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Jun-08-2009 06:51printcomments

Oregon Coast Climate Conference Coincides with World Oceans Day (AUDIO)

This week, the Oregon Senate is expected to decide on a bill to study six prospective marine reserve areas for the Oregon coast that could eventually be part of a national reserve system.

A view from Oregon's magnificent Cape Lookout.
A view from Oregon's magnificent Cape Lookout.
Salem-News.com photo by Austin King

(NEWPORT, Ore. ONS) - Today's celebration of "World Oceans Day" is especially timely for Oregon this year, as the Oregon Shores Coastal Climate Action Conference gets underway in Newport. For both events, a major topic is healthy oceans and climate change.

A biologist and keynote speaker at the Newport conference, Dr. Jennifer Hoffman studies how marine ecosystems adapt to changing climate conditions.

She acknowledges there's been a lot of negative publicity about ocean health, but says there is also a positive angle to the story - that oceans are resilient and can help stabilize the climate. She envisions an integrated system of marine reserves along the nation's coastline to create healthy buffer zones, much like park systems on land.

"National parks are places where people can go and appreciate the American wilderness heritage. I would love to see something more like that with the marine world - national marine parks."

Hoffman says marine reserves are gaining popularity in other states, including California and Florida, because they work as buffer zones that protect against the effects of climate change.

The proposals, she notes, are coming from coalitions of unlikely partners, bringing together fishing groups and conservationists.

"There's been a sort-of mistrust between the fishing community and the conservation community, and I think they're not inherently contradictory - they both want abundant oceans."

This week, the Oregon Senate is expected to decide on a bill to study six prospective marine reserve areas for the Oregon coast that could eventually be part of a national reserve system.

The House passed it unanimously, and Hoffman says so far, the bill hasn't seen any opposition.

More information about World Oceans Day is available online, at theoceanproject.org. Details about the Ocean Shores Coastal Climate Action Conference also are online, at oregonshores.org, the Web site of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition.

Special thanks to Oregon News Service
Deb Courson
Reporter: Deborah Smith


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