Oregon's interests in ocean resource policy and management are not limited to state waters. Because the ocean is part of a much larger regional marine ecosystem, ocean uses and activities that occur in federal waters may affect Oregon's coastal environment and communities. For this reason, in 1991, the State of Oregon defined an Ocean Stewardship Area in the Ocean Resources Management Plan as the area extending through the state’s territorial sea out to the toe of the continental shelf.
The Ocean Stewardship Area is Oregon's area of direct concern and responsibility for ocean resource management. The Ocean Stewardship Area includes the entire continental margin from mean high water, across the continental shelf, and down to the bottom of the continental slope. Oregon does not claim ownership or possession of the entire Ocean Stewardship Area.
Designation of the Ocean Stewardship Area will neither change the jurisdictional boundaries of the state, nor change the federal legal regimes under which the resources of the exclusive economic zone are managed. Designation will not expand the state's federal consistency authority beyond activities which affect Oregon's coastal zone.
Within the Ocean Stewardship Area:
- Ocean resource uses and activities directly affect the interests of the State of Oregon;
- Oregon has management interests in oil and gas exploration and development, marine mineral mining, marine transportation and ports, marine birds and marine mammals, intertidal areas, ocean fisheries, oil spills, recreation, cultural resources, aesthetic qualities, and water and air quality;
- Oregon shares management responsibilities and interests in concert with federal resource management agencies.
Within the Ocean Stewardship Area, Oregon will:
- Conserve living marine resources, including biological communities and habitats;
- Give priority to renewable resources over nonrenewable resources;
- Support scientific research on marine ecosystems, ocean resources, and oceanographic conditions to develop better information upon which to make better ocean management decisions;
- Seek appropriate co-management arrangements with the federal government to ensure that ocean resources in the Ocean Stewardship Area are managed consistently in accordance with the policies of the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Plan;
- Coordinate and cooperate with adjacent states and encourage regional approaches to management of ocean areas, where appropriate:
- Involve local governments and the public in ocean resource management decisions;
- Develop marine management areas, where needed, to provide increased opportunities for public recreation, to protect biological communities and habitats, and/or to advance scientific understanding of the ocean.
Authorities Supporting the Ocean Stewardship Area
The concept of an Ocean Stewardship Area is framed in the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Act of 1987 and fully described in the Oregon Ocean Plan of 1990. The Ocean Stewardship Area is defined and the state’s interests described by Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goal 19, is as follows:
"The State of Oregon has interests in the conservation of ocean resources in an Ocean Stewardship Area, an ocean area where natural phenomena and human uses can affect uses and resources of Oregon’s territorial sea.
The Ocean Stewardship Area includes the state’s territorial sea, the continental margin seaward to the toe of the continental slope, and adjacent ocean areas. Within the Ocean Stewardship Area, the State of Oregon will:
- Use all applicable state and federal laws to promote its interests in Management and conservation of ocean resources;
- Encourage scientific research on marine ecosystems, ocean resources and uses, and oceanographic conditions to acquire information needed to make ocean and coastal-management decisions;
- Seek co-management arrangements with federal agencies when appropriate to ensure that ocean resources are managed and protected consistent with the policies of Statewide Planning Goal 19, Ocean Resources, and the Territorial Sea Plan; and
- Cooperate with other states and governmental entities directly and through regional mechanisms to manage and protect ocean resources and uses.
The Ocean Stewardship Area is not intended to change the seaward boundary of the State of Oregon, extend the seaward boundaries of the state’s federally approved coastal zone under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, affect the jurisdiction of adjacent coastal states, alter the authority of federal agencies to manage the resources of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, or limit or otherwise change federal agency responsibilities to comply with the consistency requirements of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act."
Oregon's Geographic Location Description and Marine Renewable Energy
In 2015, Oregon established a Geographic Location Description (GLD) area within the Ocean Stewardship Area of the outer continental shelf to address the potential effects of marine renewable energy development on the state’s coastal zone resources and uses. To learn more about GLD's visit the Geographic Location Description page.