A new report to the Oregon legislature recommends strategies and actions for monitoring, adapting, raising awareness of and building resiliency to changing ocean conditions that are critical to managing our coastal resources for generations to come. If you’ve been paying any attention to the global climate issues that are currently impacting our oceans and coastal communities, you’ve likely at the very least heard that ocean chemistry is changing. At the top of these ocean changes that are impacting our coastal critters, ecosystems and ocean economies today are Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia. In response, the Oregon legislature passed legislation in 2017, directing the formation of a Statewide Council (OAH Council) to develop strategies and recommended actions through a report to the legislature by the ides of September 2018.
Earlier this year, we detailed a primer on the newly formed OAH Council as well as the types of recommendations and strategies we’ve seen out of our Washington and California neighbors – it’s a great place to start if you need some background on the issue and how Surfrider has been engaging with our chapters in Oregon. The Council’s full report to the Legislature and Ocean Policy Advisory Council can be downloaded above but here we’ll break down the skinny for you. The report details five Theme Areas with 38 specific actions, 7 of which are prioritized for immediate attention. We’ll just cover those themes and prioritized actions since that’s what we’ll likely see some legislative action on during the upcoming 2019 session.
Priority OAH Report Themes
**Note, I’ve condensed and re-worded/interpreted this information below for the sake of brevity and readability, but by all means check out the actual executive summary here for the long-short version.
Theme 1: Strengthen science, monitoring and research to inform adaptation and mitigation of impacts.
Theme 2: Reduce causes and develop a coordinated approach for CO2 management and mitigation.
Theme 3: Promote resilience to ocean chemistry changes, both within human communities and ocean ecosystems.
Theme 4: Raise awareness of ocean chemistry changes impacts, science and solutions.
Theme 5: Commit resources to actions – support a long-term policy approach for funding and capacity.
Surfrider’s chapter network has been extremely active in all of these thematic areas through programmatic activities like helping to monitor and tell the story of ocean chemistry changes in Oregon’s Marine Reserves. On the ground we invest in key strategies that can reduce stressors to OAH, such as reducing point and non-point source pollution through our clean water initiative. We also recently partnered with OSU on a short documentary to highlight solution-based strategies to these daunting issues of changing ocean chemistry:
Priority OAH Report Actions
The recommended priority actions within these themes for immediate attention of the legislature are detailed below. Some of these may come out as stand alone bills and legislative concepts in 2019 while others may play into the Oregon’s Cap and Invest legislative discussion (such as Action 2.1.). Not surprisingly, many of the priority actions call for policy and capacity from decision makers and resource managers.
Action 1.1:Support and maintain Oregon’s monitoring of OAH – oceanographic and biological responses.
Action 2.1: Incorporate OAH into CO2 management and mitigation in the state
Action 3.2: Support new initiatives to promote natural ecosystem resilience.
Action 4.2: Keep legislators and policy-makers up-to-date on the science impacts of and solutions for OAH
Action 5.1: Develop high-level policy guidance for the state’s agencies on prioritizing OAH.
It remains to be seen how the Oreogn legislature will react, but we have some strong opinions that the time to act is now. As Surfrider Foundation looks to the 2019 legislative session, it’s clear that we’ll be promoting and educating legislators on many of these OAH actions. We’re looking forward to seeing what types of legislative concepts we can support to better prepare Oregon’s response and adaptation to our changing ocean conditions.