Technical Report

Non-harvest human impacts to rocky intertidal habitats : a pilot project

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  • Oregon's rocky intertidal habitats have been subjected to gradually increasing human-use pressures as the coastal and tourist populations have risen over the years. Brosnan and Crumrine (1991,1992) have documented impacts to intertidal communities at Yaquina Head, Sunset Bay, and Haystack Rock that have resulted from people walking on the intertidal habitat. Link (pers. comm, 1993) has observed significant impacts at Arch Cape from past commercial mussel harvest. Impacts on most of the coast have not been documented. Unlike impacts from a catastrophic event or effects of a rapidly growing commercial fishery, most of Oregon's intertidal habitat impacts are subtle and difficult to see. Because of the subtlety of impacts, we have only begun to recognize there is a potential for human impact problems in rocky intertidal areas. If we look to Washington and California for examples, there is clearly a need to begin closer examination of intertidal areas before human impacts become significant and irreversible. We have begun to examine the types and amounts of potential impacts that may be occurring in intertidal areas. We have generally divided impact categories into harvest and non-harvest impacts. Harvest impacts include personal use collection of invertebrates for food or souvenirs, and commercial harvest of invertebrates such as mussels. Non-harvest impacts include physically walking on intertidal areas, prying off and picking up organisms for observation, intentionally harming organisms, and intentionally or unintentionally disturbing seabird and marine mammals. John Johnson, ODFW, has conducted pilot projects at Seal Rock and Yachats to test methods for using volunteers to document amounts of harvest. This report summarizes a pilot project to begin to test methods for using volunteers to document non-harvest impact levels.
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