Human Dimensions Research

The ODFW Marine Reserves Program is responsible for leading the human dimensions research for Oregon’s marine reserves. We are working in collaboration with a variety of research partners in this scientific endeavor. Learn more about the research being conducted …

What Do We Study?

This research looks to describe and understand the effects that occur over time to regions, communities, social groups, and individuals when we set areas aside for conservation and cease fishing in those areas. Our research is looking at:

  • How communities are affected.  We look at communities of place — like Depoe Bay, of occupation — such as the fishing industry, and of interest — like wildlife viewers.
  • Ways ocean users are affected.  We consider both extractive and non-extractive uses and users.
  • How regional economies are affected.  This includes looking at economic contributions, losses, and changes.
  • Interactions between the economy, marine environment, and communities.  How do people value and depend on the ocean? What desires and expectations do the public hold for the ocean and conservation areas managed by the state?

Over time, we will begin to understand the variety and differences in effects that marine reserves can have here in Oregon.

Human Dimensions scientific research draws from multiple social sciences including economics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology. In some instances the information produced is quantitative; in others it is qualitative or descriptive. Each of these sciences has established protocols or research tools for collecting information and drawing conclusions from that information.

Research Partners

We are working in collaboration with a variety of research partners to study the human dimensions of Oregon’s marine reserves. These partners provide advice, lend different expertise, and help us round out our monitoring program. Our Partners include social scientists from universities and the private sector.

Research Categories

Our Human Dimensions scientific research is focused in four general categories. We conduct a variety of different studies in each of these categories to help us understand the variety of effects marine reserve sites have on people and communities.

General Characterizations

We develop characterizations of the coastal communities most directly tied to each of the marine reserve sites. Characterizations include information such as historical records, demographics such as employment data, social structure, tribal or spiritual connections, cultural and social events, and economic drivers of the local economy. These characterizations set the “back story” and provide context to help us understand effects we might observe over time for these communities.

Direct Use of the Area

To understand “who” has or does use the marine reserve site, we first analyze data from commercial and recreational fisheries. This includes existing and new data obtained through logbooks, port sampling, observations, and interviews or surveys. This analysis allows us to identify physical areas of use, which fisheries were conducted in these areas, and which communities of place and interest may be affected from displacement or disruption of these activities. We also gather new and existing data on non-consumptive uses of the ocean and shore areas connected to these sites. This allows us to understand what uses presently exist, and to monitor changes which may occur with implementation of the marine reserve site. Social and economic data are also collected from these direct users of these area.

Attitudes and Perceptions of Implementation and Management

To assist in management of the marine reserves, we seek to understand the knowledge and attitudes of stakeholders and other Oregon residents pertaining to perceptions of marine reserve purposes, regulations, monitoring and research, management, and enforcement. Collecting this information will allow us to tailor our marine reserves outreach to better serve Oregonians and engage community members and stakeholders in the implementation of these areas.

Assessment of the Non-Market Values of the Reserves

To gain a more complete understanding of the potential economic and social effects of marine reserves, we are working to identify the non-market values connected to these sites. These data will be complementary to market (i.e., extractive) data, and will allow us to paint a broader picture of how Oregon residents value the ocean and marine reserves. This research will look at different cultural values associated with the natural resources and ecological characteristics of these areas across stakeholders, communities, and among the general public.

For Researchers

Are you interested in conducting research pertaining to Oregon’s marine reserves?

If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Our Staff if you have questions or would be interested in exploring possible collaborations.