cape falconOne of the more encouraging developments in Northwest conservation has to be the quiet but steady advancement of marine reserves off the Oregon coast. A couple of smaller pilot reserves have already been set aside; and then yesterday a key advisory council strongly endorsed three larger reserves.

As the Oregonian reported:

The proposed reserves—at Cape Falcon [south of Cannon Beach], Cascade Head near Lincoln City and Cape Perpetua near Yachats—will now move to the governor and to the Legislature for possible approval in next year’s session. If approved, the three reserves in Oregon’s territorial sea would add to the state’s first two: Redfish Rocks near Port Orford and Otter Rocks near Depoe Bay, both scheduled to take effect in June.

All told, the five reserves and less-restrictive “marine protected areas” would take up just under 10 percent of Oregon’s territorial sea…

This is modest but good news for the Oregon coast. It’s modest because the proposal is far short of what Governor Kulongoski originally called for. But it’s good news all the same because reserves will protect the region’s wildlife and natural heritage. They can also, at least in some cases, actually boost the fish stocks for commercial and recreational harvests by providing fish with sanctuaries that boost their numbers. And it’s about time that Oregon’s marine ecosystem begins to see some of the level of protection that is enjoyed by all of its West Coast neighbors.

There’s more comprehensive reporting about the proposed reserves in the Eugene Register-Guard, and detailed information about each of the reserves at the “Our Ocean” website here and here.