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Oregon Legislature Makes a Splash for Marine Reserves

Today the legislature passed House Bill 4132, increasing the state’s investment in its system of marine reserves and protected areas following the 10-year anniversary of Oregon’s marine reserves program. Today’s Senate vote of 26-3 follows a unanimous vote (55-0) by the House earlier in the week. The bi-partisan bill championed by chief sponsor Representative David Gomberg (D-10) will help protect the health and biodiversity of marine ecosystems for ocean wildlife and Oregonians into the future. This comes as a major victory for Surfrider Chapters and staff in Oregon who lead for over a decade in supporting the state's program and advancing this legislative effort. For over ten years Oregon's Surfrider network has been dedicated to the implementation and protection of Oregon's marine reserves and protected areas. From aligning citizen science programming such as ocean acidification monitoring with the specially protected areas to conducting outreach and education, this work been a huge part of our efforts in ocean protection. Following a highly divisive and controversial process to designate these special places from 2010-2012, our network has devoted thousands of hours in stewardship, community-building and science to ensure broad awareness and strong community buy-in during the decadal science review and re-evaluation by the Oregon legislature. The unanimous and bi-partisan passage of HB 4132 marks an incredible campaign victory following many years of tireless efforts.


Marine reserves prohibit development and taking of living marine resources; while marine protected areas also prohibit development but allow for some fishing activities to occur. The marine reserves and adjacent marine protected areas are managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and comprise 9% of Oregon’s territorial sea. From north to south, they are located at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Otter Rock, Cape Perpetua, and Redfish Rocks. More than thirty species of marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, and fish populations that use marine waters off Oregon are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Photo of Oregon staff, coalition members and Representative Gomberg on House floor

Photo: Oregon Policy Manager Charlie Plybon, coalition members and Representative Gomberg on the House floor following a major lobby push to move HB 4132 through the Ways & Means budget committee.

As part of the 10 year evaluation, Surfrider Foundation lead a major legislative campaign spanning 2 years with a strong coalition of groups, many of which had been involved in the early designation and ongoing implementation of these special places. We're grateful to have had the opportunity to lead with such an amazing group including the Oregon Ocean Alliance which includes founding members Environment Oregon, Bird Alliance of Oregon, Oceana, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Coast Range Association, Audubon Society of Lincoln City and Surfrider Foundation.

Read the press release of on behalf of Oregon Ocean Alliance