Summary and Findings
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag, encompassing 137,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean - an area larger than all the country's national parks combined. Thanks to their isolation and past management efforts, the reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are considered to be in nearly pristine condition. Home to the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtles and high abundances of more...
Papahānaumokuākea Monument Condition Summary Table
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.
Status: Good Good/Fair Fair Fair/Poor Poor Undet.
▲ Conditions appear to be improving.
- Conditions do not appear to be changing.
▼ Conditions appear to be declining.
? Undeterminted trend.
N/A Question not applicable.
Basis For Judgement
Are specific or multiple stressors, including changing oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, affecting water quality and how are they changing?
Published literature indicates temperature increases.
Selected conditions may preclude full development of living resource assemblages and habitats, but are not likely to cause substantial or persistent declines.
Monitoring of physical and biological parameters to evaluate extent of the issue.
What is the eutrophic condition of monument waters and how is it changing?
Lack of anthropogenic inputs.
Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect living resources or habitat quality.
Monument designation regulates access and requires reporting for on-going monitoring.
Do sanctuary waters pose risks to human health and how are they changing?
Lack of sources, causes and human exposure.
Conditions do not appear to have the potential to negatively affect human health.
No current issues.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence water quality and how are they changing?
Limited access; regulations prohibit discharges.
Few or no activities occur that are likely to negatively affect water quality.
Continuous evaluation of possible impacts of ship traffic.
What are the abundance and distribution of major habitat types and how are they changing?
Marine debris is degrading beaches and reefs. Potential loss of habitat from climate change and sea-level rise.
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.
Active detection and removal program to reduce accumulations of marine debris. Monitoring of physical and biological parameters of climate change.
What is the condition of biologically structured habitats and how is it changing?
Marine debris, coral disease and perhaps bleaching frequency.
Selected habitat loss or alteration has taken place, precluding full development of living resources, but it is unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation in living resources or water quality.
Supporting research to better understand the impacts. Development of best management practices to minimize transfer between sites.
What are the contaminant concentrations in monument habitats and how are they changing?
Localized contamination is adversely affecting associated habitat and wildlife.
Selected contaminants may preclude full development of living resource assemblages, but are not likely to cause substantial or persistent degradation.
No management response.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence habitat quality and how are they changing?
Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on habitat quality.
Rigorous permitting and monitoring of human activities to ensure limited cumulative effects.
9. What is the status of biodiversity and how is it changing?
Assessment/monitoring activities to date.
Biodiversity appears to reflect pristine or near-pristine conditions and promotes ecosystem integrity (full community development and function).
Continuing efforts to characterize biodiversity.
What is the status of environmentally sustainable fishing and how is it changing?
Limited activity; existing fishery to be phased out by June 2011.
Extraction does not appear to affect ecosystem integrity (full community development and function).
Developing fisheries independent stock assessment methods that will be implemented post fishing cessation.
What is the status of non-indigenous species and how is it changing?
Few species with isolated distributions; uncertainty of potential impact.
Non-indigenous species exist, precluding full community development and function, but are unlikely to cause substantial or persistent degradation of ecosystem integrity.
Prevention through hull inspections and cleaning, marine debris removal, quarantines in place for most islands; monitoring programs may document distribution and abundance of non-indigenous species.
What is the status of key species and how is it changing?
Monk seal decline; corals and predatory fish populations high and stable.
The reduced abundance of selected keystone species may inhibit full community development and function and may cause measurable but not severe degradation of ecosystem integrity; or selected key species are at reduced levels, but recovery is possible.
Mitigation efforts include predator removal and seal relocation to improve survivorship. Implementation of recovery plans for monk seals and ongoing research to understand foraging, diet and habitat.
What is the condition or health of key species and how is it changing?
Monk seal starvation and body condition; debris ingestion by seabirds; predatory fish and most corals in good condition and stable.
The diminished condition of selected key resources may cause a measurable but not severe reduction in ecological function, but recovery is possible.
Intense research and monitoring target of key endangered species.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence living resource quality and how are they changing?
Some potentially harmful activities exist, but they do not appear to have had a negative effect on living resource quality.
Through regulated activities visitation is monitored to ensure that impacts are minimized.
MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
What is the integrity of known maritime archaeological resources and how is it changing?
Natural deterioration (physical, biological and chemical).
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.
Documentation of known sites. Ongoing surveys to identify new sites.
Do known maritime archaeological resources pose an environmental hazard and is this threat changing?
No known resources with hazardous cargos.
Known maritime archaeological resources pose few or no environmental threats.
Continued monitoring and exploration to locate potential threats.
What are the levels of human activities that may influence maritime archaeological resource quality and how are they changing?
Few instances of resource removal or damage.
Few or no activities occur that are likely to negatively affect maritime archaeological resource integrity.
All activities are regulated by permits; known locations are protected by federal law; outreach and education increasing awareness of importance of protection.
▲ Conditions appear to be improving.