Introduction and Background

In 1987 members of Oregon’s fishing and seafood industry met with administrators from Oregon State University to discuss development of an interdisciplinary organization that could help address long term problems and challenges facing Oregon’s coastal communities and fishing, seafood, and aquaculture industries. Out of those discussions came the establishment in 1989 of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES)– a marine counterpart to Oregon’s inland Agricultural Branch Experiment Stations. Its primary mission has remained constant from its inception – to conduct applied research on coastal and marine issues beneficial to the citizens of Oregon, the Nation, and the World. Under the leadership of Lavern Weber and Captain R. Barry Fisher, the Station began with five faculty and a handful of graduate students. By 2018, the Station had grown to include 13 faculty, a nine member Advisory Board, and 70 staff, research associates, and graduate students located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) in Newport, the Seafood Research and Education Center (SREC, home of the OSU Seafood Laboratory) in Astoria, and the main campus in Corvallis. COMES is now the largest interdisciplinary applied marine research organization in Oregon and one of the largest University-based marine resource and seafood research organizations on the West Coast and in the United States.

The COMES research programs encompass nine primary areas: Aquaculture, Fisheries Ecology, Fisheries Oceanography, Fisheries Genetics, Fisheries Population Dynamics, Marine Resource Management and Policy, Marine Mammals, Marine Economics and Marketing, and Seafood Science. A number of COMES faculty have joint positions within their academic homes and other departments or agencies, including the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Food Science and Technology, Department of Applied Economics, Marine Mammal Institute, and Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Most research involves a diverse array of cooperators including other OSU faculty, Oregon Sea Grant, national and international research institutes, industry and seafood commodity commissions, and state and federal government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA-NMFS), United States Department of Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W), and Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).

COMES conducts research that addresses all three “distinctive” areas of OSU’s strategic plan including 1) Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems, 2) Improving Human Health and Wellness, and 3) Promoting Economic Growth and Social Progress. COMES research also supports the mission of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Agricultural Experiment Station to prepare the next generation of scientists, managers, and leaders in the fields of food, agriculture, natural resources, and life sciences, and to solve complex problems of productivity, profitabili­ty, environmental quality, and human health. COMES conducts research that is interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial. Our strategic approach maximizes the creativity and impacts of our programs by anticipating the future, balancing risks with opportunities, and integrating research, outreach, and teaching responsibilities.

Would you like to read more about where COMES is headed? The full Strategic Intent is available here.

*Approved by the COMES Advisory Board October 2018, pending edits