Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

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Chapter 7. MONITORING AND EVALUATION

In general, describe how the nominated site addresses monitoring and evaluation


Long-term monitoring of the sanctuary is designed to examine the health of the reef through direct measurements of the percent of coral cover, the occurrence of coral mortality, coral diversity, and growth or retreat of coral tissue. By tracking changes in these parameters from year to year, the monitoring acts as an early warning system for the sanctuary to take immediate steps to prevent any further loss of health on the reef. It also has provided a baseline of information to evaluate change to the ecosystem and aid decisions on how to respond. In addition, the site is part of a national monitoring framework that uses ecosystembased monitoring programs to address management information needs. It identifies four primary components common among marine ecosystems: water, habitats, living resources and maritime archaeological resources. By assuming that a common marine ecosystem framework can be applied to the National Marine Sanctuary System a series of questions are posed to every sanctuary and used as evaluation criteria to assess resource condition and trends. The questions provide a tool with which the program can measure its progress toward maintaining and improving natural resource quality throughout the system. Reports summarizing resource status and trends are prepared for each marine sanctuary approximately every five years and updated as new information allows. The information helps set the stage for the management plan review process and identifies monitoring, characterization and research priorities to address gaps, day-to-day information needs and new threats.

What indicators are used to evaluate management effectiveness and conservation success, and the impact of the management plan on the local communities


Indicators by category Comments
Evaluation of management effectiveness
Are specific or multiple stressors, including changing oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, affecting water quality and how are they changing?
What is the eutrophic condition of sanctuary waters and how is it changing?
Do sanctuary waters pose risks to human health and how are they changing?
What are the levels of human activities that may influence water quality and how are they changing?
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of species populations within and around protected area
What is the status of non-indigenous species and how is it changing?
What is the status of key species and how is it changing?
What is the condition or health of key species and how is it changing?
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of habitats within and around the protected area
What are the abundance and distribution of major habitat types and how are they changing?
What is the condition of biologically structured habitats and how is it changing?
What are the contaminant concentrations in sanctuary habitats and how are they changing?
What are the levels of human activities that may influence habitat quality and how are they changing?
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of ecological processes within and around the protected area
What is the status of biodiversity and how is it changing?
What are the levels of human activities that may influence living resource quality and how are they changing?
Evaluation of the impact of the management plan on the local communities
Periodic surveys of the impact of the sanctuary within the local socio-economic setting In addition to the above criteria with regard to the ecosystem, the sanctuary is continually evaluating its relationships with its constituents and stakeholders, and has undertaken periodic surveys of the impact of the sanctuary within the local socio-economic setting. This also takes place at quarterly Sanctuary Advisory Council meetings. The sanctuary is required by law to periodically hold a public review of sanctuary management plans. This review has just been completed (April 2012) and has made a number of changes to better manage the sanctuary’s resources and use.