Late last year I had the pleasure of participating in Oregon’s Ocean Science Trust Summit, a think tank of Oregon’s premier ocean scientists and researchers convening for 2 days to prioritize our state’s most pressing marine science and policy issues. The event was an incredible opportunity for Surfrider to participate in, particularly with our organization’s focus on arising ocean issues and key actions to support solutions. With 65 top ocean minds coming together for the event, my role as a facilitator of one of the breakout groups provided us keen insight on how scientists and researchers are thinking about our changing ocean and the role of science and policy can play.
Oregon’s Ocean Science Trust (OOST) was created in 2013 as an effort to support funding of key ocean science for the management of our incredibly valuable ocean and coastal resources. Indeed Oregon’s coastal communities are intimately connected to the balance of these resources but so are all Oregonians who care to experience wildlife, eat seafood, or even take a clean breath of air from the oxygen our ocean provides.
“We know that all Oregonians, in fact all humans in these and future generations, benefit from a healthy productive ocean,” says Laura Anderson, Chair of the OOST. “Blue carbon ecosystems, food production, jobs and communities are all vulnerable to the increasing rate of change in our oceans. OOST’s ability to catalyze and fund collaborative science, build ocean knowledge, inform sound policy decisions, and generate creative ocean and coastal solutions is our contribution to society.”
Outcomes of the workshop are summarized in this incredibly thorough technical Ocean Science Summit Report of participant ideas, experiences and hopes for the future of ocean science in Oregon. Below are some key recommendations following this report from the OOST leadership and how Surfrider is working to advance policy and actions on these efforts:
1) Oregon’s future ocean science will need to have some grounding in long-term monitoring and studying changes in climate and ocean conditions. As such Surfrider’s legislative campaign work in 2024 will be focused on supporting key funding for Oregon’s Marine Reserve Program, the state’s only place-based long-term monitoring of our nearshore ocean.
2) Oregon’s ocean science must strive to recognize and encourage more forms of knowledge and understanding than traditional science. Surfrider’s chapter network will continue to build on our community science programs such as Blue Water Task Force and strive to build stronger partnerships and support advancement of cultural knowledge in science and management.
3) Oregon’s ocean science must endeavor to better articulate and make connections with how science can support the health and well-being of people and communities. Surfrider will continue to ground our work through our grassroots network of chapters and volunteers, and prioritize our campaign efforts to address key solutions that support the health of people.
Undoubtedly there is much work ahead of us, but with Oregon's dedicated minds, hearts and souls convening in this fashion, we have an incredible opportunity to chart a better future for our changing oceans and all of us who depend on it.