2023 Program Evaluation, Staff Changes, and New Scientific Paper

A Deeper Dive

2023 Programmatic Check-in: What does it mean?

Program Timeline

Senate Bill 1510, passed in 2012 by the Oregon Legislature, calls for a check-in and report on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Reserves Program to the legislature in 2023. The bill provided that the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) select a university team, based at an Oregon public university, to research and prepare the report. STAC would then submit a final report to the legislature by March 1, 2023.

In 2022, a team of researchers, selected by STAC based at Oregon State University, prepared an assessment of the Marine Reserves Program. The assessment evaluated whether the program is meeting its mandated goals and provided recommendations for improvements (see report here).

The basis for the university’s assessment was our Marine Reserves Program Synthesis Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of our program and the first 10 years of marine reserves implementation.

So now what?

The STAC delivered the report first in October to the interim legislative Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources and then this month to the full legislature. It included recommendations to develop and implement two new program elements -- an adaptive-management plan as well as a collaborative process to evaluate social-monitoring data. The recommendations also included money to accomplish these tasks. This has led to the creation of House Bill 2903 now before the current legislative session.

What does the bill say?

It tasks ODFW with developing and implementing the report recommendations for an adaptive management and collaborative process to evaluate social-monitoring data, and funds the program to do so. The bill does not create any new marine reserves, nor does it extend any reserve boundaries. The bill has several sponsors. On the house side, they are representatives David Gomberg (D-Otis), Cyrus Javadi (R-Tillamook), Boomer Wright (R-Reedsport), and Mark Gamba (D-Milwaukie). On the senate side, they are senators David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) and Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook).

What will happen next?

That depends on what happens in the legislative session. You can track the bill’s status this legislative session online.

For a primer of how a bill becomes a law – check out this Schoolhouse Rock video or the Oregon State Legislature website.

In the meantime, our program is continuing with our long-term ecological and human dimensions (socio-economic) monitoring, outreach and community engagement activities.

New Infographic Release

Hot off the presses this month is a new infographic summarizing the findings from our 10-year Marine Reserves Program Synthesis Report and the 2023 legislative check-in. This is the first near-shore monitoring program in Oregon to track ecosystem changes over time, including impacts to ocean users and coastal communities. Take a deeper dive into the collaborative nature of our program and what we’ve learned so far.

Synthesis snip
Read More

New Collaborative Research Publication

Presence of microplastics and microparticles in Oregon black rockfish sampled near marine reserve areas

Black Rockfish

Tiny pieces of discarded plastics have been discovered in the stomachs of some Oregon black rockfish (Sebastes melanops), but there is no indication that these fish are still anything but safe to eat.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Reserves Program collaborated with researchers at Oregon State University on a project investigating so-called microplastics and microparticles in Oregon black rockfish sampled near marine reserve areas.

The study showed that 93% of subadult and 92% of juvenile rockfish had microplastics in their guts. While this study did not look for microparticles in the fishes’ flesh, ongoing research shows only low levels of microparticles – far less than what humans ingest even from indoor air.

Our work suggests that fish located inside the reserves contain a similar amount of microparticles in both juvenile and subadult black rockfish as outside of the reserves. This data collection and study is one of many emerging snapshots in the collage of scientific collaborations in which Oregon’s Marine Reserves Program helps create better clarity in the ever-evolving picture of what’s happening in our near-shore waters.

To dive deeper into the study, click here.

New Staff Spotlights

We have two new additions to our Marine Reserves team!

Kendall Smith comes to us from Oregon Sea Grant’s Natural Resource Policy Fellowship and will be focusing on marine science communications and community outreach and engagement. She will be with us for one year. Read more below in her short bio and check out this picture of her holding a flat abalone, which was part of her previous work.

Mark Freeman is joining our team as a Public Affairs Specialist and will be with us for six months. Mark has many years of experience working with public communications and has a passion for fishing. Learn more about Mark by reading his bio below and check out his picture doing one of the things he loves in Southern Oregon.

KS Staff pic

Kendall focuses on science communications within the Marine Reserves Program, working to increase connections with communities and stakeholders affected by policy changes and to disseminate research findings from the recently completed synthesis report.

Kendall has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Oregon, and a master’s degree in Biology from the University of Oregon. Prior to her work with Oregon’s Marine Reserves, Kendall investigated the biological and ecological factors influencing the red abalone population in Oregon, performing genetic analysis, larval behavior synthesis and a management techniques evaluation to complete a conservation and fishery management plan for the historically important recreational fishery. Kendall loves to mountain bike, travel, SCUBA dive, and cook in her free time.

MF Staff pic

Mark comes to the program with more than 30 years in print and television journalism covering ocean, coastal, fishing and other environmental issues, first in Coos Bay and the past three decades at the Mail Tribune in Medford.

Mark routinely wrote about various inland and ocean fisheries in news articles and weekly outdoors columns. He’s also written extensively on lingcod and other groundfish recovery efforts as well as the commercial fisheries.

Mark also produced, wrote and hosted the Oregon Outdoors television show seen weekly on CBS affiliates throughout Oregon. He can’t wait to carry a tide book in his pocket again.

Help us welcome these two members to our team!

Updates From the Field

Annual SCUBA Survey Volunteer Training

SCUBA training

In February, we held our annual two-day training for our volunteer scientific divers. These trainings are held with the help of our research collaborators at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Oregon State University. They focus on the SCUBA survey scientific methods our divers use to collect data on fish, invertebrates and algae. This year we had eight new scientific divers attending the training. All our marine reserve SCUBA surveys are conducted by our dedicated volunteers, new and returning. We’ll be sharing stories from some of our volunteer divers in the near future.

We are Hiring a New Ecological Project Leader!

LA staff pic

Photo credit: Greg Krutzikowsky

Do you like fieldwork and collaborations? Are you passionate about leading ecological research in a dynamic and multidisciplinary program? Consider applying to our ecological project leader position.

Our former ecological project leader, Lindsay Aylesworth, was recently promoted to lead the Marine Reserves Program. We are currently recruiting to fill her former position permanently. You can find the full job posting and application here. The deadline for applications is March 13, 2023.

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