Oregom MPLAs dead

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Posted by on April 24, 2005 at 03:15:15:

Area fishermen recently received some good news in a season so far full of bad. It appears the Marine Parks Bill, Senate Bill 734, will not be approved by the state legislature.

The bill proposed to allow marine protected areas off shore from Oregon State Parks.

Both commercial and recreational fishermen worried that, with the entire coastline already under the banner of the state parks system, all of Oregon's state waters could be made a marine reserve.

Although it's not a done deal yet, Russ Crabtree, executive director of the Port of Brookings Harbor, Thursday told members of the Port Fisheries Committee that SB 734 appears dead.

"It's probably DOA, dead on arrival," Crabtree said.

But he issued a warning to the group. This is probably only the first attempt at setting up marine reserves along the Oregon Coast.

Marine Protected Areas (MPA), marine reserves or marine parks are all synonymous, Crabtree said. And all legislation considering them need to be closely monitored, he added.

"You've got 360 miles of coastline that could become a marine park. That would shut down the entire coast," Crabtree said.

Marine reserves are areas that would be completely closed to use. The already exist in several California locations, including the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay.

The idea of establishing some in Oregon have been floating around for a few years. Bob Crouch, Oregon representative of the Klamath Management Zone Fisheries Coalition, monitored the issue through the Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings this year. He testified in both Sacramento and Tacoma, Wash., for the coalition.

"Both failed due to a lot of public comment," Crouch said Thursday.

Crabtree said he had just returned from an Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association meeting which is monitoring the issue.

He said the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council, which two years ago, under the direction of then-Governor John Kitzhaber, studied the possibility of establishing marine reserves off the coast.

Crabtree said the OPAC process needs to be watched.

"We think the bill is premature," he said of SB 734. "It's not needed. It shouldn't happen."

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