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The Oregon Nearshore Strategy

What Is the Nearshore?

Map of Oregon's nearshore
Oregon's nearshore ocean as defined by the Nearshore Strategy (30 fm depth contour).
(Click on map to enlarge)

Oregon's nearshore ocean is defined, for the purposes of the Nearshore Strategy, as the area from the coastal high tide line offshore to the 30 fathom (180 feet or 55 meter) depth contour (Figure 1). The nearshore area includes a variety of habitats ranging from submerged high-relief rocky reefs to broad expanses of intertidal sandy beaches. Oregon's nearshore environment is home to a diversity of marine organisms, including species of bony fishes, cartilaginous fishes, invertebrates, mammals, and algae.

The geographic scope of the Nearshore Strategy extends from the shoreline out to three nautical miles (Oregon's state waters), but focuses mainly on species and habitats that predominately occur from the high tide line out to the 30 fathom depth contour. The 30 fathom depth contour also closely mirrors the three nautical mile line of Oregon’s state waters.

Why Does Oregon Need a Nearshore Strategy?

New and increasing human pressures

As human populations and activities in and around our nearshore ocean grow, both in Oregon and at the national scale, so do our impacts on the fish, wildlife, and habitats found there. Coastal development, agriculture, sport and commercial fishing, dredging, wastewater disposal, aquaculture, and energy development are just a few nearshore marine resource uses that benefit our human communities. However, these activities also have the potential to adversely affect nearshore resources as well as human health and ecosystem vitality. The need for careful, proactive planning and management that balance multiple uses is clear.

Managers lacking adequate information

Oregon's nearshore species, habitats, and ecosystem face a combination of new and increasing human pressures, but managers lack much of the scientific and socioeconomic information needed to determine their effects and to make the most appropriate management decisions.

Opportunities for Nearshore Planning

In 2002, the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program provided nationwide funding and momentum for wildlife conservation planning for each U.S. state and territory. For the opportunity to receive future funds, each state and territory is required to develop a statewide Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. The purpose of these strategies is to chart a course for conservation by promoting strategic and voluntary conservation actions that benefit at-risk species and their habitats, and in so doing, reduce the possibility of future federal or state listings under the Endangered Species Act.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) led the planning effort for Oregon and developed the Oregon Conservation Strategy. This was an ambitious project to synthesize the best available science and knowledge into a broad vision and conceptual framework for the long-term conservation of Oregon's native terrestrial, aquatic, and estuarine fish and wildlife, and their habitats. The Oregon Nearshore Strategy (Nearshore Strategy), prepared by ODFW's Marine Resources Program, complements the Oregon Conservation Strategy by providing details on nearshore marine fish and wildlife, their habitats, conservation needs, and opportunity areas. The Nearshore Strategy also stands on its own for readers interested specifically in marine issues.

For more information on the SWG program, requirements of state wildlife conservation strategies, or conservation planning efforts in other states, please visit the Teaming with Wildlife web page.

Read more about the Oregon Conservation Strategy.

What Is the Nearshore Strategy?

Nearshore Strategy Mission

To promote actions that will conserve ecological functions and nearshore marine resources to provide long-term ecological, economic, and social benefits for current and future generations of Oregonians.

The Nearshore Strategy is a first step to look at nearshore marine fish and wildlife, and to address management issues, in a broader social and ecological context in Oregon. The Strategy does not create or recommend any specific regulations. Rather it presents recommendations that prioritize ODFW's management of marine fish and wildlife and identifies potential areas of opportunity for other public or private entities, state and local agencies, and tribes to contribute to the sustainability of Oregon's nearshore resources.

Sixteen recommended ODFW actions are presented in the Nearshore Strategy. These 16 actions address priority nearshore issues that are in need of immediate or timely attention, are feasible in implementation given appropriate funding, and have received some level of public support. The recommended actions fall into three general categories: 1) education and outreach, 2) research and monitoring, and 3) management and policy.

How Will the Nearshore Strategy Be Used?

One of the most important outcomes of this initial phase of nearshore planning was the identification of a collective set of conservation and management priorities that can guide the state's strategic investment of time and funding in a manner consistent with public interest.

There are other management and conservation processes already in place that make little sense for Nearshore Strategy efforts to duplicate or replace. ODFW is an active or contributing participant in many of these marine management and conservation processes, such as the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the Ocean Policy Advisory Council. The Nearshore Strategy is intended to contribute to the larger domain of marine resources management by guiding management, policy, research and outreach actions towards priority nearshore issues and areas that have not received the attention they deserve by other marine resource management processes already in place. This Strategy will help direct managers' attention and resources to areas where they can have the most positive impact on nearshore fish and wildlife, their habitats, and the nearshore ecosystem as a whole.

Who Is Involved?

A core group of ODFW staff (Nearshore Team) led the initial preparation of the Nearshore Strategy. This team was responsible for collecting and analyzing data on nearshore species and habitats, obtaining external expertise and input on nearshore issues and needs, identifying priorities, and making formal recommendations in areas of conservation, research, and management.

The Nearshore Team engaged management partners, stakeholders, scientists, and other parties with an interest in Oregon 's nearshore resources in the development of the Nearshore Strategy. These participants represented an array of groups and interests, including:

  • All sectors of the fishing industry and other ocean related businesses
  • Conservation organizations
  • Scientists, economists, and other specialists
  • Federal, tribal, state, and local government representatives
  • Other interested citizens

Public input

Three avenues for public participation in the development of the Nearshore Strategy were provided: public meetings, a technical working group, and additional verbal or written public comment. They provided opportunities for the Nearshore Team to listen to and assemble input on nearshore species and issues in need of management attention, potential conservation actions, research and monitoring needs, and priorities for management.

Public meetings engaged participants in sharing their knowledge and concerns regarding limiting factors or threats and opportunities and specific action areas for conservation and improved management in the nearshore environment.

More information on the public meetings that were held in the spring of 2005, and notes from public and technical working group meetings.

What Next?

The Oregon Nearshore Strategy was approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at the December 2, 2005 Commission meeting. Since then, ODFW's nearshore planning effort has focused on the implementation of the Nearshore Strategy. In 2012, the first step in reviewing the Nearshore Strategy was taken. Progress made implementing the 16 recommendations in the Nearshore Strategy was documented and evaluated. Next steps were proposed.

Conservation Strategies are living documents. The SWG program requires that the Oregon Conservation Strategy and the Oregon Nearshore Strategy undergo a comprehensive review at least every 10 years. ODFW will engage stakeholders, representatives of state and federal agencies, tribes, and the general public in a formal review. Both Strategy documents will be updated for consistency with current resource issues, state policies, scientific information, and public interest. The review and update process is currently underway. Updated versions of the Conservation Strategy and the Nearshore Strategy with explanations of all updates made will be presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Once adopted by the Commission, the updated documents will go the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The process is due for completion by October 1, 2015.

The ODFW Marine Resources Program is seeking public input on the Nearshore Strategy as part of the review and update. Contact ODFW to provide input or to find out more about the review and update process. Contact information for the Nearshore Strategy is provided below.

Nearshore Strategy Contacts

Gregory K. Krutzikowsky
Nearshore Policy Project Leader
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Marine Resources Program
2040 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR 97365
(541) 867-0300 X 248

Nearshore Strategy Input
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Marine Resources Program
2040 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR 97365


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