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Marine Resources

Marine pollution research, including marine debris, microplastics, pharmaceuticals, and other type of marine pollution research can inform strategies to mitigate effects. The emerging field of marine microplastics includes the collection of sediment, sand, and surface water to determine the amount of microplastics in the environment, their associated environmental fate, and their effects on organisms, including humans. 


  • The NOAA Marine Debris Program (2012-2018) partnered with CIMRS to develop a pilot marine debris monitoring program for the Oregon Coast, engaging citizen scientists in coastal communities to collect baseline information on the occurrence of marine debris. These efforts supported the larger Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP) at NOAA. The NOAA MDMAP is an initiative to compile a record of the amount and types of debris in the environment to the progress of existing marine debris prevention initiatives and identify targets for future mitigation efforts. 
  • Online resources:
    • Sightings of marine debris are reported here.
    • Oregon's Marine Debris Team website.
    • NOAA's Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project website.

Impacts from Marine Debris:

Economic Loss

Habitat Damage

Wildlife Entanglement and Ghost Fishing


Vessel Damage and Navigation Hazards

Invasive Species Transport



Aquaculture can help meet the demands of human consumption, support restoration of marine populations, and increase commercial and recreational fisheries harvest.



Chris Langdon leads research in shellfish aquaculture at OSU. and has been breeding new varieties of dulse at Hatfield Marine Science Center for several years.
Photo by Stephen Ward.

Oregon State University (OSU) has a decades-long history with aquaculture that began in the 1970s with Oregon Sea Grant exploring methods for producing salmon and oysters. The OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Aquaculture Laboratory in Newport hosts the Molluscan Broodstock Program, which has raised the productivity of West Coast oyster farming since the 1980s and has been addressing the effects of ocean acidification on Oregon shellfish. In 2015, OSU developed a patented strain of seaweed called dulse, grown in Bandon, and Garibaldi, Oregon, and sold in high-end restaurants. Dulse serves a dual purpose by removing carbon dioxide from water. And in Port Orford, efforts are underway, via the OSU Marine Studies Initiative, to explore the nexus among sea urchins, seastars, and kelp. Sea urchin populations have been expanding because of reductions in their key predator, seastars. Seastar populations began declining because of seastar wasting disease, which has resulted in an increase in urchin populations. Urchins feed on kelp, thus reducing important kelp beds on the coast.

Marine Renewable Energy

  • Plans to develop wave energy farms off the Oregon coast have raised concerns about the potential effects on gray whales migrating along the Oregon coast. To address that question, the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute conducted a study on the migration patterns of gray whales off Yaquina Head.

  • OSU Marine Mammal Institute tested the effectiveness of an acoustic deterrent to act as a mitigation tool to protect gray whales from potential collision or entanglement impacts from marine renewable energy development.

  • OSU Marine Mammal Institute’s expertise in fine-scale tracking of large whales by satellite can identify areas of high use by whales along the Oregon coast and help guide the appropriate siting of renewable energy installations while minimizing potential impacts to whales.

A significant renewable wave energy test facility project is underway on Oregon's coast. The wave energy testing facility, slated to operational by 2022, will explore the potential to generate electricity six miles off the coast. PacWave, OSU, and the US Department of Energy are key partners in the project.

Marine renewable energy has the potential to power and support offshore aquaculture facilities, producing high-quality protein without the need for land, freshwater, or fertilizer. The co-location of marine renewable energy sites and offshore aquaculture facilities create opportunities for collaboration among government agencies, private industry, and international partners.

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