Oregon to explore wave energy

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife– Heightened interest in harnessing wave energy off the Oregon coast is raising concerns about the effects on aquatic life. Issues surrounding this technology will be among the topics that will be explored during a fish science conference Sept. 11-13 hosted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

SALEM, Ore. – As the United States looks for ways to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels the Oregon coast is gaining more attention as a potential source of renewable energy.

A New Jersey company is already pursuing a permit to set up wave energy facilities off the Oregon coast, and others are waiting in the wings. Oregon State University is studying wave energy at its Hatfield Marine Science Center and plans to expand that research. Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants to promote wave energy in an environmentally responsible manner and has directed state agencies to amend Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan, which governs activities in the ocean within three miles of the coast.

“There will be some impacts but it is hard to know the degree and how to mitigate them,” said Cristen Don, a marine biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “That’s a pretty important piece of this puzzle.”

For example, questions that have yet to be answered about this new technology revolve around the effect of large anchors and other structures on marine habitat and species composition. There are also concerns about entanglements and the effects of electromagnetic fields on fish and other animals.

Don is the near-shore assistant project leader for ODFW’s Marine Resources Program and is a member of team of stakeholders addressing potential environmental impacts of wave energy technology. She will share her observations about wave energy with biologists, teachers and volunteers Sept. 12 at ODFW’s Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program conference in Salem.

The conference will bring together some of the country’s most prominent figures in the science, management and conservation of Oregon’s fish. Don is one of more than 40 speakers who are scheduled to present the latest findings in fish-related research at the conference Sept. 11-13 at the Oregon 4-H Conference and Education Center eight miles west of Salem.

Advance registration is required at a cost of $15 for individuals, $20 for families, and $5 for students.

Registration forms are available on the ODFW Web site at www.dfw.state.or.us/STEP.

For more information, contact Debbi Farrell by phone at 503-947-6211 or by email at  [email protected]

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