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Oregon invests in research to understand its changing ocean coast

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SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon's Pacific Ocean coast is getting research into its economic and environmental risks, with State funding to support that research.

New investments announced this month by the Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) include $1.1-million in state funding to ocean researchers to help Oregon better understand and monitor and ocean changes.  The funding comes from a law passed during the 2021 state legislative session, HB3114.  It allocates funds to OOST to address ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) and risks posed to Oregon's economy and ecosystems.

Oregon coast OOST water over rock 2022.jpg

OOST says it issued the funds to marine researchers through competitive grants.  "We’re excited to track and share the results of these important research projects," said Oregon Ocean Science Trust Chair Laura Anderson.

OOST says 2021 Oregon legislative funding addresses priority actions in Oregon’s OAH Plan, "from developing best management practices that help conserve and restore submerged aquatic vegetation while supporting healthy shellfish populations and aquaculture, to better understanding ecosystem function in subtidal and intertidal marine reserves."

"Oregonians will have a better understanding of the science that drives changes in our ocean and estuaries, which will inform steps everyone can take to ensure we have healthy marine ecosystems for coastal economies and Oregon fisheries," said OAH Council Co-Chair Caren Braby.

OAH Council Co-Chair Jack Barth says, "Understanding factors that contribute to ocean acidification and low oxygen levels in water is critical for ocean and estuary conservation and management. The results from these research projects will improve our understanding of changes in oceans and estuaries, and inform conservation and management strategies to mitigate these changes."

Oregon coast OOST beach, gulls 2022.jpg

Canon Beach in the distance... looking North from Arch Cape.

This spring OOST awarded grants to:

  • Dr. Tarang Khangaonkar and colleagues from the University of Washington along with partners from the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians to evaluate the interaction of water quality and eelgrass in Coos Bay using a biophysical model.  A total of $131,126 will enhance Oregon’s ability to inform estuarine conservation and management.
  • Dr. Melissa Ward and colleagues from San Diego State University and partners from Oregon State University to develop science-based management practices for co-management of Oregon submerged aquatic vegetation and shellfish.  A total of $170,520 will support the conservation and restoration of estuarine submerged aquatic vegetation while supporting shellfish aquaculture and native shellfish populations.
Oregon coast OOST clams 2022.jpg

Prior OOST grants involved Oregon State University research to enhance subtidal and intertidal OAH monitoring at Oregon’s Marine Reserves, Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center research to establish a long-term OAH monitoring station in Yaquina Bay, another  Oregon State University project to map the dynamics of OAH in the Yaquina Bay estuary and the related biological responses in native Olympia oysters.

More information about OOST projects and their progress is available at www.oostoahrfp.com and the OOST website.

The OOST will announce other competitive grant opportunities and awards for applied OAH research as a result of $1,000,000 in additional funding added to the OOST research grant program by the 2022 Oregon Legislature. The funds will be used for science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species, including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat, and sequestration of blue carbon.

Oregon coast OOST rocks of coast 2022.jpg

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