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Bill creating three new marine reserves heads to governor's desk.

Byline: Saul Hubbard The Register-Guard

SALEM - A decade-in-the-making bill that would create three new no-fishing marine reserves off the Ore gon Coast received final legislative approval Tuesday in the Oregon House on a 57-2 vote.

Senate Bill 1510 now heads to Gov. John Kitz haber's desk. Kitzhaber, who kicked off the state's examination of the issue during his first term in 2000, will sign it, spokesman Tim Raphael said.

SB 1510 will create a marine reserve off Cape Perpetua just south of Yachats, as well as two others, one at Cascade Head near Lincoln City and one at Cape Falcon south of Cannon Beach. The three reserves, in which all fishing would be barred to protect marine life, would total about 40 square miles of ocean waters.

The bill also creates seven "marine protected areas" near those three locations where some limited fishing and crabbing would be permitted but trawling would not. Those areas - two of them near Cape Perpetua - would total about 50 square miles of offshore waters.

None of the fishing restrictions will go into effect for the next two years while scientists measure current marine activity in the protected spots. That "baseline" data would allow scientists to observe what effect the reserves have on aquatic life once implemented.

Despite objections by the coastal fishing industry, lawmakers moved the bill forward, in part because of fears that environmental groups would put forward a ballot measure seeking to create much larger reserves along the coastline.

Rep. Jean Cowan, a Newport Democrat, said Tuesday that the "well-being" of the coast, both for marine life and fishing interests, was the driving factor behind the legislation.

"We will learn from this limited (marine reserve) system," she said.

The first two reserves in Oregon - at Redfish Rocks near Port Orford and Otter Rock between Newport and Depoe Bay - went into effect this year. Similar reserves are in place along the coast in Washington and California.

Ben Enticknap of Oceana, a national nonprofit ocean conservation group, said he was "thrilled" by the Legislature's action Tuesday.

"We know that these reserves will increase marine life health and diversity," he said. "The science speaks for itself."

Enticknap said that, while his organization "didn't get everything" it wanted, the broad support for the measure in coastal communities "is what I think is important."

"It's those communities that will be the long-term stewards of the reserves," he said.

He added that, while a ballot measure seeking more reserve areas "is always an option, the Legislature did the right thing today."
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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Feb 22, 2012
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