Thursday, May 20, 2010

California, Oregon, and Washington Take Action Toward Healthy Oceans, Coasts, and Coastal Communities,


May 20, 2010

Media Contacts:
Jillian Schoene, Oregon, 503-378-5040
Jeff Macedo, California, 916-445-4571
Karina Shagren, Washington, 360-902-4122

West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health releases implementation plans

Salem – The Governors of California, Oregon, and Washington today released eight issue-specific work plans to improve and sustain the health of the three states’ shared coastal and ocean resources and the communities that depend on them. With $500,000 in new funding from the federal government, projects funded by existing federal and state investments will be able to continue and the three states will begin to look at which projects to start next.

“These action plans represent the balanced, collective approach we need to ensure our ocean continues to be sustainably managed for coastal communities and marine life,” Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said. “The best way to protect the interests of coastal communities is to preserve our existing ocean resources and identify new economic development opportunities, such as wave energy. We can tap our ocean as a new source of green power in a way that protects the traditional uses of our ocean.”

In 2006 Governors Schwarzenegger, Kulongoski, and Gregoire committed to taking action to protect the states’ shared coastal and ocean resources. In July 2008, the three Governors released a West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health (WCGA) Action Plan that identified common ocean and coastal management priorities. The regional agreement was the first of its kind on the West Coast and also aligns well with federal planning efforts currently under way under the Obama Administration’s Ocean Policy Task Force established in 2009.

The three Governors are now releasing final implementation plans for eight issue areas identified by the WCGA two years ago: 1. Climate Change, 2. Polluted Runoff, 3. Marine Debris, 4. Spartina Eradication, 5. Renewable Ocean Energy, 6. Ocean Awareness and Literacy, 7. Seafloor Mapping, and 8. Sediment Management. The issue areas represent the need to clean up the ocean, protect it from future damage and the importance of balancing new uses of the ocean with existing practices such as fishing and habitat protection.

“We are moving from planning to action with the release of these implementation plans,” said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Together we made a commitment to address climate change, combat ocean garbage, reduce water pollution, protect our marine habitats, and to unlock the mysteries of our offshore waters by mapping the seafloor off all three states. Today we are taking a bold new step in fulfilling that commitment.”

The implementation plans were developed by groups know as Action Coordination Teams (ACTs), comprised of federal, state, local, tribal and stakeholder representatives on the West Coast. Members of these tri-state teams are experts in their fields and have firsthand experience addressing these challenges. Their final plans reflect the numerous comments received from the public when the implementation plans were released in draft form.

“An enormous amount of work was put into these work plans to benefit ocean and coastal health and our working communities,” Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “This shows the strongest commitment on the part of our citizens and experts. We owe them our deepest gratitude and thanks. Now we must turn our full attention to getting plans transformed into real, on-the-ground work.”

These eight comprehensive plans identify and prioritize on-the-ground projects to ensure successful long-term coordination and implementation of regional priorities identified in the Action Plan. Examples of actions identified within these plans and active projects in Oregon include:

Completing a high resolution map of the seafloor off of California, Oregon, and Washington, by 2020. This crucial information will help communities prepare for tsunami waves, inform the siting of ocean uses such as wave energy projects, and inform fisheries management. Governor Kulongoski secured federal and state funds to map Oregon’s seafloor. This work is ongoing and at the close of this summer, approximately 44 percent of the Oregon Territorial Sea will have been mapped. Just 5 percent was mapped as of early 2009.
Oregon is leading the effort in evaluating the potential for renewable ocean energy projects and assembling data and information to help identify and address potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of such development. The state’s work, in collaboration with the fishing community, scientists and the private sector, will ensure that renewable energy development occurs in areas least likely to harm fisheries, sensitive marine habitats, or local coastal communities.
Oregon applied for and received federal funds to reduce marine debris. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will employ commercial fishermen to remove 180 metric tons of derelict Dungeness crab pots and other fishing debris that is dangerous to fishing boats and marine life. The project expects to create or maintain 48 jobs.

To read the full text of the eight final work plans or to learn more about the WCGA, please visit Two additional WCGA draft work plans on Sustainable Communities and Integrated Ecosystem Assessments are soon to be released for public comment.