The Nearshore Strategy describes key nearshore resources and habitats, and highlights issues that may adversely affect them and the human uses that rely on them. Consideration of the conservation requirements of nearshore species, the related issues, and how they should be addressed leads to the core of the Nearshore Strategy: opportunities for action that can be taken to improve the status and sustainability of nearshore species and habitats. Recommendations presented in the Nearshore Strategy outline actions by which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) can better ensure the sustainability of nearshore marine fish, wildlife and habitats. These recommendations support the department’s mission of protecting and enhancing Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.
A variety of human activities affecting nearshore resources was identified by participants in the development the Nearshore Strategy, and many of these lie outside ODFW’s sole jurisdiction and require coordinated analysis and action to address. Sixteen recommended ODFW actions are presented in the Nearshore Strategy. They are grouped into three general categories: Education and Outreach, Research and Monitoring, and Management and Policy. These specific recommendations have been chosen because they address priority nearshore issues that are in need of immediate or timely attention, are feasible to implement given appropriate funding, and have received some level of public support.
Education and Outreach Recommendations
(1) Marine Resources Program web site
Improve the appearance, visibility and effectiveness of the ODFW Marine Resources Program (MRP) web site by:
- Expanding opportunities on the web site for disseminating information to user groups, such as the current recreational groundfish harvest cap tracking web page.
- Making educational materials such as fish identification guides, information on species biology, and a page geared to children’s interests readily available.
- Providing information about current ODFW research projects and how the results are used.
- Posting upcoming or in-season commercial and recreational fishing rules and regulations for species managed by ODFW. Ensure this information is easy to find.
- Providing clear links to web sites with related information such as federal commercial fishery regulations.
(2) Nearshore Advisory Committee
Form a nearshore advisory committee to provide advice on, and assistance with, implementing the Nearshore Strategy, and conducting regular reviews and updates.
(3) Media Coverage
Increase and expand development of materials supporting media coverage of nearshore marine resource topics.
(4) Communication Partnerships
Develop new, and expand existing partnerships for communication, education and outreach on nearshore topics and issues. Work with partners including state agencies, local governments, private groups, Oregon Tourism Commission, watershed councils, soil and water conservation districts, and others to develop new mechanisms for information dissemination.
Research and Monitoring Recommendations
The Marine Resources Program currently conducts research and monitoring activities, but these efforts need to be expanded to meet the data needs of current and future management programs. This is especially true in the nearshore area where managers lack adequate information on many harvested and non-harvested species and their habitats. The recommendations that follow address the most important improvements needed by the MRP’s research and monitoring programs.
(5) Nearshore Research and Monitoring Capabilities
Improve and expand the capabilities of research and monitoring programs for nearshore living marine resources to meet the requirements of the Native Fish Conservation Policy and other nearshore resource management programs. Use the Strategy Species and Watch Lists to identify priority species for research and monitoring. Collaboration among agencies, universities, fishing industry sectors and the public will be required to meet the needs for expanded research and monitoring.
(6) Assessment/Indicator Strategies for Nearshore Species
Develop stock assessment and/or stock status indicator strategies for priority nearshore groundfish and shellfish species. A stock assessment is a detailed analysis of population and biological data to estimate the size of a population of animals and whether it is increasing or decreasing. Stock status indicators are periodically collected information on some population characteristic that could indicate a change in the population size over time. Both types of information are essential to developing management measures for organisms, especially harvested species. Species in greatest need of population status monitoring will be the focus for developing assessment and indicator strategies. Marine species should be included in the Native Fish Stock Status Report as information is available.
(7) Nearshore Habitat Research and Monitoring
Map and characterize nearshore rocky reefs, and determine species-habitat associations. Use the information to improve stock assessments and provide information for management.
(8) Marine Mammal-Fisheries Interaction Research and Monitoring
Identify and evaluate conflicts between marine mammals, fisheries and fish resources in coastal rivers, bays and the nearshore ocean. Identify the most important of such conflicts and, as funding allows, conduct studies to estimate the significance of the interaction to both the fishery/fish resource and the marine mammal species involved. Develop information on marine mammal food habits and foraging behaviors in the coastal zone.
(9) Socioeconomic Research and Monitoring for the Oregon Coast
Sponsor socioeconomic analyses for the Oregon coast including coastal community demographic trends and economic and social contributions of industries that depend on nearshore resources directly (e.g., fishing) or indirectly (e.g., tourism). This effort also may include, as necessary, assessments of the economic costs to sport and commercial fisheries caused by conflicts with marine mammals (e.g., loss of catch and gear to pinnipeds). Socioeconomic factors most useful to managers for planning or developing alternative management actions should be identified and monitored to obtain information on trends in coastal economies and the impacts of regulatory and other management changes.
(10) Monitor Nearshore Strategy Action Effectiveness
Monitor effectiveness of implemented Nearshore Strategy actions.
Management and Policy Recommendations
Management and policy needs were articulated frequently during development of the Nearshore Strategy. There are many tools for conservation and management including planning efforts such as the conservation plans through which the Native Fish Conservation Policy is implemented; management measures including harvest restrictions based on numbers, weight, size of fish, season and area; environmental review and permitting processes; other spatial management tools regulating human activities in designated areas; voluntary options including incentives for desired behavior (such as reduced habitat damage from various activities or reduced bycatch rates in fisheries); and others. The recommendations in this section address priority nearshore issues and species using a variety of non-regulatory tools. Implementation of some of these actions eventually may require rule-making action (e.g. on revisions to state fishery management plans) by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
(11) Native Fish Conservation Policy – Conservation Plans
Review the Nearshore Strategy Species list to identify priority species in need of conservation plans under Oregon’s Native Fish Conservation Policy.
(12) Commercial Nearshore Fishery Management Plan
Review and update the Interim Management Plan for Oregon’s Nearshore Commercial Fishery.
(13) Recreational Groundfish Fishery Management Review
Evaluate immediate and long-term management needs for Oregon’s recreational groundfish fishery. Develop specific options and related actions (i.e., staff analysis and public meetings, proposals to the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Groundfish Management Team) to meet those needs. Issues such as catch allocation decisions, data collection, and the conservation and management needs of mixed stocks should be addressed.
(14) Estuarine Fish and Wildlife Management
Develop and implement science-based management strategies for Oregon’s estuarine fish and wildlife resources. Develop conservation plans for species identified as priority.
(15) Shellfish Conservation and Harvest Management Plan(s)
Develop conservation and harvest management plans for commercially and recreationally harvested shellfish.
(16) Inter-agency Management Coordination
Improve communication and collaboration with state and federal agencies, local governments, and tribes on issues affecting nearshore resources and related management.