State officials hold Town Hall

Oregon Sen. Arnie Roblan (District 5) and Rep. Caddy McKeown (District 9) held a Town Hall meeting on Saturday at the Siuslaw Public Library.

The Democratic legislators wanted to update the community on work done during the most recent legislative session and to answer questions from local constituents.

Roblan and McKeown each made brief presentations recapping the regionally relevant issues and bills dealt with during the 2017 session before outlining the issues to be debated in the next legislative session.

Roblan lives in Coos Bay and knew first hand the impact the loss would have up and down the coast. He also worked with marine biologists from the Hatfield Marine Science Center and educators from Oregon State University (OSU) to investigate and identify the causes of the collapse.

This work spurred the development of solutions by introducing legislation to provide information to avert future problems in Oregon fisheries.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of bills over the years, but this last session I was involved in the issue of ocean acidification,” Roblan said. “This started when it was discovered that we lost almost a complete harvest of oysters a few years ago. … Scientists at OSU figured out the problem — as the acidic levels in the ocean rose, the little oyster embryos couldn’t make shells and they would just die.”

The solution to the acidity situation involved the development of a new water filter to reduce the acidification in the water where embryos develop. The research that went into discovering the problem was undertaken at OSU.

Roblan then co-sponsored a bill to provide solid information to state legislators tasked with ocean oversight in the future.

Senate Bill (SB) 1039 establishes the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia. The bill was introduced last spring and made its way through the legislative process over the summer.

In August, the bill was signed into law. It mandates the mission and establishment of the council, which will investigate the effects of climate change on all aspects of Oregon fisheries. The multi-discipline advisory group will be based at OSU and conduct field studies from the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The marine biologists at the center will accumulate research findings and species data that will serve as a base line to better inform members of the legislature on ocean-related issues.

The council will have 13 members with representatives from the Governors Office, Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Quality and the director of Land Conservation and Development, with additional members from the fishing industry and conservation groups.

This group will now be responsible for a wide variety of research projects that affect coastal communities.

Mark Brennan, Siuslaw News, 1 November 2017. Article.

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