New legislation supports Oregon fisheries

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An ODFW biologist surveys shellfish and their habitats to inform management and track change. HB 3114 increases ODFW’s capacity to assess shellfish populations in Oregon estuaries. (Photo courtesy of ODFW)

The passage of House Bill 3114 is another historic Oregon first in the fight against ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) and shows Oregon leaders’ awareness of the importance of healthy oceans. Oregon is an epicenter for OAH and was one of the first places in the world to observe direct impacts of ocean change when oyster hatchery production collapsed in 2007 from ocean acidification.

The bill provides $1.9 million to fund research and monitoring along the Oregon coast and estuaries, develop best management practices and conduct outreach and education. ODFW will directly receive $470,000 of this funding to assess shellfish and habitat in estuaries and map estuaries to document long-term OAH impacts.

“This legislative investment helps ODFW keep a finger on the pulse of our estuaries by increasing our capacity to survey shellfish and estuary habitats more frequently,” said Caren Braby, ODFW marine resources program manager and co-chair of Oregon’s OAH Council. “Estuaries provide important nursery habitat for many ocean species and support both commercial and recreational fisheries as well as oyster mariculture operations.”

Ocean acidification is caused when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere enters the ocean and chemically reacts with ocean water, making the ocean more acidic (lowering the pH). Hypoxia (low oxygen) occurs when deep ocean waters with less oxygen rise and are pushed closer to the shore by northerly winds, and then near-bottom waters are robbed of oxygen by decaying organic matter. This happens more frequently than normal due to climate changes that heat the land and ocean waters and change normal wind patterns.

House Bill 3114 is a cohesive plan that implements recommended priorities established in Oregon’s OAH Council’s 2018 Legislative Report and the Oregon OAH Action Plan (adopted by the governor for 2019-2025) that supports fisheries, industry, and coastal communities. To learn more about ocean acidification and hypoxia and the steps Oregon is taking to address OAH, go online at www.oregonocean.info/index.php/ocean-acidification

News Times, 28 July 2021. Full article.


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