Marine Reserve Coming to Coast Near You

Between climate change, pollution and resource depletion, the coastal areas have a lot to plan for. Oregon is preparing for these challenges by establishing five small marine reserves to preserve habitat and to monitor ecological and biological changes. Cape Perpetua south of Yachats is the closest marine reserve to Eugene. Conservationists are hoping that the marine reserves will help keep populations of fish and other species within the reserve high and potentially keep surrounding populations buoyed via a spillover effect.

Panelists at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference discussed the reserves March 2 at UO. Harvest restrictions at Cape Perpetua will go into effect in 2014, said Laura Schmidt of Our Ocean, and in addition to the marine reserve, there will be marine and seabird protection areas for “extra layers of protection to help buffer the area.” The marine reserve will be about 23 square miles with adjacent seabird and marine protections.

Paul Engelmeyer, sanctuary manager at Tenmile Creek, said that the marine reserve will probably increase the biomass and diversity of the Cape Perpetua area when it goes into effect. Gus Gates of the Surfrider Foundation said that the data gathered at the Oregon marine reserves will be important for more than just Oregon’s planning process. “We probably know more about some of our offshore waters than we do about some of our nearshore waters.”

Reserves at Otter Rock and Redfish Rocks have already been established; reserves at Cape Falcon and Cascade Head are scheduled for 2014.