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Marine reserves recommended for 3 more sites along Oregon Coast: Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua
Oregon Coast Notes - News

By Scott Learn for the Oregonian

Potential Marine ReservesOregon's efforts to establish a string of fishing-free marine reserves off its biologically rich coast surged forward this week, though not without resistance from fishermen and crabbers who worry that expanded reserves will hurt business.

After nearly a year of work, community teams reporting to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended establishing reserves in three spots: Cape Falcon south of Cannon Beach, Cascade Head near Lincoln City and Cape Perpetua near Yachats.

If approved, those three reserves would add to the state's first two: Redfish Rocks near Port Orford and Otter Rocks near Depoe Bay, scheduled to take effect next June.

Marine reserves, already up and running in Washington and California, are designed to provide a refuge for fish, increase fish populations, boost ocean research and allow scientists to gauge the effect of fishing on fish stocks.

"I guess that was a successful compromise, because I don't think there was a person in the room who walked out of there smiling," Thompson said.

Fishermen are wary of reserves, Thompson said. But they're also well aware that environmental groups could put a statewide initiative on the ballot to create them if a compromise can't be reached. With its higher voting numbers, that would give the Portland area more say than coastal communities in the creation of reserves.

Reserves allow boating and research, but they bar fishing, crabbing, hunting, pipelines, telecommunications cables and industrial activity such as wave and wind energy. Less-restrictive protected areas generally allow some fishing and crabbing but not bottom trawling, seen as most destructive of habitat.

All told, the new reserves and protected areas would take up less than 10 percent of Oregon's territorial sea, a three-mile-wide strip along the 360-mile coast. That's well short of the 14 percent reserve proposal floated in 2008 by ocean conservation groups.

But Ben Enticknap, Pacific project manager for the conservation group Oceana, said the three proposed reserves meet minimum scientific requirements for size, and would cover key habitats, including reefs, kelp forests, rocky bottoms and sandy bottoms.

"These were all really hard conversations, and in the end (the teams) made recommendations that will help build Oregon's system of marine reserves," Enticknap said. "I'm impressed by how people kept an open mind and listened to the science."

The Port of Coos Bay is conducting a separate evaluation of a potential marine reserve in the Cape Arago-Seven Devils area.

ODFW will evaluate the teams' recommendations for Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua, consult with the Ocean Policy Advisory Council, then make recommendations to the governor's office.

Gov.-elect John Kitzhaber, who initiated Oregon's marine reserve process a decade ago during his first gubernatorial stint, is expected to put the three new reserve areas before the Legislature next year for designation and funding.

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