Condition Report

A tomol being rowed at sunrise
Chumash paddlers navigate tomol across Santa Barbara Channel during annual crossing to Limuw (Santa Cruz Island). Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary released a new condition report for 2016, an update of the first report from 2009. The new report describes how sanctuary resources were doing as of 2016, including status and trends in water quality, habitats, animals and plants, shipwrecks, and more. Overall, the report found that sanctuary habitats and living resources are in good condition. The sanctuary's remote, isolated position at the confluence of two major ocean currents supports remarkable biodiversity and productivity as well as being a special place for historic shipwrecks and other maritime heritage artifacts.

The report also identified pressures on resources and gaps in research and monitoring. Many valuable commercial and recreational activities, such as fishing, shipping, and tourism, occur in the sanctuary. Some human uses if not properly managed or regulated are stressors on sanctuary resources. Climate change and ocean acidification are significant areas of concern, with their impacts observable across various habitats and communities. Additional studies are needed on some of these pressing topics, and the science gaps identified in the report feed into the sanctuary's science needs assessments.

A new ecosystem services section in the 2016 condition report focuses on the role that Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary plays for human communities. The report assesses the sanctuary's role in food supply, recreation, education, science, heritage, and sense of place for local communities. The sanctuary serves as an important recreational and economic resource for residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and beyond.

The northern Channel Islands are an ancestral homeland of the Chumash people of Southern and Central California, whose lineage traces back thousands of years to communities who lived on the islands. The condition report is strengthened by the Chumash Ecosystem Services Assessment section independently authored by members of the Chumash community in coordination with the Chumash community seat representatives of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Together these assessments help to inform NOAA and members of the public participating in the revision of the sanctuary's management plan.

The sanctuary is collaborating with partners to develop products to help dynamically and interactively update the status and trend information used to assess the condition of sanctuary resources. This effort supports the transition from a static, periodic assessment document to an on-going condition assessment tool. Interactive status and trend infographics will make status and trend information readily available to everyone including managers, scientists, educators, and the public.