Oregon Marine Reserve Definitions


Adaptive Management: a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs (BC Forest Service, 2006).

Biodiversity: at its simplest, a term meaning the diversity of life forms and communities that occur in a particular environment. Diversity is a concept that means “variety or multiformity, a condition of being different in character and quality (Patrick, 1983, in Ray, 1988, in OPAC, 1994).” There is no single way to define, measure, or evaluate diversity of life; rather there are at least four interrelated ways:

  • species diversity, which refers to the variety and abundance of species in an ecosystem;
  • ecological diversity, which refers to the variety of types of biological communities found on earth;
  • genetic diversity, which refers to the genetic variation that occurs among members of the same species; and
  • functional diversity, which refers to the variety of biological processes or functions characteristic of a particular ecosystem(OPAC, 1994).

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity defines biological diversity (aka biodiversity) as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ‘inter  alia’, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (UN, 1992).”

Canopy Forming Kelp: a sub-set (or ecotype) of hard bottom (rocky) subtidal habitat. Canopy forming kelp grows on many of Oregon’s shallow rocky reefs, typically in waters between 5 and 25 meters (ODFW, 2006). Generally, this term is used to refer to canopy forming kelp species such as Nereocystis and Macrocystis.

Conserve: to manage in a manner which avoids wasteful or destructive uses and provides for future availability (Oregon Statewide Planning Goals and OPAC 1994).

Disturbance: extraction of living organisms and non-living materials, or human induced changes to the environment. Prohibited activities will be established with the management plan for each site or through rulemaking.

Ecologically Significant: contributing to biodiversity, resilience of the system and its populations and ecological communities.

Ecosystem: an ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and the nonliving environment interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems. Ecosystems vary enormously in size; a temporary pond in a tree hollow and an ocean basin can both be ecosystems (Millennium Assessment, 2005).

Ecosystem-Based Approach: ecosystem-based management is an integrated approach to management that considers the entire ecosystem, including humans. The goal of ecosystem- based management is to maintain an ecosystem in a healthy, productive and resilient condition so that it can provide the services humans want and need. Ecosystem-based management differs from approaches that focus on a single species, sector, activity or concern; it considers the cumulative impacts of different sectors. Specifically, ecosystem- based management:

  • emphasizes the protection of ecosystem structure, functioning, and key processes;
  • is place-based in focusing on a specific ecosystem and the range of activities affecting it;
  • explicitly accounts for the interconnectedness within systems, recognizing the importance of interactions between many target species or key services and other non- target species;
  • acknowledges interconnectedness among systems, such as between air, land and sea; and
  • integrates ecological, social, economic, and institutional perspectives, recognizing their strong interdependences (McLeod et. al., 2005).

Framework: a broad overview or outline composed of ideas or principles that are used to plan or decide something, within which details can be added in the future.

Goal: a clear, concise statement of the intended result or outcome toward which effort is directed; it is what you hope to accomplish or achieve over time. Goals are made operational through more specific objectives or tasks.

Habitat: the environment in which an organism, species, or community lives (OPAC, 1994). Key types of marine habitat: 

  • Rocky intertidal (EHTL-ELTL)
  • Rocky subtidal
    • With canopy forming kelp (ELTL-25 m and greater than 25 m depth)
    • Without canopy forming kelp (ELTL-25 m and greater than 25 m depth)
    • Soft bottom subtidal
      • ELTL-25 meters
      • Greater than 25 m depth

EHTL-extreme high tide line, ELTL-extreme low tide line. 25 m=14 fathoms or 82 feet. See the individual habitat types for definitions.


Local Knowledge:

  • Traditional ecological knowledge is the knowledge of a localized place that is passed down through time through social and cultural practices (Wedell, 2005).
  • Local fisheries knowledge is a particular type of local knowledge acquired through experiences and observations made during fishing and related activities. It may include knowledge of: local distribution of fishes and habitats, unique underwater structures, geological features, ecological interactions, local fishing businesses, social dynamics of fishing, fishing communities’ territories of use, local economics and networks of regional economies of which communities are a part, and local fishing culture (adapted from Hall-Arber et. al., 2002).
  • Local fisheries knowledge: “Knowledge about commercial, subsistence, and recreational marine fishing/harvest, including the marine environment and species; fishing culture and society; fishing technology and practices; and business and economic aspects of fishing (NMFS, 2004).”
  • Local ecological knowledge: local knowledge acquired through experiences and observations collected through activities such as bird watching, beach walking, tidepooling, charter boat fishing, whale watching, diving, surfing, and kayaking.

Marine Environment: those areas of coastal and ocean waters, the Great Lakes and their connecting waters, and submerged lands thereunder, over which the United States exercises jurisdiction, consistent with international law (Executive Order 13158, May 26, 2000).

Marine Protected Area (MPA): any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by Federal, State, territorial, tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein (Executive Order 13158, May 26, 2000).

Marine Reserve: an area within Oregon's Territorial Sea or adjacent rocky intertidal area that is protected from all extractive activities, including the removal or disturbance of living and non-living marine resources, except as necessary for monitoring or research to evaluate reserve condition, effectiveness, or impact of stressors.

Nearshore: the area from the coastal high tide line offshore to the 30-fathom (180 feet or 55 meter) depth contour. However, this does not always stay within the state boundary of 3 miles. For the purposes of the planning process, marine reserves will be within the boundaries of Oregon’s Territorial Sea as well as some rocky intertidal areas.

Objective: an action statement designed to help move toward the goal.

Ocean Shore Recreation Area: “Ocean shore” means the land lying between extreme low tide of the Pacific Ocean and the statutory vegetation line as described by ORS 390.770 or the line of established upland shore vegetation, whichever is farther inland. “Ocean shore” does not include an estuary as defined in ORS 196.800. “State recreation area” means a land or water area, or combination thereof, under the jurisdiction of the State Parks and Recreation Department used by the public for recreational purposes.

Oregon Territorial Sea: the waters and seabed between the coastal baseline of Mean  Lower Low Water seaward to the three nautical mile (3.45 statute miles) limit of state jurisdiction (OPAC, 1994; Christie and Hildreth, 1999; ORS 196.405). The inner boundary that separates the territorial sea from internal waters is called the “baseline” and baselines are drawn across river mouths, along outer points of complex coastlines and offshore islands (Frohnmayer, 1986; Christie and Hildreth, 1999; Kalo et. al., 1999).

Protect: save or shield from loss, destruction, or injury or for future intended use (Oregon Statewide Planning Goals and OPAC, 1994).

Reference Area: an area that provides a baseline to compare with non-reserve areas, specifically to evaluate changes in habitat, species abundance, and species composition due to natural changes, fishing and other human effects.

Resilience: the amount of natural or manmade disturbance an ecosystem can absorb while retaining the same function, structure, and feedbacks (Walker and Salt, 2006).

Rocky Intertidal: hard substrates that fall between the extreme low tide and extreme high tide along the coastline that are alternately exposed and covered by tides (Fox et. al., 1994, ODFW, 2007). Oregon’s coastline has approximately 82 linear miles (21%) of rocky intertidal habitat (ODFW, 2006).

Rocky Subtidal: (aka hard subtidal) habitat includes all hard substrate areas of the ocean bottom that are never exposed at low tides. They often are referred to as reefs, rocky reefs, rocky banks, pinnacles or hard bottom. Rocky subtidal habitats can exist anywhere in the subtidal region from just beyond the limit of the area exposed by tides (intertidal) out to the westward boundary of the Territorial Sea. Some rocky subtidal areas are extensions of rocky shoreline features such as headlands, cliffs or rocky intertidal, while others exist as isolated regions of rock surrounded by sandy substrate habitat. Some of these habitat areas are contained entirely within the Territorial Sea, while others extend westward into deeper water habitat. Rocky reefs may have relatively low topography barely raised above the surrounding seafloor, or may rise from the seafloor many meters, often with exposed rocks, seastacks or small islands (ODFW, 2006).

Social and economic (socioeconomic) impact: Scope and content to be determined.   
Soft Bottom Subtidal: soft bottom subtidal habitat is defined as extending from the lowest reaches of the intertidal west to the outer extent of the Territorial Sea. Subtidal soft bottom habitats are diverse, as a result of distinct organism assemblages that are influenced by differences in substrate type (sand vs. mud), organic content and bottom depth. The Oregon coast primarily is an exposed, high energy environment, so most soft bottom subtidal areas are sandy. Mud can be a more pronounced bottom type in areas receiving less energy from water movement (e.g., isolated and sheltered embayments) and in deeper waters toward the outer edge of the Territorial Sea (ODFW, 2006).

Species: one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, a more precise or differing measures are often used, such as based on similarity of DNA or morphology. Presence of specific locally adapted traits may further subdivide species into subspecies.

System: a collection of individual sites that are representative of marine habitats and that are ecologically significant when taken as a whole.

Topographical Relief: the three-dimensional complexity of the seafloor. In general, soft- bottom (mud and sand) seafloors have the least topographical relief, followed increasingly by pebbles, cobbles, boulders, rock ridges, and rock pinnacles. At larger spatial scales,  submarine canyons and seamounts have high topographical relief.

User: an individual, group or entity that makes use of the territorial sea and adjacent rocky intertidal, whether it is for traditional, recreational, educational, commercial or other purposes.

References cited

  • British Columbia Forest Service. 2006. Definitions of Adaptive Management. Retrieved 10/11/07 from http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/amhome/amdefs.htm
  • Christie, D.R. and R.G. Hildreth. 1999. Coastal and Ocean Management Law in a Nutshell. 2nd Edition (Nutshell Series). St. Paul, MN: West Group. 397 pp.
  • Fox, D., Merems, A., Miller, B., Long, M., McCrae, J., and J. Mohler. 1994. Oregon Rocky Shores Natural Resource Inventory. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 168 pp.
  • Frohnmayer, Dave, 1986. Opinions of the Attorney General of the State of Oregon, No. 8182; Vol.45. Oregon Department of Justice, Salem, Oregon.
  • Gregoire, C, Kulongoski, T. and A. Schwarzenegger. 2007. West Coast Governor’s Agreement on Ocean Health. Retrieved 6/26/2008 from  http://westcoastoceans.gov/docs/WCOceanAgreementp6.pdf
  • Hall-Arber, M., Dyer, C., Poggie, J., McNally, J., and R. Gagne. 2002. New England Fishing Communities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Sea Grant College Program. 417 pp.
  • Kalo, J.J., Hildreth, R.G., Rieser, A., D.R. Christie, and J.J. Jacobson. 1999. Coastal and Ocean Law: Cases and Materials. American Casebook Series. St. Paul, MN: West Group. 748 pp.
  • McLeod, K. L., Lubchenco, J., Palumbi, S.R., and A. A. Rosenberg. 2005. Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. Signed by 221 academic scientists and policy experts with relevant expertise and published by the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea.
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: current state and trends: findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group. Edited by Rashid Hassan, Robert Scholes, Neville Ash. Retrieved 8/15/07 from  http://www.maweb.org/en/Condition.aspx
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2004. Local Fisheries Knowledge Project: Definitions of ethnoecological research terms. Retrieved 10/17/2007 from  http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/lfkproject/02_c.definitions.htm
  • Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC). 1994. State of Oregon Territorial Sea Plan. Retrieved 08/13/07 from http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/OCMP/Ocean_TSP.shtml Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006.
  • Oregon Nearshore Strategy. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Newport, Oregon. Retrieved 8/13/07 from  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/nearshore/document.asp
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2007. Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. Retrieved 11/16/2007 from http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/regulations_2007.pdf
  • United Nations. 1992. Convention on Biological Diversity. Rio de Janeiro. Retrieved 08/14/07 from http://www.cbd.int/convention/articles.shtml?a=cbd-02
  • Walker, B.H. and D.A. Salt. 2006. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington DC: Island Press. 192 pages.
  • Wedell, V. 2005. Capturing Local Knowledge for Cooperative Fisheries Management Using a Participatory Geographic Information System (GIS) Approach in Port Orford, Oregon. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Marine Resource Management Program, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University.

The Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership is a fiscally sponsored project of The Ocean Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.