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The Marine Habitat Project


ODFW’s Marine Resources Program 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 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 Protected Areas (MPA) by collecting baseline and ongoing monitoring data for nearshore reef habitats both inside and outside the MPAs
  • 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 resource management information on human activities and environmental conditions affecting the marine ecosystem
  • Maintain and operate ODFW’s Remotely Operated Vehicle
  • Formulate management plans, strategies and regulations involving marine habitats
  • Inform and educate the public about marine habitats and ecosystem

Policy and permitting-related support

Marine Habitat Project staff are involved in a wide range of policy and permitting activities. The following is a list of some recent or ongoing efforts:

  • Develop spatial and marine habitat information in support of Marine Spatial Planning for the development of emerging ocean uses, such as ocean energy projects
  • Advisory support to the Pacific Fishery Management Council on matters that affect fish habitat on the west coast by participating on the Council’s Habitat Committee
  • Comment on habitat alteration permits and Federal Consistency 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
  • Administer Marine Transport permits for the 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 providing specific habitat-related information to support management and policy decisions. Habitat and fish survey methods include use of advanced sonar technologies, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), aerial photography, and several other research tools. Project biologists collaborate with similar projects in California and Washington, as well as researchers at Oregon State University and NOAA Fisheries. Current and recent activities include:

  • ROV-based surveys of reef habitats and associated seafloor communities at Oregon’s Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas at Redfish Rocks, Cape Perpetua, Cascade Head, and Otter Rock, and other areas such as Cape Arago Reef
  • Monitoring hypoxia effects on seafloor communities
  • Mapping seafloor habitats of rocky reefs using multibeam sonar
  • Baseline characterization of nearshore ocean dredge disposal sites off the Columbia River using a video sled

Marine Habitat Reports

Links to ROV videos


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

Scott Marion
Marine Habitat Project Leader

Arlene Merems
Marine Habitat Assistant Project Leader

Bill Miller
Marine Habitat Assistant Project Leader

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