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About This Report

This "condition report" provides a summary of marine resources in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, pressures on those resources, current condition and trends, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment. Specifically, the document includes information on the status and trends of water quality, habitat, living resources and maritime archaeological resources and the human activities that affect them. It presents responses to a set of questions posed to all sanctuaries. Resource status of the Flower Garden Banks is rated on a scale from good to poor, and the timelines used for comparison vary from topic to topic. Trends in the status of resources are also reported, and are generally based on observed changes in status over the past five years, unless otherwise specified.

To prepare this report, sanctuary staff consulted with a working group of outside experts familiar with the resources and with knowledge of previous and current scientific investigations. Evaluations of status and trends are based on interpretation of quantitative and, when necessary, non-quantitative assessments, and the observations of scientists, managers and users. The ratings reflect the collective interpretation of the status of local issues of concern among sanctuary program staff and outside experts based on their knowledge and perception of local problems. The final ratings were determined by sanctuary staff. This report has been peer reviewed and complies with the White House Office of Management and Budget's peer review standards as outlined in the Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.

This is the first attempt to describe comprehensively the status, pressures and trends of resources at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Additionally, the report helps identify gaps in current monitoring efforts, as well as causal factors that may require monitoring and potential remediation in the years to come. The data discussed will enable us to not only acknowledge prior changes in resource status, but will provide guidance for future management as we face challenges imposed by such potential threats as increasing visitor use, water quality degradation, artificial reefs and climate change.

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