About kaitygoldsmith

Kaity is an Ocean Policy Fellow in the Governor's Natural Resources Office in Oregon. She will support Oregon’s engagement in carrying out WCGA priorities related to climate change, regional ocean data, marine debris, and ocean acidification, as well as WCGA initiatives to foster collaboration with tribes, local governments, and the federal government coordinating and improving ocean management and health in Oregon and along the West Coast.

West Coast Ocean Leaders Unite

There are some moments in this fellowship that I feel particularly fortunate, particularly needing of a stern pinch to believe I do this for a living. In mid-January of this year, I experienced one of these moments. Between January 12th-14th intergovernmental ocean and coastal leaders from across the West Coast representing tribes, state, and federal agencies convened in Portland, Oregon for the first time to communicate ocean health priorities as an entire region.

The days began with the first in-person meeting of West Coast tribal, state, and federal representatives engaged in discussions around regional marine planning and the potential formation of a West Coast Regional Planning Body, an entity geared at implementing the National Ocean Policy through a region-wide marine planning dialog. An audience of a variety of stakeholders, including NGOs, were also present. My anticipation and excitement for the events ahead were high as I personally welcomed and registered attendees to the meeting. After dynamic conversation from members and comments from the audience, it was agreed that the group would move forward with pursuing the formation a Regional Planning Body on the West Coast in hopes of creating an effective forum around marine planning activities.

That same evening marked the beginning of a 2.5 day West Coast Ocean Summit (WCOS) convened by a collaborative planning team with support from the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health (WCGA).

Manning my note-taking station at the WCOS

Manning my note-taking station at the WCOS

The first WCOS brought together 150 leaders in total from West Coast tribes, representatives from the Governors’ offices of California, Oregon, and Washington and state and federal agencies to share ocean health priorities and discuss regional ocean coordination and collaboration opportunities. The objectives of the Summit were to develop a shared understanding of common priorities, document issues of mutual importance, create strategies for identifying opportunities for intergovernmental coordination and overcoming challenges, and develop mechanisms for ongoing dialogue among federal and state agencies and tribes in the region. The 2.5 days were filled with robust conversations about priorities and collaborative possibilities. I was a member of the WCOS planning team, and I also assisted during the WCOS with a variety of tasks as needed (including general coordination and note-taking for future reports). Attendees revealed their ocean health priorities, which included ocean acidification, climate change, and the sharing of information through such mechanisms as the West Coast Ocean Data Portal to name just a few. Perhaps the more powerful message communicated by the end of the WCOS was that in moving forward the tribes, state, and federal agencies all agreed that collaboration among these entities would be the most effective means of managing West Coast ocean resources. While nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, academia, and citizens are also key players, strong relationships among the “three sovereigns” — tribal, state, and federal governments — is an essential foundation for broader collaboration.”

While there are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer, I personally found the respect and camaraderie I witnessed over the course of these 2 events to be a promising foundation for the collaborative efforts to come. As these efforts evolve, I hope we all think back to how a variety of leaders came together for these 3 incredible days in solidarity around ocean health. In the end, all of these entities are stewards of the ocean. That is why I am so passionate about this work, at the core of everyone in attendance for these 3 days is a person who truly wants to protect one of our regions greatest assets for current and future generations. That is a truth we can all agree on.

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The Science-Policy Intersect: Ocean Acidification and Marine Debris

Climate change-driven shifts in ocean conditions and growing coastal populations are two of the many factors raising uncertainty in coastal and marine resource management.  Fortunately, there is a growing understanding of the opportunity to improve policies and decisions on these issues by drawing on and infusing scientific data into policy and management decisions in order to promote healthy coastal economies and ecosystems. My graduate degree research focused on this intersection between science and policy and how to imbue scientific data into the policy process. In my past few months with the Governor’s Natural Resources Office I have seen two regionally focused efforts in the eastern Pacific Ocean that speak directly to this interface.

The first of these is the establishment of a West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel (OAH Panel). The OAH Panel, consisting of 20 esteemed scientists representing California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, was tasked with advancing decision makers’ understanding of drivers and impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia. Ocean acidification poses a particular threat to the west coastal waters of the United States and Canada, where naturally upwelling waters bring deep water with a low pH to the surface, where it mixes with low pH waters caused by atmospheric deposition of carbon dioxide.  Successive upwelling events also increase the occurrence of seasonally hypoxic (low oxygen) areas of the ocean. Acknowledging the specific threat that ocean acidification and hypoxia bring to the west coast, the OAH Panel is intended to identify the research and monitoring needed to answer practical questions faced by policy makers and managers about ocean acidification and hypoxia. While biological impacts have been seen from ocean acidification and hypoxia, there are still many questions to answer for the purpose of decision making. On my very first day on the job, I was fortunate to attend a meeting between Oregon natural resource agency managers and Oregon-based OAH Panel scientists convened to set an agenda for ways to advance science-informed decision making in Oregon waters. They agreed to work collaboratively to develop accurate and accessible outreach materials to inform policy makers and the public, establish ongoing information sharing and coordination forums on OAH, and identify ways to ensure the science products being developed by the OAH Panel are used by decision makers.

The second effort endeavoring to infuse scientific data into policy and management practices in the eastern Pacific Ocean is the West Coast Ocean Data Portal (WCODP).  The WCODP is a project of the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health that provides access to ocean and coastal data to inform regional resource management, policy development, and ocean planning. I was able to help at the WCODP’s annual Network meeting in early November to unveil a new feature of the Portal that creates a geographic visual of data, specifically data relating to marine debris. This new feature, the Data Viewer, provides coastal decision makers with a tool to track marine debris and help prioritize clean ups and advocate for policies to reduce the impact of trash on our beaches. As the WCODP charts its strategic plan moving forward, it seeks to continue to be a rich data resource and tool to visualize and map that information, so that ocean and coastal managers can make sound decisions to improve ocean health.

Both of these efforts have established a significant opportunity to sustain and continue to build cross-sector cooperation between decision making and scientific sectors on the west coast. The state is thus poised to more efficiently and effectively protect and preserve the ocean’s critical natural resources. Both the scientific community and decision making community are working to improve ocean health.  Combining forces is helping scientists ask the questions managers need to answer to understand how ecosystem services that people value will be affected, and what steps people might take to try to mitigate and adapt to those changes on the west coast now and in the future.

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And so it begins…

As a new Oregon Sea Grant Fellow, I thought an introduction to myself should start this blog. I am a recent graduate of the Masters of Environmental Management program in the Department of Environmental Management at Portland State University in Portland, OR. My graduate research focused on evidence-based decision making in coastal and marine management and policy in the Pacific Northwest. At a high level, this work tested a 2 phase methodology for bridging the gap between academic research and policy and management practice: The 1st phase included an interviewing process to gather primary qualitative data and determine scientific data needs of ocean relevant decision makers. In the 2nd phase, I conducted a workshop to bring together academic scientists and decision makers to disseminate phase 1 findings and begin to foster the development, communication, and use of policy relevant research. I have resolved to continue focusing on understanding how best to bring scientific knowledge into policy action through my career in coastal and marine policy creation and management implementation.
My graduate research was funded by the Oregon Sea Grant Robert E. Malouf Marine Studies Scholarship, and I feel very fortunate to continue to work with Oregon Sea Grant as well as other Sea Grant scholars over the next year. I anticipate gaining an incredible wealth of knowledge over the next year working in the Oregon Governor’s Natural Recourses Office. As a neophyte walking around this Office, I often find myself with eyes open wide and full of excitement. Oregon Sea Grant has provided me this incredibly rare opportunity to be placed in the heart of ocean and coastal policy in such a critical coastal state, and I intend to take advantage of every moment.
In this role, I will support Oregon’s engagement in carrying out WCGA priorities related to climate change, regional ocean data, marine debris, and ocean acidification, as well as WCGA initiatives to foster collaboration with tribes, local governments, and the federal government coordinating and improving ocean management and health in Oregon and along the West Coast. I welcome you to follow me along this journey over the next year!