Oregon has been engaged in a process to establish marine reserves since early 2008. The sportfishing industry was integrally involved in the process to ensure that recreational fishing was not unduly closed from portions of the Oregon coast.
In 2008, Oregon Governor Kulongoski sought to establish a network of ‘fewer than ten' marine reserves, also known as no-take zones, in state waters. Members of the environmental community initially proposed a series of marine reserves and marine conservation areas, which provide for some form of limited fishing access, that would place 30 percent of Oregon's waters in either a reserve or conservation area.
In June 2009, the Oregon legislature passed a bill, signed into law by the governor, that established two pilot marine reserves and four additional sites for further study. The act also requires the development of a work plan that outlines clear goals and objectives for the two marine reserves and a process for the further consideration and development of the additional sites through community action teams. Most importantly, the law says that if the state does not have adequate resources to scientifically monitor the marine reserves, then the fishing restrictions would be lifted.
In December 2010, the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council accepted and approved the recommendations on three of the evaluation sites. The approved areas include small marine reserves and some adjacent MPAs. The reserves, in which no extraction of resources is permitted, are approximately 2.5 percent of the state’s marine waters. The MPAs – which permit recreational fishing – represent approximately 3 percent of the state’s marine waters. There are extensive requirements for base line monitoring for both biological and socioeconomic impacts before the areas are put in place. For more information, please visit www.oregonocean.info/marinereserves.
The Oregon legislature convened in 2011 to designate the marine reserves and marine protected areas per the recommendations of the community action teams. ASA worked with Coastal Caucus members and the agency on draft legislation to ensure that recreational fishing remained a priority. Legislation that was strongly supported by the sportfishing community did not pass during the 2011 session as a result of other unrelated legislative issues. A new bill was introduced in the 2012 session, codifying the community groups’ recommendations. While this bill did not contain all of the comprehensive side boards of the 2011 legislation, ASA believed the bill was true to the recommendations and that matters relating to monitoring, independent funding and other relevant issues would be addressed either in rules or in a subsequent legislative session. The bill passed and has been signed into law by the Governor. Rules will be promulgated to implement the measure.
There is still an extensive work plan and implementation process remaining and ASA will remain active throughout.
The sportfishing industry’s position is that recreational fishing should not be restricted without clear scientific evidence that it is causing damage to habitat or fish populations. Access to the resource is a critical element in having successful recreational fishing. Recreational anglers and boaters have always been in the forefront of fisheries conservation in the United States, financing countless conservation and restoration projects through license fees, motorboat fuel taxes and the federal excise tax on fishing tackle. Thus, recreational fishing should be fully protected, and further promoted, in any marine reserve proposal.
At $72.4 million, Oregon earns a significant amount of state and local tax revenues from sportfishing. The goal of Oregon's sportfishing advocates and anglers is to protect the marine environment while minimizing unwarranted closures of Oregon's coastal waters to recreational fishing. The purpose of pursuing this goal is to: