South Coast fishermen, battling efforts to lock up large swaths of ocean, need all the help they can get. Leaders of the region's largest town should be key allies of this important local industry.
Instead, Coos Bay's city council has (perhaps unintentionally) joined the other side. Last week it directed City Manager Rodger Craddock, who serves on a regional advisory committee, to vote for creating two marine reserves off the local coastline.
Fishermen and their supporters are rightly astounded.
Conservation activists are pushing for a 'network" of reserves up and down the Oregon Coast. The rationale for locking up resources is a belief that current practices imperil the ocean. Like an article of religious faith, this belief is embraced as unassailable truth despite an absence of supporting evidence.
No one has demonstrated a need for reserves along Oregon's coastline. There's no doubt, however, that closing off fishing areas will harm commercial fishing and tourism.
The Legislature already has created two reserves, one at Depoe Bay and the other at Port Orford. These reserves' stated purpose is to serve as pilot projects, so scientists can study the biological effects of blocking commercial and recreational use.
Although the cash-starved state budget has yielded no money to study these first reserves, the crusade to create more of them gallops forward.
The Coos Bay council's surprising decision last week appears to be based partly on confusion. Some members may have thought they were voting to extend the discussion. In fact, they put the city on record as a supporter of ocean lockouts.
Citizens should call their council members and ask them to support local fishermen. A heavy turnout at next week's council meeting might help as well. The council has time to reverse its decision, and it should.