News Releases


New Carissa Oil Spill
From Response to Restoration

New Carissa Oil Spill Natural Resource Trustees
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Home Page
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Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians (CTSI) Home Page
Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umqua & Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) Home Page

New Carissa on the water (USFWS).

On February 4, 1999, the 640-foot freighter New Carissa ran aground on the Oregon coast during a major winter storm.  The vessel was carrying nearly 400,000 gallons of fuel oil and diesel onboard.  After 4 days in the heavy surf, the New Carissa began leaking oil.  On 11 February, the New Carissa broke in half, releasing an estimated 70,000-140,000 gallons of fuel into the marine environment.

Biologist conducting a survey on the beach (USFWS).

Responding to the Spill
Biologists from the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service went on-scene immediately and began searching beaches for dead or injured wildlife. Search teams helped capture 230 live birds, including 17 western snowy plovers*, oiled during the incident. The birds were cleaned, cared for and released back into the wild.

Dead seabird on the beach (USFWS).

Assessing the Damage to Seabirds and Shorebirds
Search teams recovered more than 1,300 dead seabirds including 26 marbled murrelets*.  Through field studies and computer modeling, an assessment team estimated that 2,453 seabirds (including 262 marbled murrelets) and 672 shorebirds (including 4 to 8 snowy plovers) were killed or injured by the spill.

Restoring Seabirds and Shorebirds

Coastal forest (USFWS).

Marbled Murrelets
The assessment team secured $26.7 million to purchase nearly 4,300 acres of coastal forest for threatened marbled murrelets.  Two parcels, equaling 3,851 acres, were given to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, who have strong cultural ties to the area, and a 400-acre parcel will be added to the Siuslaw National Forest. All three parcels will be managed for the benefit and conservation of marbled murrelets.

Western Snowy Plover (USFWS).

Snowy Plovers
The assessment team also secured funding to restore 30 acres of former nesting habitat critical to western snowy plovers.  After removal of non-native European beachgrass, the restored area will be maintained as nesting habitat for snowy plovers for the next 20 to 30 years.

Natural Resource Trustees partner with Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge to Restore Seabirds and Shorebirds

The assessment team worked closely with the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge and local conservation groups to develop over $11 million in restoration and environmental education projects that benefit other seabirds and shorebirds species along the Oregon coast. Projects currently planned include:

Shorebird Projects - 672 shorebirds were lost due to the New Carissa oil spill


Bird GraphicRestore 400 acres of salt marsh for migrating and nesting shorebirds at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.  This will be the largest project of its kind in Oregon.  In addition to the four agencies and two tribes that make up the assessment team, a number of other organizations are involved in this restoration effort including the Coquille Indian Tribe, Ducks Unlimited, Cape Arago Audubon Society, Oregon Habitat Joint Venture, Friends of Southern Oregon Coastal Refuges, South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, The Nature Conservancy, The Archaeological Conservancy, Portland State University, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University and the Federal Highway Administration.


Seabird Projects - 2,203 seabirds were lost due to the New Carissa oil spill

Common murres (USFWS)

Bird GraphicControl of non-native predators on seabird colonies in southern Oregon. Red fox have recently moved into southern Oregon from California, resulting in the complete elimination of nesting seabirds from a number of colonies. The colonies are expected to fully recover once the predators are removed. The Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon Parks and Recreation and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services will participate in the effort, which will protect the seabird colonies from predators for 30 years.

Poster depicting coastal programs.

Bird GraphicDesign, fabricate and install educational panels at beach access locations near seabird colonies.  The panels will raise public awareness of seabirds nesting in the area and discuss how beachgoers can avoid disturbing the sensitive colonies.  Oregon Parks and Recreation will assist in locating and installing the panels.

*These species are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Lost or Diminished Recreation Opportunities - 27,974 to 29,204 lost due to New Carissa oil spill

During the grounding of the New Carissa on the North Spit of the Coos River, the re-grounding at Governor Patterson State Park, and the subsequent clean-up efforts, which continued for several weeks, an estimated 27,974 to 29,204 public recreation trips were lost or diminished in the affected areas. The value of the lost recreation opportunities at sites managed by the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Oregon State Parks is estimated to be between $395,756 and $413,056. Recreation managers for the affected agencies have identified a series of projects (totaling $404,000) to compensate for recreational losses resulting from the M/V New Carissa incident.

Photo - Trail improvement workers (USDA Forest Service).

• Trail and Parking Lot Improvements at Governor Patterson State Park

• Beach Signing to Minimize Recreation Impacts to Snowy Plovers at Coos River North Spit and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Photo- New signage (USDA Forest Service).

• New Off-Highway Vehicle Staging Area and Vehicle Management Fencing at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

• Trail, Sand Road, and Signing Improvements at North Spit of Coos

• Improved Directional Signing and New Visitor Information Kiosks at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and North Spit of Coos

Photo - Facitlity improvements at campground (USDA Forest Service).

• New Campground Toilets and Fully Accessible Campsites (for people with disabilities) at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area




Date of Incident:
Reported Thursday,
February 4th, 1999

Near Coos Bay, Oregon
Near Waldport, Oregon

Intermediate Fuel Oil & Diesel/ 70,000 to 140,000 gallons


Responsible Parties:
Shipowner: Green Atlas Shipping S.A.
Operator: TMM Co., Ltd.
Insurer: The Britannia Steam Ship Insurance Association Ltd.
Master: Benjamin Morgado
Consent Decree & Judgment


  • Marbled Murrelet:
    262 killed
    (threatened species)
    Species Fact Sheet

  • Other Seabirds:
    2,203 injured or killed

  • Western Snowy Plover
    4 to 8 killed
    (threatened species)
    Species Fact Sheet

  • Other Shorebirds:
    672 injured or killed

  • Recreation:
    29,000 trips lost or diminished