NEWPORT - Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center is the place to be June 11-12 for Oregonians who are interested in the future of U.S. ocean and coastal policy.

The OSU center's public wing is one of eight regional sites across the nation which will host issue panels and free public satellite telecasts as part of the National Ocean Conference.

The conference, in Monterey, Calif, is a centerpiece of this country's observance of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Ocean. Its goal is to underscore the importance of oceans to life on the planet, and to focus attention on some of the stresses which threaten ocean resources.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Navy, the conference will explore:


  • Ocean commerce;
  • Ocean environment and health;
  • Ocean exploration, research and education;
  • Oceans and global security.

President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and the secretaries of Commerce and Navy are expected to take part, as are representatives of government and industry, scientists, environmentalists and the public.

Regional conference sites, including OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center, will convene their own panels to discuss some of those same issues, and to develop recommendations which will be passed on to the interagency Coastal America office.

The Oregon panel will be moderated by retired OSU President John Byrne, an oceanographer and long-time advocate for ocean research and education.

Other panelists include George Keller, retired OSU vice provost for research; Make Graybill of the South Slough Estuary sanctuary in Charleston; Dave Fox and Neal Coenen of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Richard Hildreth of the University of Oregon Ocean and Coastal Law Center; OSU seafood and fisheries researcher Gil Sylvia; Bill Peterson of the National Marine Fisheries Service; and representatives of the state Department of Land Conservation and Development.

The public is invited to watch the Monterey satellite telecasts on Thursday and Friday in the HMSC public wing auditorium, free of charge.

Thursday's session (from 1:30 to 4 p.m.) includes the conference plenary session moderated by Vice President Gore. Friday's session, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., includes President Clinton's keynote speech and partial proceedings of the conferences Congressional panel.

Although the telecast is not interactive, Oregon viewers will have a chance to write down their own recommendations for action on coastal issues. Those comments will be forwarded to National Ocean Conference organizers along with the more formal panel recommendations.

The HMSC program and panel were organized by Vicki Osis, Oregon Sea Grant marine educator, as part of the public wing's new role as a U.S. Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center.


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Vicki Osis, 541-867-0257