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Oregon Works to Protect Ocean ‘Acreage’

June 6, 2008

Salem, OR – This weekend, "World Oceans Day" calls attention to the fact that 70 percent of the earth is covered by water - and some say we should be doing more to protect it, in much the same ways as wilderness or national parks protect land and wildlife.

It's an issue Oregon is already working on. Starting July 1, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ocean Policy Advisory Council will take site nominations for marine reserves within three miles of the coastline. These would be areas where fishing and recreation are restricted, to allow a break for fish and their habitat. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury says no more than ten sites will be selected.

"We really ought to set aside some areas, because it's an incredibly complex ecosystem that we shouldn't just hammer all the time. We should let some parts of it be, so that it can continue to provide good health and good resources."

The nomination process is the culmination of about five years of planning and public meetings. Bradbury says at times it has been contentious, because the commercial fishing industry sees the idea as another way to curtail its profits.

"It's critical that any process that's going to move forward has to be respectful of the users of ocean resources; and the users need to be respectful of the need to protect some of the ocean, to keep it in a natural ecosystem state."

Washington and California already have state marine reserve systems, and Bradbury says Governor Kulongoski supports the idea.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR