The State of Oregon has been engaged in a process to consider marine reserves along its coast for over a decade. This timeline article provides an overview of Oregon’s process, from the first conversations to the present day.

The early years

The state of Oregon first considered marine reserves as a conservation tool in response to a request from the Governor's Office in July, 2000, for the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) to gather facts, engage the public, fishing industry, and other interested parties in a thorough deliberation of the issue of marine protected areas, and provide recommendations on state policies appropriate to the Territorial Sea Plan before making any decisions about additional area-based management in Oregon's Ocean Stewardship Area. The Governor's Office cited several nationwide and regional developments in marine protected areas as reasons for Oregon to assess the issue and develop a response based on policies in Goal 19, Ocean Resources, the 1990 Oregon Ocean Resources Management Plan, and the 1994 Oregon Territorial Sea Plan

The state then engaged in policy conversations about different types of marine protected areas, including marine protected areas, sanctuaries, and marine reserves. The following reports document those early efforts:


Marine Reserves Planning

In March of 2008, Governor Kulongoski issued Executive Order 08-07 entrusting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to work with the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) to identify possible marine reserve sites in Oregon's Territorial Sea for recommendation. The executive order called for public nominations of sites and identified key sideboards, which shaped the recommendation process. In the Fall of 2008, twenty site proposals were submitted by community groups and individuals. Out of those twenty proposals, OPAC recommended six areas to move forward in the process. At the end of 2008, OPAC forwarded their recommendations to the Governor who endorsed the recommendations and requested marine reserves implementation funding for the 2009-2011 biennium in the Governor’s Recommended Budget.   


Marine Reserves Implementation Phase 1

The 2009 Oregon Legislature codified OPAC’s 2008 recommendations in House Bill 3013. The legislation required two sites, Otter Rock and Redfish Rocks, be established, studied, monitored, evaluated and enforced. Community teams were formed to further evaluate and make recommendations to ODFW on potential marine reserves at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, and Cape Perpetua. Support was provided to the International Port of Coos Bay to lead a community team to consider development of a marine reserve proposal in the Cape Arago-Seven Devils area.


Marine Reserves Implementation Phase II

The 2012 Oregon Legislature codified OPAC’s 2010 site and allowance recommendations in Senate Bill 1510. The legislation mandates three additional sites at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, and Cape Perpetua be established, studied, monitored, evaluated and enforced.

ODFW is to report to the Legislature in 2013 on the development of a marine reserves work plan. By March of 2023, there is to be a report on the five marine reserve sites including an assessment of social, economic and environmental factors and recommendations for administrative actions and legislative proposals related to marine reserves and marine protected areas.