The NOAA Marine Debris Program (2012-2018) partnered with CIMERS to develop a pilot marine debris monitoring program for the Oregon Coast, engaging citizen scientists in coastal communities to collect baseline information on the occurrence of marine debris. These efforts supported the larger Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP) at NOAA. The NOAA MDMAP is an initiative to compile a record of the amount and types of debris in the environment to the progress of existing marine debris prevention initiatives and identify targets for future mitigation efforts. Online resources: Sightings of marine debris are reported here by Oregon's Marine Debris Team and NOAA's Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (pdf).
Impacts from Marine Debris include:
- Economic loss
- Habitat damage
- Wildlife entanglement and ghost fishing
- Vessel damage and navigation hazards
- Invasive species transport
Aquaculture can help meet the demands of human consumption, support the restoration of marine populations, and increase commercial and recreational fisheries harvest.
Oregon State University (OSU) has a decades-long history with aquaculture that began in the 1970s with Oregon Sea Grant exploring methods for producing salmon and oysters. The OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Aquaculture Laboratory in Newport hosts the Molluscan Broodstock Program, which has raised the productivity of West Coast oyster farming since the 1980s and has been addressing the effects of ocean acidification on Oregon shellfish. In 2015, OSU developed a patented strain of seaweed called dulse, grown in Bandon and Garibaldi, Oregon, and sold in high-end restaurants. Dulse serves a dual purpose by removing carbon dioxide from water. In Port Orford, efforts are underway via the OSU Marine Studies Initiative to explore the nexus among sea urchins, seastars, and kelp. Sea urchin populations have been expanding because of reductions in their key predator, seastars. Seastar populations began declining because of seastar wasting disease, which has resulted in an increase in urchin populations. Urchins feed on kelp, thus reducing important kelp beds on the coast.
Marine Renewable Energy
A significant renewable wave energy test facility project is underway on Oregon's coast. The wave energy testing facility, slated to be operational by 2022, will explore the potential to generate electricity six miles off the coast. PacWave, OSU, and the US Department of Energy are key partners in the project.
Marine renewable energy has the potential to power and support offshore aquaculture facilities, producing high-quality protein without the need for land, freshwater, or fertilizer. The co-location of marine renewable energy sites and offshore aquaculture facilities creates opportunities for collaboration among government agencies, private industry, and international partners.
Other efforts include:
- Plans to develop wave energy farms off the Oregon coast have raised concerns about the potential effects on gray whales migrating along the Oregon coast. To address that question, the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute conducted a study on the migration patterns of gray whales off Yaquina Head.
- OSU Marine Mammal Institute tested the effectiveness of an acoustic deterrent to act as a mitigation tool to protect gray whales from potential collision or entanglement impacts from marine renewable energy development.
- OSU Marine Mammal Institute’s expertise in fine-scale satellite tracking of large whales can identify areas of high use by whales along the Oregon coast and help guide the appropriate siting of renewable energy installations while minimizing potential impacts to whales.