Graduate Project

Comparative Characterization of Two Nearshore Rocky Reef Areas: A high-use recreational fishing reef vs. an unfished reef

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  • This project has provided the ODFW Marine Habitat Project with a unique opportunity to make a comparative examination of the habitats and fish communities of a heavily fished reef off of Siletz Bay, and a nearly unfished reef off Cape Perpetua. There are over 17,000 angler trips for groundfish out of Depoe Bay annually, many choosing to fish Siletz Reef. In addition, numerous whale watching and sightseeing charter vessels operate in the vicinity of the reef. Cape Perpetua Reef consists of isolated patches of rock, and is too far from Newport (the nearest port) to receive much fishing effort. This examination of the influences of fishing pressure in nearshore rocky habitat complements, and is embedded in, a broader effort to understand the distribution and character of Oregon’s nearshore rocky reefs, and the species that are dependent upon them for habitat. The ODFW Marine Habitat Project has spent the last eight years working in cooperation with scientists and other resource agencies to develop methods for classifying and mapping nearshore rocky reefs habitats off Oregon. Because nearshore reefs are in state waters, Oregon is responsible for managing these living resources and habitats to sustain their long-term use and productivity. To date, eight reefs have been surveyed and mapped with sidescan and/or multibeam bathymetry at a resolution indicative of fish habitat. ODFW has also been developing non-extractive fish survey techniques to describe fish-habitat associations and estimate fish abundance at the habitat and reef scale. The importance of habitat to reef species cannot be over-stated and is now widely accepted in the scientific community and is the focus of major research efforts in other Pacific coastal states. Better understanding of the degree to which harvest influences relative and absolute abundance, combined with species-habitat relationships, is essential for resource managers to exercise their stewardship responsibilities to protect 5 essential habitat, develop population indices for species at risk, and maintain healthy and productive ecological systems.
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  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program (NWCRP) Grant No. R-01-1
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