Oregon's Marine Reserve Planning Process

Oregon coast, Photo credit: John Meyer

In 2002, the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC), which is a legislatively mandated marine policy advisory body to the Governor of Oregon, recommended a “limited system” of marine research reserves to “test their effectiveness in meeting marine resource conservation objectives”. After a restructuring of OPAC in 2003, the governor directed the new OPAC in 2005 to implement the 2002 marine reserve recommendation. 

With the assistance of a Marine Reserve Working Group and Science and Technical Advisory Committee, OPAC recently concluded the public marine reserve policy planning and recommendation process. In a letter to the Governor, OPAC recommended that six areas move forward for further consideration as potential sites for marine reserves. Sites at two locations will serve as pilot sites, three areas are recommended for further study, and interested parties in a final area are encouraged to collaborate further to develop a marine reserve proposal. These recommendations are now being discussed by the Oregon legislature, who will decide the best way to move forward with marine reserves in Oregon.


PISCO has contributed to the Oregon marine reserve discussion in the following ways:

  • A PISCO scientist participated in an advisory capacity on OPAC’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), providing technical input for the marine reserve planning process.

  • PISCO scientists and policy coordinators provided information about MPA design guidelines to members of OPAC and the STAC through presentations and printed educational material about the science of marine reserves. This scientific information was used to inform discussions and deliberations of OPAC.

  • PISCO scientists and coordinators participated in OPAC’s Marine Reserve Size and Spacing Workshop to discuss what is known about Oregon’s nearshore oceanography, marine habitat, and species’ biological characteristics. The goal of the workshop was to produce a consensus document for OPAC that reviewed existing science and provided recommendations for Oregon reserve size and spacing guidelines.

  • PISCO has discussed some of our lessons learned from California’s Marine Life Protection Act process with Oregon state agencies. PISCO scientists provided experience and input from California for Oregon marine reserve design criteria as participants at OPAC’s Marine Reserve Size and Spacing Workshop.

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