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Friday, December 15, 2006

Port Orford, Oregon

Surfrider members are partnering with commercial fishermen in Port Orford, Oregon on a community-based ocean management project. The goal: an "Ocean Stewardship Area" that will protect the rich marine ecology of the region while also promoting sustainable fishing opportunities for the local fleet.

The 'Stewardship Area' project is being led by the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) with support from its project partners - Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Marine Conservation Council, and Ecotrust. The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team is a local non-profit that involves commercial fishermen in the science, management, and marketing of its local fishery. Leesa Cobb, Director of POORT, is a fisherman's wife and longtime Surfrider member.

For the past year, Surfrider volunteers and staff have been working with the fishing fleet to formalize their community-based approach to ocean management. This has included establishing a 'Community Advisory Team' that provides a formal link between the fishermen and members of the broader community. Surfrider folks have also helped organize public forums and develop educational opportunities for local citizens.

The Stewardship Area will provide a seascape for implementing ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches. Pacific Marine Conservation Council is facilitating the development of a spatial management scheme that will be informed by local knowledge, best available science, and the identified goals and objectives of the community. Concurrently, Surfrider staff and volunteers are working to secure state-level endorsements of the process and a formal recognition of this bottom-up approach to ocean management.

Surfrider volunteers have also recently established a water quality laboratory at Pacific High School. Water quality monitoring efforts in Port Orford will increase from the current level of 3 testing locations to a total of 6 locations, including 2-3 freshwater sites. Sampling and lab analysis will be conducted by Surfrider volunteers, Pacific High School students, commercial fishermen, and other interested citizens. The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) is engaging as formal partners in this effort, and data collected will be integrated into POORT’s nearshore monitoring program. The water quality testing program will also support the fleet's efforts to address land-sea connections, as the preliminary boundaries of the stewardship area extend inland up into the watershed.

Surfrider's work towards supporting this community-based project is ongoing and reflective of our commitment to involving citizens in local efforts to protect their coast and ocean. Thanks to Leesa, Cobb, Michael Smith and the rest of our volunteers and partners for their leadership in this important effort


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