In years past, when beaches were often used as highways, the ocean and its resources seemed unlimited. But in today's world, with concerns about sustainability, conversations about "Marine Resources" can quickly turn into disagreements about public and private rights, obligations, and needs.
As the population has grown - as we've required more food, more energy, more manufactured goods - more pressure has been put on our natural resources. When we're dealing with land, it's often easy to see the limitations and potential problems. With the ocean, it's far more difficult - and controversial - since it's composed of resources we can't easily see or measure.
Traditionally, the ocean off Oregon's coast has been used for commercial fishing, crabbing and sport fishing, and for recreation - surfing, tidepooling, clamming, whale watching, and beach-going. More recent uses include environmental tourism, wave energy, and conservation within marine reserve areas. Future uses will include ocean monitoring systems and could include offshore aquaculture, offshore oil and gas drilling, or deep-water mineral resource mining. So how do we decide which of these uses would be best for our future? How do we plan for it? And how can we possiblly "zone" the ocean?
In response to these concerns, Oregon developed a Territorial Sea Plan. The history behind the Plan can be found here; the full plan here. Part Five of the Plan focuses on the development of responsible renewable energy facilities. Concerns about offshore oil and gas drilling, other deep-sea mineral resources, foreign fishing fleets, and overfishing also contributed to territorial sea management actions, which included creation of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC), advisory board to Oregon's Governor. OPAC receives scientific and technical advice from the independent Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC).
Questions about spatial planning - how can we zone the ocean? - are being addressed by the National Ocean Council, whose goals include support for sustainable, efficient and productive uses of the ocean and coast. NOAA's site on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) supports the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force by providing CMSP information to managers and policy makers.
Additional information can be found at the following sites:
Oregon's Wave Energy Trust, which was formed to support responsible development of wave energy in Oregon. Their website contains information on all aspects, from legislation to careers in the field.
Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), a partnership between Oregon State University and the University of Washington. OSU focuses on wave energy; UW focuses on tidal energy. Terra Magazine published a recent article, "Taking Stock of Wave Energy", that describes some of the issues being studied by NNMREC.
The Oregon Nearshore Strategy, by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, focuses on nearshore fish and wildlife management.
ODFW also hosts the site for Oregon's marine reserves.
A companion website, Oregon Ocean Information, covers several topics: ocean energy, nearshore task force, marine reserves, and seafloor mapping.
Sport fishing is managed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, on their Fishing in Oregon resource page.
Oregon Coastal Ocean Observing System (OrCOOS) provides information on the "Endurance" array, that portion of the ocean observing network that will monitor the Cascadia subduction zone. The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) contains additional information of interest to residents of the Pacific Northwest.
Students interested in pursing a degree in Marine Resource Management can check out OSU's page on this program.
Terra magazine's Winter 2011 issue covers several timely marine topics, from plankton to whales, seafood, oil spills, acidified water, and underwater eruptions.
Scott Baker, conservation geneticist widely recognized for his research on illegally killed whales (documented in the Academy Award winning movie, The Cove) offers insights into his work with whales, dolphins, and porpoises, in another Terra article, "Gene Stalker". "Secret Slaughter" offers more information about the background research that dominated The Cove.
While this list may seem top-heavy with scientists and research units, a growing number of Citizen Science organizations also work to protect our marine resources. Such groups inlcude Surfrider, Solve, Citizen Science at OSU, Citizen Science at HMSC, and the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership. Many K-12 teachers and their students are also involved with marine protection and education projects. Check out this link - The Impact of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - that David, a middle-school student from Colorado, found while working on his ocean and freshwater conservation project.