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Report: Protect More Areas of OR Coastline

September 3, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - As people head to the Oregon coast for Labor Day weekend, a new report suggests the state could be doing more to protect the coastal waters and the fish and wildlife that inhabit them. Oregon agencies and task forces have been hard at work on plans for managing the ocean resources directly offshore. But a new report says the state is using only one tool by developing marine reserves, and may be ignoring other sensitive parts of the coastal waters in the planning process.

Ben Enticknap, Pacific project manager for Oceana, says the report identifies 31 sites as "Important Ecological Areas" along the 360-mile Oregon coastline. It also spells out the activities in and around those areas that make protection important.

"Dumping, dredge spill materials, setting fiber-optic cables, major shipping, commercial fishing - it's time that we move beyond the Wild West mentality. Our ocean has been treated like the last frontier for way too long."

Enticknap says Oceana supports designating marine reserves and has been active in that process. It also has voiced concerns that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) removed some areas along the coast from the discussion, including well-known places like Otter Rock, Three Arch Rocks and Tillamook Head.

"We would be okay with having conversations about other types of protections for those places; they don't all have to be marine reserves. That's one of the points that's been missed by the state, as we've focused on one tool and not the range of tools to protect the whole ocean."

ODFW has said the areas have other significant commercial or recreational uses that don't make them suitable as marine reserves.

According to Enticknap, much of Oregon's underwater environment hasn't even been mapped. The report suggests the sensitive areas need to be identified using scientific methods so they can be adequately protected as part of any planning process. It also notes more than 30 species on the coast are listed as threatened or endangered.

The full report is available at http://na.oceana.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR