The state has landed a federal grant that will fund research into whale entanglement issues off the Oregon Coast.
The federal species recovery grant the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife received this month — a total of nearly $270,000 that spans three fiscal years — will allow researchers to delve deeper into research that looks at how to avoid conflicts between whales and fishing gear.
California, Oregon and Washington state have coordinated efforts to address conflicts between foraging whales and fishing gear, specifically commercial Dungeness crabbing gear.
The research in Oregon, conducted by Oregon State University in collaboration with the Coast Guard, began this year with initial funding from the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.
Researchers have tagged along on Coast Guard flights to look at whale distribution off the coast. On the flights, they make note of various environmental factors such as sea surface temperature and salinity, correlating that to where they see or don’t see whales and where fishing activity occurs.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley praised the grant award
"Oregon has a proud history of conservation, and fishing is the lifeblood of our coastal communities’ economies," Wyden said in a statement. "This important investment is a win-win on both fronts, protecting threatened whales and ensuring Oregon’s fisheries continue to thrive."