On February 11, 2012, the Savoy Theatre in Port Orford, Oregon, the western most point in the continental United States, was filled to capacity when Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes took the stage to declare, “I’m proud to be an Oregonian.” Hayes went on to say, “It doesn’t surprise me at all that Oregon is one of the states featured in this film, because we have an incredible story to tell.”
Sitting in the front rows were Governor Kitzhaber and First Lady Hayes, Mayor Jim Auborn and County Commissioner David Itzen. State Representative Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach), Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and Senator Kruse (R-Roseburg) took a break from the legislative session—traveling four hours from the state capitol to attend this important event.
“Ocean Frontiers” is a documentary that tells the story of people across the country working together to sustain their coastal communities that depend on healthy oceans. Port Orford and the work of the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team is one of the four stories.
As the film came to a close, the audience leaped to its feet giving filmmakers Karen and Ralf Meyer an enthusiastic standing ovation.
While in Port Orford the Governor and First Lady toured the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team’s Marine Science Facility, which is currently under construction. Looking out at one of the most picturesque stretches of the Pacific coast, they learned of the community’s work to keep Port Orford fishing sustainably.
At dawn the next day the Governor and First Lady climbed aboard the fishing vessel Top Gun with Captain Jeff Miles to tour the newly designated Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve.
Jeff Miles, a Port Orford fisherman with thirty-five years of experience said, “We feel very honored that the Governor and First Lady came to Port Orford to learn about what people are doing here. I read people very well, and it was clear that they have a genuine interest about the future of Oregon’s fishing industry.”
Lyle Keeler, a Port Orford fisherman of forty years, said, “I was most impressed that on a cold, stormy February day the Governor and First Lady ventured out with us on a small fishing boat to learn about the science taking place in our new Redfish Rocks marine reserve.”
After the film, the reception at the American Legion Hall featured Port Orford Sustainable Seafood and was packed with Port Orford residents who expressed their unanimous pride in the accomplishments of their local organizations and community.
“This was an amazing event which brought our community together with our elected leaders and natural resource agencies to bring the conversation about ocean health, conservation and ocean literacy to the next level,” said Kelly Sparks, Project Coordinator with the Redfish Rocks Community Team.
Representative Krieger said, “On their own, this community offered up a marine reserve that came to be known as Redfish Rocks. I was of the opinion, and I still am, that the greatest value of marine reserves is the ability to do research, to learn and better understand what actually is happening in the ocean itself. I think that’s very do-able.”
Representative Krieger added, “One thing we haven’t done a good job with is putting money into marine research in this state. Oregon must continue funding marine research if we want to move ahead in the ocean.”
The other three segments of “Ocean Frontiers”—Massachusetts Bay, Florida Keys, Iowa/Gulf of Mexico—tell the story of people from different arenas coming together to find solutions that benefit their economic interests as well as the environment. They recognize that a healthy ocean and coastal ecosystem is the basis for their economic well-being.
Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes said, “‘Ocean Frontiers’ presents a starting point to help ensure that these kinds of success stories are told and better understood. We need to illustrate that communities are taking steps to invest in their own economic futures and in the conservation of our shared natural resources. Not only can this garner additional support for these incredible grassroots efforts, but hopefully it will inspire communities across the state and beyond.”
“Ocean Frontiers” will next premiere in Newport, Oregon on February 22nd, in Portland, Oregon on March 7th and will continue to tour the nation. Karen Meyer, producer of “Ocean Frontiers” said, “During the production of ‘Ocean Frontiers’ the United States adopted its first-ever National Ocean Policy. This policy encourages exactly the types of successful projects featured in ‘Ocean Frontiers’ and supports state leadership regarding ocean health.”
Governor Kitzhaber repeated this theme in his address to the crowd at the “Ocean Frontiers” premiere and said, “We all know that the challenges facing coastal communities are not going to be resolved by one or two initiatives, it’s going to take a long, thoughtful approach that brings together good science, strong leadership and a commitment to conserving resources while promoting economic prosperity for all. Now, that may sound like a tall order but I am sure America can do it. What you have done here in Port Orford is truly remarkable and is worth repeating across our state and across the nation.”