Marine reserves are in the news. Oregon’s decade-old program of five coastal protected areas had a statewide review in 2022, and a bill to strengthen the state marine reserve program has been introduced in the Oregon legislature. Globally, advocates of the “30×30” vision are calling for nations to protect 30% of ocean waters by 2030. President Biden has issued an executive order to achieve that goal in the U.S.

So, what are marine reserves, and what purpose do they serve? Advocates for heightened protections point to the threat of overfishing and the need to protect habitats from the impacts of climate change. Detractors argue that reserves unnecessarily lock away valuable fishing grounds and that healthy fisheries are better sustained through other means. Come learn about the evidence surrounding these issues, the science of marine reserves, and how reserves are monitored.

Our guest speaker, Dr. Will White, is an expert in marine reserves and fisheries science. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences at Oregon State University (OSU), based in the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Dr. White’s research group uses mathematical modeling and statistical approaches to answer basic and applied questions in a wide range of study systems, from oyster reefs to kelp forests to sea turtle populations. He has advised marine reserve policy in California, Oregon, and British Columbia and was a member of the Science Advisory Team that informed the design of California’s network of marine protected areas. Most recently, Dr. White led the team of university researchers that conducted the legislatively mandated review of the Oregon Marine Reserves program.