Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve gave a presentation during a Nehalem City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 8. Coordinator Margaret Treadwell, marine coordinator for the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) oversees five marine reserve sites on the Oregon coast.
“They were established between 2012 and 2016 from state legislation,” Treadwell said. “They’re in Oregon’s territorial waters, which go out three miles from shore.”
A rule for marine reserves is all removal of marine life is prohibited, Treadwell said. This is part of the marine reserve’s goal to conserve marine habitats and biodiversity.
“Marine reserves are open to all non-extractive activities,” Treadwell said. “That includes boating without fishing equipment deployed, beach walking, surfing and tidepool exploration.”
Cape Falcon is the northern most marine reserve in Oregon. It is located off Oswald West State Park and is 20 square miles.
Treadwell said the second goal of marine reserves is scientific research. That research is teaching Friends of Cape Falcon about Oregon’s ocean environment.
“The marine reserve is a little bit too new to draw any conclusions about trends over time,” Treadwell said. “In Oregon, because Oregon’s ocean is so cold, and many species are long-lived and slow to grow and mature, you really need long-term data sets on the order of 20-30 years to start seeing some ocean changes.”
Right now, conclusions cannot be drawn but the marine reserve is starting to get those data sets, Treadwell added. Some fish can live 70 to 100 years or longer.
“The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and some of the marine reserve community teams, do some human dimensions research or socioeconomic research,” Treadwell said. “This ties into that third goal of avoiding adverse impacts of ocean users and to coastal communities.”
This research shows how marine reserves are perceived by people. Coastal residents are significantly more aware of marine reserves than I-5 corridor residents, Treadwell said. The research is ongoing.
“People who visit the Oregon coast often or those of us who are lucky enough to live out here, have a better understanding of current ocean issues in general,” Treadwell said.
Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve supports ODFW with outreach and information about the marine reserve. This includes activities such as hikes, lectures and boat tours. There are Friends groups at each of the five marine reserves on the coast, doing outreach.
“We organize community science in the marine reserves, which includes seabird monitoring with Portland Audubon,” Treadwell said. “We do that out at Devil’s Cauldron in Oswald West.”
Friends does an intertidal BioBlitz at Neahkahnie Beach in July to record as many species as possible. They also work with Oregon State Parks and are working on making interpretive signs.
“The marine reserve kind of maintains what makes our area special by creating that refuge for wildlife and enhancing the visitors experience,” Treadwell said.
The research increases knowledge of Oregon’s resources. The monitoring for scuba surveys occurs every few years and hook and line surveys take place every other year.
“There is also currently the Draft Management Plan for Cape Falcon Marine Reserve,” Treadwell said. “That was released in January and is open for public comment for the month of February.”
People can read and comment on the plan at: oregonmarinereserves.com/ 2021/01/14/management-plan-2/