Report: West Coast needs more research on fisheries, marine science, climate change


CORVALLIS, Ore. – The West Coast critically needs more research about fisheries, ocean health, coastal hazards and climate change – among other topics – according to a new report on regional marine research and information needs.

The report was produced by Oregon Sea Grant under a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is available online at: http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/research/RegionalPlanning.

Partnering with Oregon Sea Grant in developing the West Coast report were Washington, California and University of Southern California Sea Grant programs, as well as state, federal and tribal agencies. The Sea Grant effort is endorsed by all three West Coast governors, and the new reports aligns with the action plan of the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health.

The document grew out of an extensive process of public workshops and surveys in all three states during 2007 and 2008. Nearly 1,000 ocean and coastal stakeholders – representing interests ranging from coastal residents, businesses, community organizations and decision-makers to conservationists, fishing interests, researchers and resource managers – took part in the effort to identify the region's needs.

The result is a 56-page document that sorts West Coast research needs into eight categories: 

  • Vitality of coastal communities and marine operations;
  • Ocean and coastal governance and management of multiple uses;
  • Fisheries and aquaculture;
  • Marine ecosystem structure and function;
  • Ocean health and stressors;
  • Physical ocean processes, related climate change and physical coastal hazards;
  • Water quality and pollution;
  • Resilience and adaptability to hazards and climate change.

Cutting across all those categories, stakeholders said, are needs for a deeper understanding of climate change, attention to ocean education and literacy, and broader access to data and information. The report is seen as “an excellent guiding document,” according to Stephen Brandt, director of Oregon Sea Grant, which coordinated the effort.

“This report is intended to spark regional-scale initiatives and investments in natural and social science research to provide the best possible science for wise policy and resource-management decisions,” Brandt said.

The West Coast effort is one of 10 that NOAA is supporting across the country in response to recent studies and reports from groups such as the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative calling for a regional approach to coordinating, planning and setting priorities for ocean and coastal science. 

Oregon Sea Grant, founded in 1968 and based at Oregon State University, supports an integrated program of research, education, and public outreach to help people understand, responsibly use, and conserve ocean and coastal resources.