Oregon Coast Fisherman
Oregon Coast Fisherman A fisherman on the Oregon Coast heads out into the bay. © Padraic O'Meara

Stories in Oregon

Oregon Coast Fisheries

We're working with fishermen and stakeholders on solutions to improve the safety, quality and sustainability of critical fisheries along the Oregon coast.

Historically, tracking Oregon’s marine fisheries hasn’t been an exact science. Record-keeping consists of tired fishermen jotting down numbers from their day’s catch and snail-mailing damp, smudged notes to the state where paper piles up, waiting to be entered into a database with thousands of others. Not exactly error-proof, but this is the method we’ve relied on for information about which fish are being caught when, where, and in what amount. And it’s problematic for many reasons, including food safety and sustainability. 

“Imagine managing an industry based upon data that is a year old, or older,” said Marine and Coast Director Jena Carter. “Sometimes the data is also inaccurate or unusable. One accidentally transposed number and the fisherman may appear to be ocean fishing 300 miles inland.”

Tracking Technology

The answer, Jena and team believe, lies in digital record-keeping and the creation of an electronic fish-tracking database. Modernizing this method of data collection would allow transparency into the industry and help ensure that Dungeness crab and other seafood meet the highest standards of sustainability and quality. More than 246 million pounds of Oregon fish and shellfish is caught and consumed both locally and globally every year--knowing exactly where it’s caught, how it’s processed, and how it’s brought to market is critical conservation work.


Managing a More Sustainable Catch

Modernizing data collection is just one way the Conservancy is helping improve Oregon fisheries. Our marine team is also helping inform and improved the management of important fisheries such as Dungeness crab. Crab face challenges due to climate change—harmful algae blooms, ocean acidification and warmer waters. We’re working with fishers, researchers and fishery managers on a cooperative and comprehensive management plan that will establish goals and best practices to help ensure that we don’t lose this treasured species. 

Changing Waters

Fishermen and women have already noticed it: things are changing in our coastal fisheries. As waters continue to warm and acidify due to climate change, fish will likely head north or west or dive deeper to avoid warmer temperatures and ocean acidification. We’re currently leading the Pacific Fisheries Management Council through scenario planning to identify and prepare for climate impacts to fisheries so we can help fishing communities—and the families that rely on them—adapt, too.