This "condition report" provides a summary of resources in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (sanctuary), pressures on those resources, current conditions 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 (Appendix A). Resource status of Florida Keys 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.
Sanctuary staff consulted with a group of outside experts familiar with the resources and with knowledge of previous and current scientific investigations in the sanctuary. 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.
Despite a large diversity in habitat types and communities within the Florida Keys sanctuary, a single, sanctuary-wide status and trend rating is given for each question. Although the ratings are generalized for the entire sanctuary, text found in the report section titled "State of Sanctuary Resources" provides a detailed description of the basis for judgment for each question, and may include recognition and description of any conditions that are not consistent with the rating.
This is the first attempt to describe comprehensively the status, pressures and trends of resources at Florida Keys 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 resource managers and stakeholders to not only acknowledge prior changes in resource status, but will provide guidance for future management challenges.