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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

August 2009

The Oregon Nearshore Strategy is the marine component of the Conservation Strategy. It works in concert with a number of other planning efforts in a complex arena of interests and advocates and is dependent on the contributions of many. This issue of the newsletter focuses on some of the people at work in our costal communities.

Caren Braby
Caren Braby, ODFW’s new Marine Resources Program manager.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

New Marine Resource Manager Eyes the Waterfront
Marine Reserves Become a Reality
Oregon Territorial Sea Plan Incorporates Renewable Energy
ODFW Biologist to Discuss Wave Energy Sept. 12 in Salem
Predicting Groundfish Abundance on the Mid-coast
Marine Debris Puts Fishermen to Work
Wildlife Viewing on Facebook
One small thing


For a scientist, Caren Braby is a breath of fresh air. Forget the acronyms, the jargon and the scientific names. As the new ODFW Marine Resource Program manager, she can clearly articulate the goals of marine planning and management.

“To manage the ocean, we have to find out where marine fish and animals exist and why,” she said. “To manage human uses of the ocean, we have to develop strategies for who gets to do what, where.”

Now, even to a non scientist, that seems like a big task, and Braby is well aware of the challenges. But, by her own admission, she is a “coastal community person” and has been for her whole life.

“I think we can figure it out,” she said.

With a PhD in marine biology from Stanford, a stint teaching at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and a year at ODFW, Braby is energized by her new role. “I have a unique opportunity to help shape how we use our marine resources. What could be better than that?”

Otter Rock
Otter Rock north of Newport is one of two proposed marine reserve pilot sites.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

From a conservation point of view, Braby would like to see more emphasis on estuaries and their critical role as the link between terrestrial and marine ecoregions. She will also work on the integration of the Conservation and Nearshore strategies.

Visit the Marine Resources Program website for more information about the program and the Nearshore Strategy . E-mail Caren .


For many a tourist who walked along the Oregon coast this summer, the idea that beneath the vast, open expanse of ocean is a variety of complex habitats and numerous working parts, is surprising. Coastal communities, fishers, recreationists and scientists, however, are well aware of the multiple uses of the ocean and are working to understand how to best manage it to ensure its health and productivity. One of the new tools they have to work with is marine reserves—areas in the ocean that are protected from activities that remove animals or plants or alter habitats.

“We manage the ocean with a lot of uncertainty. We can learn a lot by having some areas set aside to serve as reference areas for ongoing research and monitoring to better inform nearshore management,” said Cristen Don, ODFW Marine Reserves Program leader. “We have so much to learn about habitat interactions and marine species; natural disturbance to environments versus man-made disturbance; and habitat preference of species.

Support for reserve areas in Oregon’s ocean comes from the Governor’s Oregon Policy Advisory Committee, a wide range of citizen and science groups and from the 2009 Legislature which allocated $2 million to ODFW for the biennium for the project. Funding will come in part from New Carissa settlement money and in part from grants and donations. Currently, ODFW is developing a work plan for implementing two pilot reserve sites.

Support also comes from The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team, an organization of commercial fishermen.

“We see the need for a network of marine reserves as an insurance policy for healthy fisheries,” said Leesa Cobb, POORT’s director. “Reserves can provide an important benefit as we have to deal with climate change and the possibility of overfishing. Our goal is sustainable fisheries.”

“This is an exciting time for Oregon,” said Don. “Marine reserves are being used around the world and this moves us closer to understanding how to better manage Oregon’s resources.”

Don, who has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s in marine affairs, was one of the authors of the Oregon Nearshore Strategy. A girl who grew up on—or as she says “in”—the water on the southern coast of California, Don has embraced life on the Oregon coast and finds every opportunity to be out on the water. An avid surfer, she still spends plenty of time in it.

Paul Klarin
In his work to revise the Territorial Sea Plan to include renewal energy, Paul Klarin navigates the wide range of opinions with a sense of humor and optimism.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

Contact Cristen, cristen.n.don@odfw.oregon.gov

For more information, visit the Oregon Marine Reserves and the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team websites.


Who manages the ocean? The answer depends on where you are. The nearshore ocean, or the territorial sea, reaches three nautical miles from shore—here you are in state waters. From three to two hundred miles, you are in the federal waters. After that, you are on the international high seas.

State waters are managed under The Oregon Territorial Sea Plan which was created at the direction of the Legislature in 1994 to conserve and protect renewable marine species and habitats. Early in 2008, Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked that the Plan be revised to make room in state waters for renewable energy uses—specifically wave and wind energy.

“We have an opportunity to do this correctly,” said Paul Klarin, Marine Affairs coordinator, Department of Land Conservation and Development, who is leading the Plan revision. “It makes sense to integrate renewable technologies into our energy portfolio, but we have to find areas that can accommodate them with the least effect on our species, habitats and in concert with recreational and commercial fishing and crabbing uses.”

To identify appropriate areas, Klarin is working with an advisory committee that includes biologists, fishers, energy industry representatives and agency personnel. Mapping species, migration routes, habitats and existing uses in the undersea world helps to narrow the possibilities, but it’s challenging work.

Cristen Don
Cristen Don, one of the authors of the Oregon Nearshore Strategy, will speak at the upcoming STEP conference.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

A draft of the revision is expected to be ready by the end of the year. Policies and operational guidelines will be written in 2010.

Find The Territorial Sea Plan on the Oregon.gov website.


Cristen Don, ODFW marine biologist, will be in Salem at 9 a.m. on Sat. Sept. 12 to talk about wave energy development along the Oregon coast and its potential impacts on fish, wildlife and marine habitats. The presentation is part of the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program conference which will be held at the Oregon 4-H Conference and Education Center. Advance registration is required. Cost of the event is $15 for individuals. Registration forms are available on the ODFW website


Linking groundfish populations to their habitat is the holy grail of marine habitat biologists. If scientists can construct statistical models that accurately describe the habitat where a fish species is found—depth, slope, seafloor roughness and other characteristics—then they can use those models to predict the probability that the same species will be found in other areas where habitat information is available from seafloor maps. This information would provide managers with much better data to work with when deciding on ocean uses.

“Statistical modeling is a promising technique to quantify species-habitat relationships,” said Mike Donnellan, ODFW Marine Habitat Project leader. “It has the potential for a substantial payoff, given the need for stock assessments of nearshore species and the need to estimate the quality of rocky reef habitat in proposed marine reserves off the Oregon coast.”

Mike and Meira
Mike Donnellan, ODFW Marine Habitat Project leader, and Meira Dinsmore, ODFW Natural Resources specialist, launch the Sea Cow, the remotely operated vehicle used to gather undersea data.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

Using funds from a Conservation Strategy Implementation grant, Donnellan and crew have recently finished a survey of nearshore rocky reefs at Siletz Reef off Lincoln City using a remotely operated underwater vehicle to test some of their theories and mathematical models.

“This is the first study of its type in Oregon, and we learned a lot,” said Donnellan. “This winter, we will be refining and improving our models, so we can hopefully take advantage of the upcoming availability of high-resolution seafloor maps.

The new maps will result from the work NOAA and OSU are doing to image sections of the state’s ocean floor. For more information about the map work, see the OSU website .


A federal stimulus grant announced this summer will employ Oregon fishers, among others, to remove crab pots and other derelict fishing gear along the Oregon coast. In July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded the $699,000 grant to ODFW for removal of derelict Dungeness crab pots and other fishing debris.

The work is in keeping with goals of the Nearshore Strategy which identifies the negative impacts that derelict fishing gear can have on important nearshore habitats, such as rocky reefs and soft bottom habitats and marine life.

Nearly 90 percent of the funds will go to create or maintain an estimated 48 jobs. Of those, 31 are targeted for commercial fishermen.

Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announces a $699,000 federal economic stimulus grant to ODFW for removal of derelict Dungeness crab pots and other fishing debris in July.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

Gear losses are a natural consequence of fishing in the challenging conditions that exist off the Oregon coast. While the short-term goal is to improve the habitat for Dungeness crab and other marine species, the long-term goal is to find industry-based solutions to recover gear before it accumulates.

The Oregon Fishing Industry Restoration Partnership grant will pay for the charter of up to 10 fishing vessels to recover lost fishing gear over two field seasons. It will also pay for side-scan sonar work to locate cut-off crab pots in the mouth of the Columbia River. A reporting hotline, chartered over flights and opportunistic Coast Guard over flights will provide further location information for stray pots.

Currently, ODFW staff is in the process of contracting with fishermen and others. Work will begin in late September.

To learn more about coastal recovery stimulus projects, visit the Recovery.gov website .


If you are a fan of Oregon Wildlife Viewing, you know that thousands of brown pelicans visit the Oregon coast each year, that they are here now and where to see them. You’d also know the Vaux swifts are moving south and coming soon to a chimney roost near you. If you’re not a Facebook member, what are you waiting for? You can view the page here: Oregon Wildlife Viewing


Use reusable water bottles and cloth grocery bags. Plastic debris in the ocean degrades marine habitats and contributes to the deaths of marine animals. Because floating plastic often resembles food to many marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, they can choke or starve because their digestive systems get blocked when they eat it. Source: Oceana .

Western Sandpiper

On the Ground newsletter archives

The Oregon Conservation Strategy provides a blueprint and action plan for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a non-regulatory, statewide approach to conservation. It was developed by ODFW with the help of a diverse coalition of Oregonians including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, extension services, anglers, hunters, and representatives from agriculture, forestry and rangelands.

Meg Kenagy
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications coordinator
(503) 947-6021


Contact Meg Kenagy

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