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The purpose of Oregon’s Nearshore Research Inventory (NRI) project was to inventory and map the current and future use of Oregon’s nearshore environment by the scientific research community for use in Oregon’s marine spatial planning process. Spatial and qualitative data on the use of Oregon’s ocean and coast by the scientific research community was collected using ethnographic research methods, including the geographic distribution of research, the people who are conducting scientific research, timeline for scientific research, and more. Through the NRI project, Oregon’s Territorial Sea amendment process became the first marine spatial planning process in the world, other than through ocean zoning (e.g. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and China), to comprehensively recognize the scientific community as a stakeholder. This thesis contains the methods used to create the NRI database, interview the scientific community, and includes future recommendations for managers and the scientific community based on the results of the NRI.
As new uses, such as wave energy extraction, get proposed along coastlines and in the ocean, marine spatial planning (MSP) can be a tool to reduce conflict and find compatible uses of ocean and coastal space. Sound science needs to be used to understand social, ecological, and economic components to ocean and coastal resources and make tradeoff decisions about ocean and coastal space use in the MSP process. The results of the NRI project demonstrate the need to recognize that the scientific research community as a stakeholder in the MSP process. Their use of ocean and coastal space helps provide the sound scientific information that is needed to make ecosystem-based management decisions. Interruptions in long-term scientific research and monitoring could limit the availability of scientific information for use in future management decisions.
There are also other values to comprehensively inventorying use of the ocean and coast by the scientific community. Spatial data about where people conduct scientific research provides information for potential collaboration amongst the scientific community and between scientists and non-scientists. It also identifies data gaps, which can then be filled to help have a more comprehensive understanding of ocean and coastal issues. The NRI can act as a template for other states to include the scientific community as a stakeholder in a MSP process, and as a template for a regional inventory of scientific research which can be useful for ecosystem based approaches to management. Overall, there should be value placed on sound scientific information for management decisions and the scientific community as a stakeholder in the marine spatial planning process, as demonstrated through the NRI.
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