Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Condition Summary Table
2016 Condition Report

The following table summarizes the various evaluations presented in this report. The first two columns list 17 questions (Issues) used to rate the condition and trends for drivers and qualities of human activities, water, habitat, living resources, and maritime archaeological resources. The Rating column displays four pieces of information: a color and term that indicates status; a symbol that indicates trend; and a shaded scale for both that indicates confidence (See Key for example and 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 as described in Appendix A. The Description of Findings statements are customized for all possible ratings for each question.


key for the ratings for issues


# Issue Rating Basis for Judgment Description of Findings
1 Drivers rating: fair but worsening Growing populations and per capita incomes in the counties adjacent to the sanctuary, in the U.S. generally, and in China, drive demand that promotes shipping and resource use; relatively low, stable fuel prices further stimulate visitation. Selected drivers are influencing pressures in ways that cause measurable resource impacts.
2 Human Activities and Water Quality rating: medium confidence good/fair Some levels of human activities are decreasing, some are increasing, and some are stable. Few monitoring data sets exist. Evidence showing human activities have negatively affected water quality is sparse and inconclusive. Oil spill frequency and volume has generally decreased, apart from the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill. Short- and long- term oil spill impacts still need to be assessed. Vessel grounding impacts are localized to grounding site. Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they have not been shown to degrade water quality.
3 Human Activities and Habitat rating: medium confidence fair Consistent with our findings in 2009, a number of human activities have localized impacts on habitats in the sanctuary. Marine debris continues to occur, while clean-up efforts also continue. Fishing activity has remained high, although changing gear types has resulted in reduced impact to benthic habitats. Visitation to the islands remains consistent. Selected activities have caused measurable resource impacts, but effects are localized and not widespread or persistent.
4 Human Activities and Living Resources rating: medium confidence fair Consistent with our findings in 2009, a number of human activities have measurable, localized impacts on living resources in the sanctuary and many of these activities are continuing at similar levels or increasing in intensity. Selected activities have caused measurable living resource impacts, but effects are localized and not widespread or persistent.
5 Human Activities and Maritime Archaeological Resources rating: fair not changing Impacts to maritime archaeological resources may result from site looting, injury by divers, vessel activity, and bottom trawling. Increases in education, enforcement, and trawling closures may allow for improvement. Selected activities have caused measurable impacts to maritime archaeological resources, but effects are localized and not widespread or persistent.
Water Quality
# Issue Rating Basis for Judgment Description of Findings
6 Eutrophic Conditions rating: very high confidence good not changing Mainland eutrophic conditions generally do not reach islands due to their distance from shore. Extreme episodic events may cause inputs to reach the islands. There are also localized inputs, such as marine mammals, seabirds, and vessel discharges. Nitrate and phosphate concentrations have gradually been increasing at depth, but have been stable in surface waters — apart from 2013- 2016 when surface nutrients decreased in response to anomalous warm water and reduced mixing. Typically, chlorophyll decreases when temperatures spike seasonally. Eutrophication has not been documented or does not appear to have the potential to negatively affect ecological integrity.
7 Human Health Risks rating: medium confidence good/fair not changing Presence of Pseudo-nitzschia is cyclic and most frequent with positive upwelling anomalies. Periods of high domoic acid have become more frequent starting in 2001. The 2015 bloom was unprecedented in abundance and spatial extent. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing in frequency and intensity. No reports of human illness; however, shellfish and crab fisheries, marine mammals, and seabirds have been negatively affected. One or more water quality indicators suggest the potential for human health impacts, but human health impacts have not been reported.
8 Climate Drivers rating: medium confidence fair worsening Sea surface temperature is increasing, as are episodic warm water anomalies. There were significant effects of the recent warm water event and El Niño, including low primary productivity. Warming has led to reduced efficiency of the biologic pump (flux of organic material to depth), which in turn has decreased dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water column. In general, DO near the surface decreases seasonally during upwelling events. Large-scale climate oscillations can influence other water quality parameters, as well; for example, Pacific Decadal Oscillation influences HABs. Seawater pH has been steadily decreasing over time. Organisms in CINMS are accustomed to variable pH and therefore, may be less vulnerable to change, but we know little about certain habitats, such as deep sea. Some sanctuary habitats may provide buffer against pH decreases (e.g., eelgrass beds). Climate-related changes such as the warm water event, decreasing dissolved oxygen, and ocean acidification have caused measurable, but not severe degradation in some attributes of ecological integrity.
9 Other Stressors rating: undetermined Here, "other stressors" are those that are hard to quantify in the water column and/or that have indirect impacts; therefore, there are few datasets to assess. The sanctuary's offshore location buffers it from the water quality issues experienced off the mainland; however certain wind and circulation conditions can transport contaminated coastal waters to the sanctuary. It is believed microplastics are prevalent and increasing throughout the ocean.
# Issue Rating Basis for Judgment Description of Findings
10 Integrity of Major Habitats rating: high confidence fair worsening Monitoring programs indicate some measurable loss in many components of major habitats including kelp forests, understory kelp, algal groups, mussel beds and deep-sea corals. Kelp and deep-sea coral declines are primarily in the eastern sanctuary. Other components of major habitat are stable or improving. Selected habitat loss or alteration has caused measurable, but not severe degradation in some attributes of ecological integrity.
11 Contaminant Concentrations rating: high confidence good/fair not changing Declines in several contaminants were measured in mussel tissues, but levels remain high for others. Some infauna contaminant samples are no longer considered pristine and received a slight downgrade in rating. Sediment contaminants are present at low levels. More data are needed to determine any impacts on habitat, marine life, and future trends. Selected contaminants are suspected and may degrade some attributes of ecological integrity, but have not yet caused measurable degradation.
Living Resources
# Issue Rating Basis for Judgment Description of Findings
12 Keystone and Foundation Species rating: high confidence fair not worsening Severely reduced abundance of sea stars and key pelagic forage species, and reduced abundance of lobster and sheephead in areas open to harvest, may impact ecological integrity at some locations. Other keystone and foundation species are stable or increasing. The status of keystone or foundation species suggests measurable, but not severe degradation in some attributes of ecological integrity.
13 Other Focal Species rating: very high confidence fair undetermined changing Some focal species absent or substantially reduced which may reduce ecological function, but recovery happening for some species or in some locations. Trends variable across focal species; some stable or increasing while others have declined since 2009. Selected focal species are at reduced levels, but recovery is possible.
14 Non-Indigenous Species rating: medium confidence fair worsening Several non-indigenous species have been observed at one or more sites in sanctuary since 2009. Sargassum horneri has spread to three islands and is increasing in abundance with potentially negative consequences for native kelp communities. Non-indigenous species have caused measurable, but not severe degradation in some attributes of ecological integrity.
15 Biodiversity rating: medium confidence fair undetermined changing A few recent changes in abundance of key species may impact biodiversity; however, more time is needed to determine if they will persist. Shallow habitats, deep habitat, and pelagic habitats show different trends in biodiversity. Selected biodiversity loss or change has caused measurable, but not severe degradation in some attributes of ecological integrity.
Maritime Archaeological Resources*
# Issue Rating Basis for Judgment Description of Findings
16 Integrity of Maritime Archaeological Resources rating: fair not changing Past looting of some shallow sites and natural deterioration of all sites contribute to declining integrity; integrity of deeper wrecks is unknown, but some accidental fouling by fishing gear may have occurred. The diminished condition of selected archaeological resources has reduced, to some extent, their historical, archaeological, scientific, or educational value, and may affect the eligibility of some sites for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
17 Maritime Archaeological Resources Threat to Environment rating: good/fair not changing Sites just outside sanctuary boundaries pose a greater threat from leaching chemicals, such as bunker fuels and cargos. Selected maritime archaeological resources may pose isolated or limited environmental threats, but substantial or persistent impacts are not expected.

*Note that a confidence score was not assigned to the Drivers question (1) or the Maritime Archaeological Resource questions (5, 16, and 17) because subject matter experts were not consulted on these ratings. Due to a limited number of experts in these fields, and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) in-house experts available, ONMS internally evaluated the Driver question (1) and the Maritime Archaeological Resource questions (5, 16, and 17). Two socioeconomists with ONMS determined the Driver question rating. Two archaeological experts with the ONMS Maritime Heritage Program determined the Maritime Archaeological Resource question ratings; these subject experts have been monitoring existing archaeological sites since the 1980s, as well as recording new discoveries.