For two days in Newport in May, over 40 natural and social scientists and agency natural resource managers met to discuss research and monitoring priorities in Oregon’s nearshore. Convened by the Oregon Ocean Science Trust with funding support from The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Packard Foundation, the goal of the workshop was to identify and prioritize research and monitoring funding needs, scalable to budget resources available, to provide baseline and trend data and inform key research questions. These research questions could relate specifically to changing ocean conditions such as ocean acidification and hypoxia, marine habitat, fish and wildlife, and the vulnerability and resilience of coastal communities to changing ocean conditions and the effects on marine resources.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust is intended to serve as a funding mechanism for research and monitoring in Oregon, and by convening an interdisciplinary Science Summit to prioritize funding needs, the Trust will better be able to direct available funds to the most relevant and urgent areas. The attendees at the Summit were a Who’s Who of oceanography, fisheries science, marine ecology, geochemistry, economics, sociology, and anthropology. It would have been enough to be a fly on the wall for this event, but I was fortunate to be one of the breakout session facilitators. The breakouts were organized to spread representatives of different disciplines out among all the groups, making the groups as academically diverse as possible. Each group was then tasked with generating research and monitoring plans at three different budget levels that would address key nearshore questions. There were great back-and-forth discussions, and it was fascinating when all the groups came back together, to see how each group had approached the tasks. As a facilitator, I used a much lighter touch than I otherwise might have because it seemed like a good idea to let the conversation and exchange between group members really develop, and then bring everybody back to the template we were given. The end result will be a report with key research themes, questions, and monitoring approaches identified, as well as a plan for a comprehensive research and monitoring program for Oregon’s nearshore with three budget levels identified. The event, which was conceived of in late January, came together quickly and nearly everyone invited was able to attend, and produced substantial results which can be used to guide funding for important efforts in the nearshore as we face changing ocean conditions and the related impacts on communities. Definitely one of the coolest gatherings I’ve gotten to attend in my time with OSG!