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The Marine Habitat Project


ODFW’s Marine Resources Program (MRP) initiated the Marine Habitat Project in 1989 to: 1) address emerging management issues involving marine habitats, and 2) provide a habitat-based perspective to traditional single species-based management. The project has both a management and research focus, and is charged with achieving the following primary objectives:

Inventory and quantitatively describe selected marine habitats and their associated biological communities

Provide scientific and policy analysis to decision makers regarding emerging and ongoing issues affecting marine habitats and associated biological communities

Assist the Marine Reserves Program with evaluation of Marine Reserves and associated Marine Protected Areas by conducting baseline and monitoring studies of nearshore rocky habitats.  inside and outside the designated areas

Participate in state and regional bodies, and in other resource management forums, to represent Oregon’s interests and advise policy makers about issues involving marine habitats

Develop information for management of human activities affecting marine habitats

Formulate management plans, strategies and regulations involving marine habitats

Inform and educate the public about marine habitats and ecosystems

Evaluate and respond to immediate impacts on marine habitats (e.g., oil spills)

Provide habitat expertise to other MRP Projects for fisheries management and policy

Policy and Permitting-related Science Support

Marine Habitat Project staff are involved in a wide range of policy and permitting activities, with some recent examples including:

Nearshore Ecological Data Atlas development in support of Marine Spatial Planning and Oregon Territorial Sea Plan amendment

Study plan co-development for Ocean Power Technologies wave energy project (Reedsport)

Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Habitat Committee membership

Habitat alteration permit and Federal Consistency application reviews for the Department of Land Conservation and Development, Department of State Lands, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Ocean dredge disposal evaluation and biological study plan development

Technical Committee membership for the Regional Sediment Management Plan for the Mouth of the Columbia River

Scientific take permit review

Administration of Marine Transport permit for transport of live marine fish and invertebrates (non-commercial)

Research and Monitoring

The project’s research and monitoring efforts focus on inventorying marine habitats and associated fishes and invertebrates, providing specific habitat-related information to support management and policy decisions. Habitat and fish survey methods primarily include remote sensing technologies (e.g., multibeam sonar bathymetry, aerial photography), and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which the Marine Habitat Project operates and maintains. Project biologists collaborate with similar projects in California and Washington, as well as researchers at Oregon State University and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Current and recent activities include:

ROV-based evaluation of nearshore rocky habitat and associated seafloor communities in the Redfish Rocks, Cape Perpetua, and Cascade Head Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas

Aerial mapping of  the distribution and abundance of canopy-forming kelps on Oregon’s south coast using multispectral imagery and color-infrared photography

ROV-based evaluation of hypoxia effects on seafloor communities off Oregon’s central coast

ROV Survey of habitat and fish at Otter Rock and Cape Foulweather

ROV Survey of fish species-habitat associations at Siletz Reef

Effects of bottom trawling on seafloor communities in unconsolidated seafloor habitats near Nehalem Bank (in conjunction with MRP’s At-Sea Research Project)

Baseline characterization of nearshore ocean dredge disposal sites off the Columbia River using a video sled

Reports, Publications and Video

Marine Habitat Reports and Publications

ROV Videos

Stonewall Bank (2010)
Otter Rock/Depoe Bay/Cape Foulweather (2008)
Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve Evaluation (includes footage from Orford Reef and Humbug Reef; 2010)
Redfish Rocks/Orford Reef/Humbug Reef - invertebrates (2010)
Redfish Rocks/Orford Reef/Humbug Reef - fish (2010)


Currently, the Marine Habitat Project staff includes three permanent staff biologists and up to three seasonal staff during the summer field season.

Scott Marion
Marine Habitat Project Leader
Phone: 541-867-0300 ext. 262

Arlene Merems
Marine Habitat Assistant Project Leader
Phone: 541-867-0300 x246 or 541-757-4186 x252

Bill Miller
Marine Habitat Assistant Project Leader
Phone: 541-867-7701 x226

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