Groups sought to monitor marine debris on Oregon coast

The Oregon Marine Debris Team is seeking volunteer groups to participate in a community grants program which will support monitoring for marine debris. Up to 10 local groups (either existing organizations or teams that unite for this effort) will be awarded $500 to assist them in regularly monitoring and submitting reports on marine debris that washes up at selected sites on the Oregon coast.

The project is part of an ongoing research program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Participating groups, using NOAA protocols, will be expected to gather data at regular monthly intervals on the types and amounts of marine debris reaching the shore at 10 small monitoring sites from the mouth of the Columbia River south to near the California border.  Once they’ve collected the information, volunteers will be expected to upload it to a website for NOAA analysis.

The team hopes to have one monitoring site within each of 10 regions, spanning the length of the coast; preference will be given to proposals for more remote areas with less human traffic and where it is less likely that litter will be picked up between monitoring sessions.

For information about how to submit a proposal, visit the OMDT blog.

No prior experience is necessary. Training and support will be provided by the OMDT, a partnership among four non-profit organizations—Surfrider, SOLVE, Washed Ashore and the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition—with the cooperation of Oregon Sea Grant.



Tsunami debris curriculum teaches about marine invaders

Workers clean live species from Japanese dock washed up on Agate Beach, 2012A new curriculum from Oregon Sea Grant uses lessons from the 2011 Japanese tsunami – and subsequent arrival of large docks and other artifacts of the disaster on US shores – to teach about science, engineering – and the risks posed by foreign species hitching a ride on floating debris.

Developed by Sea Grant’s Watershed and Invasive Species Education (WISE) program, the curriculum was tested at several workshops this year where teachers had a chance to experience activities focused on getting students and teachers excited about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) learning. Along with teaching about marine invaders, the activities looked at the power of tsunami waves, and how engineering can make shorefront communities more resilient to such disasters.

The entire curriculum is available, free, from Oregon Sea Grant’s Website.

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NOAA: Commercial fishing catch, value up from last year

Tuna on sale at Newport's commercial fishing dockU.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2012, valued at $5.1 billion, according to Fisheries of the United States 2012, an annual report released by NOAA today.

The value and pounds of fish and shellfish caught remain higher than the average for the previous ten years of 9.2 billion pounds and $4.1 billion, although this represents a small decrease from the high level of landings and value in 2011.

“Healthy, sustainable fish and shellfish stocks are incredibly important to our nation’s social and economic fabric,” said Sam Rauch, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The high landings and value of seafood in 2012 support the three-decade long effort that has gone into ending overfishing in the U.S. Thanks to our partners, the regional fishery management councils and especially U.S. fishermen, we now have some of the most responsibly managed, sustainable fisheries in the world.”

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Jane Lubchenco reflects on her term as NOAA chief

Jane LubchencoNEWPORT – Oregon State University scientist Jane Lubchenco will look back on her four years at the helm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for this Thursday’s edition of the weekly Hatfield Marine Science Center Seminar, starting at 3:30 pm in the HMSC Visitor Center auditorium.

Dr. Lubchenco will draw on her term as NOAA Administrator for the talk, “Science Serving Society: Reflections on My Four Years in D.C.” She plans to share tales and reflections about her experiences with the federal agency in charge of weather forecasts and warnings, climate records and outlooks, nautical charts, stewardship of oceans and fisheries management in US waters, and the research, satellites and education that support those activities. The talk with draw on examples dealing with scientific integrity, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, weather forecasts and warnings, satellites, fisheries and climate change.

The talk is free and open to the public, and will be preceded by refreshments in the HMSC Staff Lounge starting at 3 pm. (No food or drink is allowed in the auditorium)

The seminar will also be available as a live Internet broadcast  via Adobe Connect at

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HMSC Visitor Center gets creative to boost donations

Feeding Time, HMSC Visitor Center

NEWPORT – Oregon Sea Grant’s Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center is popular, but over time, donations – the only admission we ask people to pay – have been on the decline.

When staff and volunteers realized the problem – that few people carry cash these days – they decided to install a kiosk to accept donations via debit and credit cards. But things got complicated; as a government entity, the center isn’t allowed to operate a wireless payment kiosk, and other state laws prevent universities from piggybacking on contracts the state has with companies that provide the service.

But Sea Grant’s Mark Farley, who manages the Visitor Center, didn’t give up. With help from Dee Wendler of the University Administration Business Center and Wallace Rogers, State of Oregon manager of e-Government and Voice Services, the Center was able to contract with e-Government company NIC-USA, a company already under contract to the state, thus meeting state requirements without taking on additional legal and financial risk. Rogers’ office also  got the Department of Justice to review the proposed HMSC project for compliance with state and federal law.

The new kiosk is expected to be in place in January – and the arrangement could pave the way for others, including OSU Extension agents, to sell publications and other items at events outside their own county offices.

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OSG communicator off to ScienceOnline Oceans

Pat Kight, who handles Oregon Sea Grant’s Web and social media presence, is among some 200 science communicators and scientists who will be taking part in Science Online Oceans Oct. 11-13 in Miami, FL, for intensive “unworkshops” exploring the use of online technology and social media to communicate with and engage the public on issues of ocean science and conservation.

For reporting and commentary during and after the conference, follow her on Twitter, @kightpat.

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