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. 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.
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 natural 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.
Questions 4, 8, 14, and 17 examine the levels of human activities that may influence resources in the sanctuary. While each question has received a status and trend rating and an associated basis for judgment explanation, it should be noted that trend data are lacking for many of the human acitivites that were considered. In addition, the relationship between impacts resulting from an increased population in the area with the various management and educational efforts that are designed to mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic pressures was difficult to assess.
Because of the considerable differences within the sanctuary between offshore, nearshore, and estuarine environments, each question was answered separately for each of these environments. The offshore environment is defined as extending from the 30-meter isobath out to the offshore boundary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and includes the seafloor and water column. The nearshore environment is defined as extending from the shoreline boundary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (mean high water) to the 30-meter isobath and includes the seafloor and water column. Though many small estuaries occur along the central California coastline, Elkhorn Slough is the only large estuary located inside the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.