When you look seaward from Newport, you see endless ocean clear to the horizon. But on that horizon there are people mapping and planning the future of Oregon coastal waters. Not only out to the state’s territorial three mile marker, but far beyond. They are zoning the sea like cities zone their lands. Uses A, B, and C for this area, and X, Y, Z for over there. No doing C,D and F over here, and no T,U and V way over there. Add in terms like commercial fishing, dredge deposits, wave energy farms, aquatic and aviary habitat protection, whale watching, surfing and scuba diving and you start to get the picture.
Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association’s Onno Husing told the Newport Port Commission Tuesday night that although this “zoning” approach has made a lot of coastal people nervous, he assured them “It’s a good thing. We’re all about to learn a lot more about our coast and its waters that go out for many miles.”
Husing held up a map showing one of ten overlays that will depict the many uses of our coastal waters and how they are dependent on specific stretches of ocean. Husing said a very expensive, privately funded survey is being conducted to track the Oregon Coast economy by “following the dollars.” He said it’s very specific. For instance, it follows a fish caught at sea, being sold on the dock in Newport, then to a local restaurant, to the kitchen and then onto a plate placed before a customer. Then it tracks how the income is circulated throughout the community. The same for visitors on whale watching boats, bicyclists on paths, seniors on tour buses, port operations, scientific research, shipping lanes and on and on.
Husing said that never before has there been such a hugely detailed attempt been made at ascertaining exactly how Oregon’s coastal waters take care of coastal communities and the state. Husing said this emerging blueprint of “valued ocean use” will be looking to head-off major conflicts that can damage that intricately interdependent system.
Husing acknowledged one commissioner’s concern that regardless of what this new “sea-going land use plan” might produce, money always trumps plans if there is enough of it. Husing said, “This emerging Oregon Territorial Sea Plan has already passed its first test.” He said a large wave energy company, Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), had made it clear it wants to build a huge wave energy farm just offshore from Reedsport. Upon hearing about OPT’s plans, Governor Ted Kulongoski thanked them for their interest in Oregon but told OPT that any dominant use of the Oregon Coast must first meet the test of the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, as it relates to statewide land use goals. Specifically Goal 19, the one pertaining to ocean resources. Kulongoski told them that he doubted OPT’s plans could meet that test offshore from Reedsport. Husing said OPT pledged to play by the rules and that they’re still committed to developing wave energy off the Oregon Coast. He added that “opportunity zones” for companies like OPT will be included in any final mapping documents. He said such “ocean land use” maps are also part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s plans to better manage ocean resources off our nation’s coasts. “In fact, it’s gone international,” he said.
Husing said it shows that Oregon is serious about proper use and preservation of all it’s physical resources even though plans for coastal waters are not yet finalized.
Husing told the port commission that they expect to have the Oregon Territorial Waters Plan (1.0) in place by the end of next year. But he quickly added that it will always be a work-in-progress as more research fine tunes the data.Share on Facebook