Port Orford, Oregon: Stewardship Area Planning
STEWARDSHIP AREA PLANNING MOVES FORWARD
by Leesa Cobb and Pete Stauffer
Port Orford, Oregon (September 7th, 2007) – Commercial fishermen in Port Orford are moving forward with plans to establish a “Community Stewardship Area” through a bottom-up process facilitated by the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT). Thirty-four local fishermen have recently signed their support for the concept, goals, and principles of a stewardship area that will encompass local fishing grounds and adjacent watersheds. The overarching purpose is to preserve the biological integrity of local marine resources, while supporting and promoting sustainable fisheries.
The process of establishing a stewardship area began nearly two years during a series of public meetings with fishermen, community leaders, and other stakeholders. Participants recognized that existing state and federal management could be greatly enhanced through engaging local residents in collaborative science, development of local management proposals, and watershed stewardship. An inclusive and transparent planning process was soon initiated involving fishermen and other interested members of the community. Surfrider's role has been to provide support for this effort with respect to community organizing, policy development, and water quality monitoring.
Stewardship area planning is embracing an ecosystem-based approach that prioritizes the sustainability of the entire nearshore system, including the resource users that are dependent upon it. The process is focused on integrating local knowledge to manage the marine environment at a finer scale that makes more sense for the community. As part of the planning effort, participants are also considering spatialmanagement approaches such as marine reserves that can help protect reproductive capacity of priority species, and provide insurance in the absence of detailed stock assessment information.
Additionally, the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) is working to secure policy space for the community process at the state and federal levels.While current bottom- up efforts in PortOrford already provide significant benefits to both the resource and ocean users, the full benefits of such a process cannot be fully realized without formal recognition from government agencies. Accordingly, POORT is working to secure state-level endorsements of the process to support this bottom-up approach to ocean management.
Stewardship area planning has also benefited from strategic partnerships that provide support for community process. Project partners include Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Marine Conservation Council, Ecotrust,Golden Marine Consulting, and the Marine Resources Assessment Group. Engagement of these organizations is at the invitation of the POORT Board, and these groups add critical capacity for the process with respect to science, policy, and community organizing.
The plan for a Community Stewardship Area represents an unprecedented approach to managing marine resources. Through engaging fleet and community participation, the hope is to achieve an improvedmanagement scheme that will sustain and enhance traditional fisheries and the nearshore ecosystem,while avoiding the boom-and-bust cycle that has plaguedPortOrford and other fishing dependent communities in the past.
The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that involves commercial fishermen in the science, management, and marketing of its local fishery. For more information on stewardship area planning, please visit the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team(POORT) at their office, or on the website at oceanresourceteam.org.