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Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Condition Summary Table

Offshore Environment | Nearshore Environment | Estuarine Environment

Nearshore Environment

The following table summarizes the "State of Sanctuary Resources" section of this report. The first two columns list 17 questions used to rate the condition and trends for qualities of water, habitat, living resources, and maritime archaeological resources. The Rating column consists of a color, indicating resource condition, and a symbol, indicating trend (see key for definitions). The Basis for Judgment column provides a short statement or list of criteria used to justify the rating. The Description of Findings column presents the statement that best characterizes resource status, and corresponds to the assigned color rating. The Description of Findings statements are customized for all possible ratings for each question. Please see Appendix A for further clarification of the questions and the Description of Findings statements. The "State of Sanctuary Resources" section of the report provides a more thorough and detailed summary of the ratings and judgments described in this table.

Because of the considerable differences within the sanctuary between the offshore, nearshore, and estuarine environments, each question found in the State of the Sanctuary Resources section of this report was answered separately for each of these environments. 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.

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  Questions/
Resources
Rating Basis For Judgement Description Findings Sanctuary Response
WATER
1. Are specific or multiple stressors, including changing oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, affecting water quality?
Elevated levels of contaminants (e.g., POPs, heavy metals), nutrients, sediments, pathogens in some locations; on-going input of established and emerging pollutants. Selected conditions may inhibit the development of assemblages and may cause measurable but not severe declines in living resources and habitats. Hazardous materials have been removed from some sunken or grounded vessels. Active water quality protection program is in place and involves planning, research, monitoring, education, and outreach. Sanctuary management plan increases focus on reducing point and non-point sources of contaminants into nearshore waters and decreasing beach closures.
2. What is the eutrophic condition of sanctuary waters and how is it changing?
Frequent, localized, and enhanced nutrient enrichment; frequent algal blooms sometimes linked to biotoxin accumulation in fish, birds and mammals. Selected conditions may preclude full development of living resource assemblages and habitats, but are not likely to cause substantial or persistent declines.
3. Do sanctuary waters pose risks to human health?
?
Warnings and closures of some beaches and lagoons due pathogen indicators; contaminated shellfish at some locations and during some seasons. Selected conditions have caused or are likely to cause severe impacts, but cases to date have not suggested a pervasive problem.
4. What are the levels of human activities that may influence water quality and how are they changing?
?
Efforts to reduce pollution may be offset by intensification of human activities in coastal watersheds. Selected activities have resulted in measurable resource impacts, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.
HABITAT
5. What is the abundance and distribution of major habitat types and how is it changing?
Localized modification or loss of coastal habitat, primarily through armoring of coastal bluff, erosion of sandy shoreline, and landslide disposal on rocky reef. Selected habitat loss or alteration has taken place, precluding full development of living resource assemblages, but it is unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation in living resources or water quality. Vessel routing patterns reduce the risk of groundings. Bottom trawling has been banned in state waters. Sanctuary management plan increases focus on coastal development through the coastal armoring, desalination, and dredging action plans. The sanctuary supports the monitoring of contaminants in nearshore habitats.
6. What is the condition of biologically structured habitats and how is it changing?
Monitoring programs indicate healthy populations and no major perturbations. Habitats are in pristine or near-pristine condition and are unlikely to preclude full community development.
7. What are the contaminant concentrations in monument habitats and how are they changing?
Elevated contaminants near urban, maritime, or agricultural activities; continued input of contaminants from point and non-point sources. Selected contaminants may inhibit the development of assemblages and may cause measurable but not severe declines in living resources or water quality.
8. What are the levels of human activities that may influence habitat quality and how are they changing?
?
Trampling, all forms of extraction, and sediment disposal can have measurable, localized impacts; cumulative trend for the numerous activities not determined. Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on habitat quality.
LIVING RESOURCES
9.What is the status of biodiversity and how is it changing?
?
Fishing, collecting, and poaching have reduced overall biodiversity; improvements likely in new protected areas, but continued impacts at some locations on rocky shores. Selected biodiversity loss may inhibit full community development and function and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity. Research and monitoring programs supported by SIMoN focus heavily on addressing causes of impacts to living resources and evaluating the effectiveness of management actions. Shoreline and kayak-based interpreters help visitors reduce impacts to wildlife. Sanctuary management plan increases focus on conservation of living resources through the Marine Protect Areas, Introduced Species, and Wildlife Disturbance action plans. Participation in research and a long-range management plan to reduce impacts from landslide repair and disposal activities. Public outreach programs to promote stewardship of endangered and protected species.
10. What is the status of environmentally sustainable fishing and how is it changing?
Studies have found decreased abundance and size structure in fished areas compared to marine reserves. Restrictive management strategies have improved the status of previously overfished stocks. Extraction may inhibit full community development and function and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity.
11. What is the status of non-indigenous species and how is it changing?
A few non-indigenous species have been identified, and some appear to be spreading. Non-indigenous species are not suspected or do not appear to affect ecosystem integrity (full community development and function).
12. What is the status of key species and how is it changing?
up arrow
Abundance of some key species in each habitat type is lower than would be expected in a natural state. Possible community-level impacts on rocky shores. Selected key or keystone species are at reduced levels, perhaps precluding full community development and function, but substantial or persistent declines are not expected.
13. What is the condition or health of key species and how is it changing?
down arrow
Evidence of recent impacts from withering syndrome on black abalone. Clear evidence of health problems in sea otters, but limited or no data for other species that may be affected. The diminished condition of selected key resources may cause a measurable but not severe reduction in ecological function, but recovery is possible.
14. What are the levels of human activities that may influence living resource quality and how are they changing?
up arrow
Variety of visitation, extraction, and coastal development activities, some of which are increasing in frequency. Selected activities have resulted in measurable living resource impacts, but evidence suggests effects are localized, not widespread.
MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
15. What is the integrity of known maritime archaeological resources and how is it changing?
?
Divers have looted sites, but not all sites have been studied to determine trend. The diminished condition of selected archaeological resources has reduced, to some extent, their historical, scientific, or educational value, and may affect the eligibility of some sites for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Shipwreck characterization efforts are underway to locate, document, and assess submerged resources. Sanctuary management plan increases focus on identifying, protecting, and raising awareness of maritime archaeological resources in the sanctuary.
16. Do known maritime archaeological resources pose an environmental hazard and is this threat changing?
MBNMS Resource Inventory indicates no known environmental hazards. Known maritime archaeological resources pose few or no environmental threats.
17. What are the levels of human activities that may influence maritime archaeological resource quality and how are they changing?
?
Recreational diving occurs on wreck sites, but activity level is unknown. Some potentially relevant activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on maritime archaeological resource integrity.

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