Testing berth to aid wave energy research, development

Ocean Sentinel platformThis summer, a boxy yellow platform called the Ocean Sentinel will anchor in heavy swells off the Oregon coast and help open a new stage in the effort to turn wave energy into usable electricity.

Built at a cost of $1.5 million, the rugged craft will loosen a bottleneck that has dogged the startup wave-energy industry: Getting equipment out of the lab and tested in the brutal conditions of the open ocean.

Europe has a similar device, but the Oregon berth is the first mobile platform to be deployed in U.S. waters and made available for use by small firms that couldn’t afford to do testing in any other way.

“This testing capability is a first for wave energy,” said Annette von Jouanne, a professor of electrical engineering at Oregon State University (OSU) who came up with the idea.

The platform is a project of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Project, a joint effort between OSU, Washington State University and the US Department of Energy. It is one of three such centers established around the US to aid in research and development in the fledgling wave/tidal energy field. It is expected to be fully deployed late this year.

Oregon Sea Grant, which helped fund von Jouanne’s early proof-of-concept research, continues to work with researchers, developers and coastal communities to work through questions and issues surrounding marine renewable energy, from siting to possible conflicts with commercial fishing.

Learn more:

OSU unveils new maps of Oregon ocean

Map of sea floor off Cape AragoCORVALLIS – After more than two years of intense field work and digital cartography, researchers have unveiled new maps of the seafloor off Oregon that cover more than half of the state’s territorial waters – a collaborative project that will provide new data for scientists, marine spatial planners, and the fishing industry.

The most immediate benefit will be improved tsunami inundation modeling for the Oregon coast, according to Chris Goldfinger, director of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University, who led much of the field work.

“Understanding the nature of Oregon’s Territorial Sea is critical to sustaining sport and commercial fisheries, coastal tourism, the future of wave energy, and a range of other ocean-derived ecosystem services valued by Oregonians,” Goldfinger said. “The most immediate focus, though, is the threat posed by a major tsunami.

“Knowing what lies beneath the surface of coastal waters will allow much more accurate predictions of how a tsunami will propagate as it comes ashore,” he added. “We’ve also found and mapped a number of unknown reefs and other new features we’re just starting to investigate, now that the processing work is done.”

The mapping project was a collaborative effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, David Evans and Associations, and Fugro. It was funded by NOAA and the Oregon Department of State Lands.

The primary mapping platform was the vessel Pacific Storm, operated by the OSU Marine Mammal Institute. Oregon-based fishing vessels taking part in Oregon Sea Grant’s Scientist and Fisherman Exchange program – the F/V Michelle Ann, the F/V Delma Ann, and the F/V Miss Linda – assisted with ground truth sampling and video surveys.

Port Orford launches national tour of Ocean Frontiers film

PORT ORFORD  – Ocean Frontiers, a new feature-length film about ocean management and conservation, will launch its national tour in Port Orford,  which stars in the film as an example of how science and fishing can work together to manage marine resources.

The debut screening starts at 5 pm Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Savoy Theatre in downtown Port Orford. followed by a reception in the nearby Community Building, with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber,  First Lady Cylvia Hayes, representatives of state and local government and members of the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) expected to attend. A second screening is scheduled for  4 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $10 and are available only online, at www.oceanfrontiersportorford.eventbrite.com

The film will also be shown at the Performing Arts Center in Newport at 7 pm Feb. 22.

Port Orford is one of several US coastal communities featured in the 80-minute film, which tracks the evolution of marine resource management from a “maximum allowable catch” approach to a growing recognition that resources are finite, and need to be managed for the future as well as the present. The film explores the shift toward  ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning tools that rely on science, and an informed and engaged public. Communities from the Pacific Northwest to Boston Harbor, the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico and even the cornfields of Iowa are featured.

POORT figures prominently in the film as an example of how resource users,  scientists, conservationists and others can work together to help understand, protect and manage ocean areas for the benefit of the resource – and the people who depend on it. Ongoing collaboration between fishermen and scientists in the south coast community was a strong factor in the state’s decision to establish one of Oregon’s first marine reserves at Redfish Rocks, just off  Port Orford.

Oregon Sea Grant has supported the community-based effort since its early days, helping bring fishermen and scientists together and providing information and assistance as the group grew and evolved. Sea Grant helped the community design and conduct surveys and interviews that let the town  build its first  long-form community profile to give resource managers greater insight into how fisheries reach deep into the community’s social and economic life. The format and interview has since been applied to other Oregon coastal towns, and is proving to be a model for communities  elsewhere in the US.

Learn more:

Watch a 10-minute trailer for the film:

Funding Opportunity: Sea Grant Aquaculture Research Program 2012 Request for preproposals

NOAA Sea Grant has announced a funding opportunity for its Aquaculture Research Program 2012 to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes aquaculture.

Priorities for this FY 2012 competition include: Research to inform specific regulatory decisions; Research that supports multi-use spatial planning; and Socio-economic research targeted to understand aquaculture in a larger context. Proposals must be able to express how the proposed work will have a high probability of significantly advancing U.S. marine aquaculture development in the short-term (1-2 years) or medium-term (3-5 years).

To view the full announcement Go to www.grants.gov and perform a basic search using the Funding Opportunity Number: NOAA-OAR-SG-2012-2003249.

This is a two-stage competition, with preproposals and full proposals. Each stage has specific guidance and deadlines, stated in the announcement, with Preliminary Proposals due 2/7/2012, and Full Proposals due 4/17/2012. Applicants must submit a preproposal in order to be eligible to submit a full proposals. Preliminary Proposals are to be submitted directly to the National Office via e-mail.

Pay careful attention to the instructions and contact Sarah Kolesar, Research Coordinator for the Oregon Sea Grant Program (sarah.kolesar@oregonstate.edu, 541-737-8695) as soon as possible to discuss proposals.

Fish sanctuary takes shape off Port Orford

China RockfishPORT ORFORD  – As a new marine sanctuary takes shape off the coast of this southern Oregon town, researchers are using the area to study the life cycles and feeding patterns of rockfish and other species, in an effort to understand how much space a fish population needs to thrive.

Public Radio International’s Living on Earth looks at the work of OSU biologist and graduate researcher Tom Calvanese, who’s getting assistance from local fishermen as he works to learn more about the fish and their needs.

This unusual alliance between fishermen and scientists is becoming more common on Oregon’s coast, thanks in part to Oregon Sea Grant’s decades-long efforts to bring the two groups together to benefit from each other’s knowledge.

Read and listen to the Living on Earth episode.

(The episode was originally produced for Ocean Gazing, an ocean-science podcast produced by Ari Daniel Shapiro for COSEE NOW (the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Networked Ocean World.)

Register for the Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Science Workshop

Registration is now open for the OSU Marine Council and Oregon Sea Grant sponsored Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Science Workshop. The workshop will be held November 29-30 at the OSU Alumni Center, and is open to all Oregon academic faculty. You can find out more information, register for the workshop, and register to give a brief presentation about your research at the following website:


New video explains Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Coastal and marine spatial planning is a critical emerging topic in ocean management, policy and science – and a major thrust of Oregon Sea Grant’s strategic plan for the coming years. It’s all about managing multiple ocean uses and needs in ways that minimize conflict, protect vital resources and sustain the ocean’s ability to provide many things to many people, from food to energy to a healthy planet. Yet the topic is little known or understood outside of regulatory and academic circles.

To learn more about what CMSP is – and is not – check out this new, narrated video from the National Sea Grant Law Center:

(Based at the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant program at the University of Mississippi, the National Sea Grant Law Center provides legal research, education, training, outreach and advice on issues of ocean and coastal law.)

Site off Newport chosen for wave-energy test facility

Wave site

Wave energy test site location

NEWPORT – A one-square-mile site off the coast near Newport has been selected for a new wave energy test program, the first of its kind in the United States and the closest one this side of Scotland.

The siting decision was announced Wednesday by officials from the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center,  a collaborative research effort of Oregon State University and the University of Washington.

The selection follows two years of discussions with the Oregon coastal community, fishermen, state agencies, wave energy developers and scientists. It is within Oregon territorial waters, near the Hatfield Marine Science Center and close to onshore roads and marine support services.

Public comments on the proposal are still being sought, officials said.

The site will be about one square mile in size, two miles northwest of Yaquina Head on the central Oregon coast, in water about 150-180 feet deep with a sandy seafloor. It is exposed to unobstructed waves that have traveled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. The facility is being funded by the state of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“If all of our plans and permits are approved, we hope to have the test facility available for wave energy developers to use by this fall,” said Annette von Jouanne, an OSU professor of electrical engineering and leader with the university’s wave energy research programs.

The site will not only allow testing of new wave energy technologies, but will also be used to help study any potential environmental impacts on sediments, invertebrates and fish. In order to simplify and expedite ocean testing, the facility will not initially be connected to the land-based electrical grid.

Testing will be done using a chartered vessel or stand-alone buoy along with the wave energy devices, and most of the technology being tested will produce its energy through the up-and-down motion of the waves. Some devices may be very large, up to 100 feet tall and with a diameter of up to 50 feet, but mostly below the water line.

“The site will not necessarily be off limits to other ocean users,” said Oregon Sea Grant’s Kaety Hildenbrand, who leads Sea Grant’s wave energy public engagement efforts on the central coast.  “As part of our continuing outreach to the coastal community, we plan to have a series of dialogues with safety experts and ocean users to discuss allowable uses.”

Read more from OSU News & Research Communications  …

Wave energy impractical? OSU researcher says “not at all.”

Check out this National Science Foundation video of Oregon State University researcher Annette Von Jouanne explaining how the power of the ocean waves could be harnessed to provide clean electricity.

Wave energy is a hot topic on the Oregon coast, where several companies have proposed pilot projects to determine whether the technology is practical, as well as possible.  Coastal communities, meanwhile, want some say in where and how wave energy “farms” are located, fearing disruption of fishing, whale migration and other ocean uses. Oregon Sea Grant’s coastal Extension faculty are helping to bridge those divergent views through community meetings and education programs.

Sea Grant provided early grant support for Von Jouanne and her lab as they investigated the engineering solutions for harnessing the power of the waves. Read more here.

More on wave energy from the NSF’s Science Nation.

New Sea Grant fellows to help implement west coast ocean agreement

Salmon River EstuarySea Grant programs in Oregon, California  and Washington have teamed to place four  highly qualified young professionals in a new  West Coast Sea Grant Fellowship to support regional research and information needs and advance elements of the West Coast Governors’  Agreement on Ocean Health (WCGA).

“Sea Grant has a successful record of supporting exceptional master’s and doctoral graduates for marine research and policy fellowships, and the four California, Oregon, and Washington Sea Grant Programs are thrilled to be teaming up for our first-ever regional fellowship,” said Stephen Brandt, Oregon Sea Grant Director.

Beginning this month, the four will spent two-year assignments in federal and state agency offices in California, Oregon and Washington. The fellows will work on a variety of WCGA  initiatives, from developing a framework for coastal and marine spatial planning to advancing regional ocean and coastal research priorities.

Their work will support  the 2008 WCGA Action Plan, which describes seven key priorities facing the West Coast:

  • clean coastal waters and beaches
  • healthy ocean and coastal habitats
  • effective ecosystem-based management
  • reduced impacts of offshore development
  • increased ocean awareness and literacy among the region’s citizens
  • expanded ocean and coastal scientific information, research, and monitoring
  • sustainable economic development of coastal communities.

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity to benefit from the academic expertise, experience and enthusiasm of our four new fellows,” said Brian Baird, California’s Assistant Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy. “In these difficult economic times, working collaboratively to advance important ocean and coastal initiatives on the West Coast is critically important.”

Todd Hallenbeck will be based in the office of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, where he will play a key role in coastal-marine spatial planning, a science-based  process for analyzing and planning for ocean and coastal use. He will assist the WCGA   in developing a framework for the process,  including data management, decision support tools, stakeholder engagement and policy aspects. His work will help inform region-wide marine spatial planning  as he interacts with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Pacific Fishery Management Council and various federal agencies with responsibilities for ocean and coastal activities, as well as state leadership from the three West Coast states.

Hallenbeck received his undergraduate degree in Marine Science from the Univeristy of California, Santa Cruz,  and recently completed a master’s degree in Coastal Watershed Science and Policy from California State University, Monterey Bay.

Suzanna Stoike is assigned to the Washington Department of Ecology. Her work will focus on sustainable coastal communities by assisting in carrying out the soon-to-be-released implementation plan of the WCGA’s Sustainable Communities action coordination team.  Suzanna will also help connect the West Coast Ecosystem-Based Network, a partnership of six community-based initiatives focused on the successful implementation of ecosystem-based management along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, and the NOAA/WCGA Integrated Ecosystem Assessments team.

Stoike is a recent graduate of Oregon State University’s Marine Resource Management master’s degree program, with an undergraduate degree from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. While at OSU, she worked with Sea Grant-funded researcher Selina Heppell on a project enlisting fishermen in Port Orford to determine whether different methods of releasing pregnant female fish can help sustain potentially overharvested species.

In addition to Stoike and Hallenbeck, the new fellowship program is placing graduates Alison Haupt with  California Natural Resources Agency, and Alan Lovewell with the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office in Seattle.

Launched in September 2006 by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, the WCGA advances regional ocean governance and  underscores the importance of managing activities that affect our oceans on an ecosystem basis. The governors chose the state Sea Grant programs to conduct a three-year public engagement process that gathered comments from all kinds of ocean and coastal stakeholders, public and private, and resulted in a detailed report of their  issues and concerns.

From that, the WCGA team developed a 116-page action plan and eight work plans for dealing with issues as far-reaching as sea level rise, renewable energy and marine science literacy. Those plans are all available for download from the WCGA website.