My name is Jessica and I am majoring in marine biology at Oregon State University. This summer I will be working with the Human Dimensions Project within the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. I will travel to Oregon’s marine reserves to survey visitors about their awareness and opinions of Oregon’s marine reserve system. I will also be going to tourist-oriented businesses in nearby towns to ask about their awareness of marine reserves as well as how they think the reserves have impacted their businesses. Later in the Summer I will enter the data collected into a database so that it can be analyzed and used in a report due to Oregon’s legislature in 2023.
When the marine reserve system started in Oregon, the legislation required a report be submitted ten years after implementation describing the affect marine reserves have had on coastal communities and ecosystems. Baseline data was collected for two years before any restrictions were put in place so that the state of the ecosystem and the opinions of local communities before the reserves were fully up and running would be known. The data collected this Summer will be compared to the baseline data, allowing the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine the impact of marine reserves on local communities.
One of the main goals of the Human Dimensions Project is to ensure conservation efforts are not negatively impacting coastal communities. Without community support ODFW would not be able to carry out its mission of, “protecting and enhancing Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.” The coastal community focus of the project also helps to further Oregon Sea Grant’s mission by supporting a management approach to marine resources that prioritizes thriving coastal communities as well as a healthy ecosystem.