Bill passing through legislature could help coastal fishers if passed

SALEM, Ore. — A bill aimed at improving the health of the ocean and the wallets of fishermen is under legislative consideration in Salem.

SB 260 requires State Department of Fish and Wildlife to establish a program for strategic investments in initiatives related to ocean acidification and hypoxia.

The proposal was developed by the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia.

Hypoxia is an area of ocean water with little or no oxygen in it. Ocean acidification is defined as carbon dioxide dissolving into water.

The issues are blamed on coastal winds from the north during the summer and a warming ocean.

Caren Braby is the Marine Resources Program Manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and co-chair on the OAH Council: “The bill helps by putting projects in place to grow the ecological and economic resilience by understanding the science, the trends that are occurring, the impacts that are happening and understanding the solutions that will be effective to help Oregonians.”

The bill would appropriate $1.9 million from the General Fund to the department for purposes of program. Braby said the funds are to be distributed to the Oregon Ocean Science Trust, Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Braby said coastal fishermen and crabbers have been affected by the algae blooms and domoic acid delaying the crabbing season which is tied to ocean acidification and hypoxia. The funding will help identify where the problems are.

Things proposed in the SB 260 full text include:

Monitoring of key oceanographic and biological indicators of impacts from ocean acidification and hypoxia

Projects or programs that promote coastal economic and ecosystem resilience to ocean acidification and hypoxia

Public information tools and strategies to increase awareness of ocean acidification and hypoxia science, impacts and solutions for Oregon

These projects laid out in SB 260 text vary in things from monitoring water bodies to developing workshops, to studies on shellfish species and a communications strategy,

The legislature will consider the bill over the next few months. If passed, the bill declares emergency, effective July 1, 2019.

Lauren Negrete, KCBY, 15 February 2019. Article.

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