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Oregon is “Fishing for Input” about Marine Reserves

February 22, 2008

Netarts, OR – From the coastline to three miles out, the ocean belongs to the state, and Oregon is trying to decide how to protect it. A series of meetings is underway in coastal towns to discuss the creation of marine reserves. Also called "marine protected areas," they're off-limits to fishing to give native species a break.

California has had a reserve system for five years, and Fish and Game authorities there say fish appear to be thriving.

In Oregon waters, rockfish are among the species that could benefit. Jim Carlson, a business owner and former commercial fisherman from Netarts, sees reserves as a way to ensure better fishing seasons in the future.

"My hope is that a system of marine reserves, as well as other management tools, would help bring back those stocks, so that our fishermen here on the Oregon coast can continue to earn a good livelihood."

Input from the meetings will be used to create recommendations for whether, and where, to designate marine reserves. Tonight's meeting is in Florence; next week's meetings are scheduled in Reedsport, Harbor, Port Orford and Warrenton.

Jim Carlson has attended some of the meetings. He says they're drawing good crowds, and people have a lot of questions.

"They want to know where the reserves are going to be, how large they're going to be and when it's all going to happen. And of course, we're just at the first part of the process now, so a lot of those questions are hard to answer."

The meetings are being hosted by Oregon Sea Grant (the Oregon State University marine research and outreach program) and the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council. A list of meeting times and places is available at
www.seagrant.oregonstate.edu; click on "OSG News."

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR