish, crab and other species, are
Mike "Cappy" Ashdown, skipper
of the Friendship, would be willing to
give up the stretch of coastline between
Battle Rock and Rocky Point as a marine
reserve, as long as it was used for
"It has sand bottom, mud bottom,
rock and kelp," he said recently
standing on the dock. "Everything
lives there. It could be enforced just
observing from the shoreline."
But Scott Mecum, skipper of the
Providence, is not willing to give up
anything more than he has already lost to
declining harvest quotas and markets lost
to foreign suppliers.
"There's a crab lay there at 9
fathoms," he told Ashdown. "You
going to give that up?"
"If I have to give something
up," replied Ashdown.
"We don't have to give them
anything," said Mecum.
"What they might do is take the
whole (Port Orford) reef away from
you," said Ashdown.
"If you make it too easy, they
just put it to you," said Mecum.
"It's like arguing with your
wife," said Ashdown.
"Eventually, you've got to
Pushing the whole process is the 1977
Land Conservation and Development Act,
best known for protecting farm and forest
land in Oregon and limiting urban sprawl.
But one provision known as Goal 19 calls
for sustaining marine resources by
protecting essential fish habitats.
For that reason, the process is
unlikely to be derailed, no matter who
succeeds Gov. John Kitzhaber, Bailey said.
Washington set up some marine reserves
to protect the San Juan Islands from
overfishing, and California established
some primarily for research, but until the
last few years, Oregon has not seen a
need, Bailey added.
However, there is growing evidence that
reserves would help stop the kinds of
fishery collapses seen in groundfish by
giving fish a refuge and protecting
habitat from damage from fishing gear.
The National Academy of Sciences issued
a report last March recommending federal
fisheries management councils that
regulate ocean fishing start designating
marine reserves in federal waters.
The regional councils have yet to
establish any marine reserves of their
"We think the process that has
been laid out -- the feds could benefit
from following it, too," said Bailey