from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
ODFW’s Marine Reserves Program has a new leader: Lindsay Aylesworth.
Aylesworth took the helm in June 2022 and recently was permanently appointed to the position. She oversees the management and scientific monitoring of Oregon’s five marine reserves and nine Marine Protected Areas and works on marine reserves policy.
Her first major task was leading the rollout of the Marine Reserves Synthesis Report. The report is an extensive overview of the first 10 years of marine reserves and an important check-in on development and execution of this relatively new nearshore conservation and monitoring program. It gives Oregonians a chance to reflect on the accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, and contributions since the program’s inception in 2012.
“Many people want to know what we’re learning from the research, and now we have stories to share from sea star wasting disease to ocean acidification and hypoxia, and the social and economic impacts of the reserves,” Aylesworth said.
One key to success of the marine reserves program is a strong partnership with coastal communities and fishermen.
“I really value the community and conservation groups, dedicated volunteers, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium that all helped propel the program to where it is today. From tidepool ambassador programs, outreach events, and volunteering time to collect ecological data, these passionate people extend the ability of our program to collect data and engage local communities,” Aylesworth said.
“One of my favorite aspects of this program is working with the fishing community. We share our common concerns for the ocean and work together to understand ocean changes. Our fishermen are so observant, and we rely on their expert knowledge to help make our program better.”
Aylesworth previously led ecological monitoring in Oregon’s five marine reserves. During COVID-19, she and her ecological team traded field work for writing 42 monitoring reports to summarize the latest results of ecological monitoring and research. She also advised marine reserve policy, research, and monitoring in California.
Before joining ODFW, her marine-related work included international policy and trade of marine species, bycatch in Pacific Island fisheries, endangered marine species research, and coral reef ecology.
She received her doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia, where she studied data-poor marine species in Southeast Asia.
ODFW’s Marine Reserves Program is the first long-term nearshore ocean conservation and monitoring program designed to track and understand ocean changes in Oregon’s state waters.
It is the first broad human dimensions research program focused on examining the economic, social, and cultural dynamics of the Oregon coast and coastal communities in relation to marine resources. Beyond Oregon, it is one of the most thorough human dimensions research programs ever focused on Marine Protected Areas.