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Concluding Remarks

This report is the first attempt to describe the relationship between human pressures and the status and trends of natural resources within Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. By doing so, this condition report helps to identify the pressures and their impacts that may warrant monitoring and remediation in the years to come.

Overall, the resources protected by Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary appear to be in fair condition. Of the 17 resources or questions identified, three appear to be in good condition, four appear to be in “good/fair” condition, three more appear to be in fair condition, one appears to be in “fair/poor” condition. Two of the resources or questions that were considered do not apply. None of the resources identified were listed in poor condition. The trends for four of the resources or questions were undetermined, although rapidly growing coastal populations are considered emerging threats to all of the resources of Gray’s Reef over time. In recent years, research conducted at Gray’s Reef has become focused less on simple characterization and more on oceanographic processes, biogeographic distribution, and sources and fates of individual organisms and their contributions to the ecosystem as a whole. The establishment of a research area within the sanctuary boundaries is a step that would immediately allow for studies of specific questions related to the impacts of particular fishing practices on benthic invertebrate and fish communities. For questions within this report that were not sufficiently answered due to uncertainty or a lack of sufficient information to judge status or trends, it is hoped that the research area will facilitate research and monitoring that better resolves them.

It is important to understand the factors that help to structure the resources of the sanctuary, and how uses of its resources may affect their health, viability and longevity. The information presented in this report enables managers to look back and consider past changes in the status of the resources, and provides guidance for continued resource management as future challenges are presented.

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