State of Sanctuary Resources
This section provides summaries of the condition and trends within four resource areas: water, habitat, living resources and maritime archaeological resources. Sanctuary staff and selected outside experts considered a series of questions about each resource area. The set of questions is derived from the mission of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and a system-wide monitoring framework (NMSP 2004) developed to ensure the timely flow of data and information to those responsible for managing and protecting resources in the ocean and coastal zone, and to those that use, depend on, and study the ecosystems encompassed by the sanctuaries. Appendix A (Rating Scheme for System-Wide Monitoring Questions) clarifies the set of questions and presents statements that were used to judge the status and assign a corresponding color code on a scale from Good to Poor. These statements are customized for each question. In addition, the following options are available for all questions: “N/A” the question does not apply; and “undetermined” resource status is undetermined. In addition, symbols are used to indicate trends: “ ▲” conditions appear to be improving; “▬” conditions do not appear to be changing; “ ▼” conditions appear to be declining; and “?” the trend is undetermined.
This section of the report provides answers to the set of questions. Due to the diversity of habitat types and communities within the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, it is difficult to provide a single sanctuary-wide status and trend rating for each. A primary aspect is the difference between open coastal and sheltered waters - therefore, this section of the report divides sanctuary resources into two groups: 1) those found in the exposed coastal and offshore environments, and 2) those found in the sheltered environments of estuaries and lagoons. The estuarine and lagoon environments considered in the sanctuary condition report include Bolinas Lagoon, Tomales Bay, Estero Americano and Estero de San Antonio. Answers are supported by specific examples of data, investigations, monitoring and observations, and the basis for judgment is provided in the text and summarized in the table for each resource area. Where published or additional information exists, the reader is provided with appropriate references and Web links.
When answering the set of questions, sanctuary staff and consulted experts did not consider the impacts from global climate changes. The Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary staff have developed a separate document, titled Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, 2010 (available at http://farallones.noaa.gov). This document identifies observed and predicted effects of global climate change on sanctuary resources. This document serves as the foundation for the sanctuary's future climate change action plan, which will outline strategies to reduce carbon emissions at the site, change community behavior, manage for increased ecosystem resilience and protection, and monitor the effects of climate change.
Judging an ecosystem as having "integrity" implies the relative wholeness of ecosystem structure and function, along with the spatial and temporal variability inherent in these characteristics, as determined by the ecosystem's evolutionary history. Ecosystem integrity is reflected in the system's ability to produce and maintain adaptive biotic elements. Fluctuations of a system's natural characteristics, including abiotic drivers, biotic composition, complex relationships, and functional processes and redundancies are unaltered and are either likely to persist or be regained following natural disturbance.