United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development/Office of Water
Washington, DC 20460
EPA-842-R-10-003
April 2012
http://www.epa.gov/nccr
National  Coastal
Condition Report IV

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SEPA
      This document contains the
   National Coastal Condition Report IV
 National Coastal Condition Report IV
         September 2012

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                                                                                Keterernces pi
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Inside cover photo courtesy of NOAA
Executive Summary photo courtesy of NOAA
Chapter I photo courtesy of Brad Ashbaugh
    ster 2 photo courtesy of Brad Ashbaugh
 .,iapter 3 photo courtesy of Lauren JHolbrook, IAN Netwo
Chapter 4 photo courtesy of  Kevin Rose
Chapter 5 photo courtesy of USG-S
Chapter-6 photo courtesy of Brad Ashbaugh
Chapter 7 photo courtesy of Kelcie Caitlin Photography
Chapter 8 photo courtesy of Tim Rains, NFS
          l
Chapter 9 photo courtesy of NFS
Chapter 10 photo courtesy of USGS
Referernces photo courtesy of Ben  Fertig, IAN Network

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                                                                                                  ,
  Acknowledgments
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  This fourth National Coastal Condition Report (NCCRIV) was prepared by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water and Office of Research and
Development (ORD). The EPA Project Manager for this document was Greg Colianni,
who provided overall project coordination. The principal author for this document was
Virginia Engle, Technical Director of ORD's National Coastal Assessment program. Marysia
Szymkowiak, EPA ORISE Fellow, also contributed to many of the chapters. The EPA was
supported in the development of this document by RTI International (RTI) and Johnson
Controls World Services. The content of this report was contributed by the EPA, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with  many local, state,
and federal agencies. The following team provided written materials, technical information,
reviews, and recommendations throughout the preparation of the document.

EPA
Greg Colianni, Office of Water
Jim Casey, Region 2, Caribbean Environmental Protection Division
Virginia Engle, Office of Research and Development
James Harvey, Office of Research and Development
Linda Harwell, Office of Research and Development
John Kiddon, Office of Research and Development
John Macauley, Office of Research and Development
Walt Nelson, Office of Research and Development
Eric Osantowski, Great Lakes National Program Office
Lisa Smith, Office of Research and Development
Kevin Summers, Office of Research and Development
Marysia Szymkowiak, ORISE Fellow

NOAA
Marie-Christine Aquarone, National Marine Fisheries Service
Len Balthis, National Ocean Service
Cindy Cooksey, National Ocean Service
Jeff Hyland, National Ocean Service
Kenneth Sherman, National Marine Fisheries Service
Rebecca Shuford, National Ocean Service
David Whitall, National Ocean Service

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                    FWS
                    Thomas Dahl, Division of Habitat and Resource Conservation
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                    uses
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                    Pete Bourgeois, U.S. Geological Survey
                    Special appreciation is extended to the following organizations that collaborated with
                    EPA to collect the NCA data presented in this document:
                    Alabama Department of Environmental Management
                    Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
                    Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
                    Delaware Department of Natural Resources
                    Delaware River Basin Commission
                    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
                            Georgia Department of Natural Resources
                    Great Lakes National Program
                    Guam Environmental Protection Agency
                    Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
                    Maine Department of Environmental Protection
                    Maryland Department of Natural Resources
                    Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
                    Mississippi  Department of Environmental Quality
                    National Park Service, American Samoa
                    New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
                    New Jersey  Department of Environmental Protection
                    New York Department of Environmental Conservation
                    North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
                    Puerto Rico Department of Planning and Natural Resources
                    Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
                    Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
                    Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
                    South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
                    Southern California Coastal Water Research Project
                    Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
                    University of Hawaii at Manoa
                    U.S. Virgin Islands  Division of Environmental Protection
                    Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
                    Washington Department of Ecology

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  Contents
Executive Summary
Executive Summary	ES.2
    Summary of the Findings	ES.6
    Describing Coastal Condition	ES.6
    Coastal Monitoring Data	ES.8
    Coastal Ocean Condition	ES.10
    Large Marine  Ecosystem Fisheries 	ES.l 1
    Advisory Data	E. 13
    Limitations of Available Data	ES.l 5
    Comparisons  to Other National Coastal Condition Reports	ES.16
    Future Efforts	ES.20

Chapter 1 Introduction
Introduction	2
    Purpose of This Report	2
    Why Are Coastal Waters Important?	3
        Coastal Waters Are Valuable and Productive Natural Ecosystems	3
        Coastal Populations and Economics	4
    Why Be Concerned about Coastal Condition?	5
    Assessment of Coastal Condition	6
    Coastal Monitoring Data	8
    Limitations of Available Data	10
    Indices Used to Measure Coastal Condition	11
        Water Quality Index	11
        Sediment Quality Index	16
        Benthic Index	20
        Coastal Habitat Index	22
        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	23
        Summary of Rating Cutpoints	25
        How the  Indices Are Summarized	28
    Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data	29
    Coastal Ocean Monitoring Data	30
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                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries Data	31
                           Interactions between Fisheries and Coastal Condition	32
                           Fishery Management and Assessment	33
                       Advisory Data	35
                              1
                           National Listing of Fish Advisories	35
                           Beach Advisories and Closures	38

                    Chapter 2 National Coastal Condition
                    National Coastal Condition	40
                       Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	44
                           Water Quality Index	44
                           Sediment Quality Index	46
                           Benthic Index	46
                           Coastal Habitat Index	47
                           Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	49
                       Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—United States	49
                       Coastal Ocean  Condition—Continental United States	54
                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries	58
                       Advisory Data	63
                           Fish Consumption Advisories	63
                           Beach Advisories and Closures	67
                    Summary	104

                    Chapter 3 Northeast Coast Coastal Condition
                    Northeast Coast Coastal Condition	72
                       Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition  	74
                           Water Quality Index	75
                           Sediment Quality Index	78
                           Benthic Index	80
                           Coastal Habitat Index	81
                           Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	81
                       Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—Northeast Coast (excluding Chesapeake Bay) 82
                           Temporal Change in Ecological Condition	82
                       Coastal Ocean  Condition—Mid-Atlantic Bight	84
                           Water Quality	85
                           Sediment Quality	88
     IV

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        Benthic Condition	89
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        Fish Tissue Contaminants	91
        Coastal Ocean Condition Summary—Mid-Atlantic Bight	91
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    Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME	92
        Invertebrate Fisheries 	93
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        Demersal Fish Fisheries	96
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        Fishery Trends and Summary	96
    Advisory Data	98
        Fish Consumption Advisories	98
        Beach Advisories and Closures	99
Summary	102

Chapter 4 Southeast Coast Coastal Condition
Southeast Coast Coastal Condition	104
    Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	106
        Water Quality Index	106
        Sediment Quality Index	107
        Benthic Index	108
        Coastal Habitat Index	109
        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	109
    Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—Southeast Coast Region	110
        Temporal Change in Ecological Condition	110
    Coastal Ocean Condition—South Atlantic Bight	114
        Water Quality	114
        Sediment Quality	116
        Benthic Condition	118
        Fish Tissue Contaminants	119
        Coastal Ocean Condition Summary—South Atlantic Bight	119
    Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME .... 120
        Southeast Shelf Invertebrate Fisheries	122
        Demersal Fisheries	123
        Coastal Pelagic Fisheries	123
        Fishery Trends and Summary	124
    Advisory Data	125
        Fish Consumption Advisories	125
        Beach Advisories and Closures	126
Summary	128

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                    Chapter 5 Gulf Coast Coastal Condition
                    Gulf Coast Coastal Condition	130
                       Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	132
                           Water Quality Index	132
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                           Sediment Quality Index	136
                           Benthic Index	138
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                           Coastal Habitat Index	138
                           Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	139
                       Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—Gulf Coast Region	139
                           Temporal Change in Ecological Condition	139
                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Gulf of Mexico LME	144
                           Invertebrate Fisheries	145
                           Menhaden Fishery  	147
                           Fishery Trends and Summary	148
                       Advisory Data	150
                           Fish Consumption Advisories	150
                       Beach Advisories and Closures	152
                    Summary	154

                    Chapter 6 West Coast Coastal Condition
                    West Coast Coastal Condition	156
                       Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	158
                           Water Quality Index	159
                           Sediment Quality Index	161
                           Benthic Index	162
                           Coastal Habitat Index	162
                           Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	163
                       Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—West Coast Region	164
                       Coastal Ocean Condition—West Coast	167
                           Water Quality	168
                           Sediment Quality	170
                           Benthic Condition	172
                           Fish Tissue Contaminants	174
                           West Coast Sanctuaries	174
                           Coastal Ocean Condition Summary—West Coast	175
                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—California Current LME	175
                           Invertebrate Fisheries	177
                           Pacific Salmon Fisheries	178
     VI

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        Groundfish Fisheries	179
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        Highly Migratory Fisheries	180
        Fishery Trends and Summary	180
   Advisory Data	181
        Fish Consumption Advisories	181
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        Beach Advisories and Closures	182
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Summary	184

Chapter 7 Great Lakes Coastal Condition
Great Lakes Coastal Condition	186
   Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	187
        Water Quality Index	188
        Sediment Quality Index	189
        Benthic Index	190
        Coastal  Habitat Index	191
        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	192
   Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—Great Lakes Region	193
   Fisheries—Great Lakes	194
        Lake Whitefish and Yellow Perch Fisheries	195
        Lake Trout and Walleye Fisheries	196
        Preyfish Fisheries	197
        Stresses	197
        Fisheries Management	199
   Advisory Data	199
        Fish Consumption Advisories	199
        Beach Advisories and Closures	200
Summary	202

Chapter 8 Coastal Condition of Alaska and Hawaii
Southeastern Alaska	204
   Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	206
        Water Quality Index	208
        Sediment Quality Index	209
        Benthic Index	210
        Coastal  Habitat Index	210
        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	210
   Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Gulf of Alaska and East Bering Sea LMEs. ..211
        Alaska Groundfish Fisheries	212
        Alaska Salmon	214
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                           Alaska Shellfish Fisheries ........................................  215
                            Fishery Trends and Summary .....................................  216
                       Advisory Data [[[  217
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                            Fish Consumption Advisories ....................................  217
                            Beach Advisories and Closures ....................................  217
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                    Hawaii  ........................................  219
                       Coastal Monitoring Data — Status of Coastal Condition ....................  221
                            Water Quality Index ...........................................  221
                            Sediment Quality Index .........................................  222
                            Benthic Index ................................................  223
                            Coastal Habitat Index ..........................................  223
                            Fish Tissue Contaminants Index ..................................  223
                       Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data — Hawaii ............................  224
                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries — Insular Pacific-Hawaiian LME ...........  225
                            Pacific Highly Migratory Pelagic Fisheries ...........................  226
                            Other Important Fisheries .......................................  228
                            Fishery Trends and Summary .....................................  229
                       Advisory Data [[[  230
                            Fish Consumption Advisories ....................................  230
                            Beach Advisories and Closures ....................................  230
                    Summary .......................................  232

                    Chapter 9 Coastal Condition of the Island Territories
                    Coastal Condition of the Island Territories ......................  234
                    American Samoa ...................................  234
                       Coastal Monitoring Data — Status of Coastal Condition ....................  235
                            Water Quality Index ...........................................  235
                            Sediment Quality Index .........................................  236
                            Benthic Index ................................................  236
                            Coastal Habitat Index ..........................................  236
                            Fish Tissue Contaminants Index ..................................  237
                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries — American Samoa ......................  238
                       Advisory Data [[[  238

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Guam	239
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    Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	241
        Water Quality Index	242
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        Sediment Quality Index	243
        Benthic Index	245
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        Coastal Habitat Index	246
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        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	246
    Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Guam	246
    Advisory Data	247
        Fish Consumption Advisories	247
        Beach Advisories  and Closures	247
Northern Mariana Islands	248
    Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	248
    Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Northern Mariana Islands	249
    Advisory Data	249
        Fish Consumption Advisories	249
        Beach Advisories  and Closures	249
Puerto Rico	250
    Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	251
        Water Quality Index	251
        Sediment Quality Index	252
        Benthic Index	253
        Coastal Habitat Index	253
        Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	253
    Trends of Coastal Monitoring Data—Puerto Rico	253
    Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—Caribbean Sea LME	254
        Reef Fisheries	255
        Invertebrate Fisheries	256
    Advisory Data	256
        Fish Consumption Advisories	256
        Beach Advisories  and Closures	256
U.S. Virgin Islands	257
    Coastal Monitoring Data—Status of Coastal Condition	258
        Water Quality Index	258
        Sediment Quality Index	259
        Benthic Index	260
                                                                                                 IX

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                           Coastal Habitat Index	260

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                           Fish Tissue Contaminants Index	260
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                       Large Marine Ecosystem Fisheries—American Samoa	260
                       Advisory Data	261
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                           Fish Consumption Advisories	261
                           Beach Advisories and Closures	261
                   Summary	262

                   Chapter 10 Emerging Issues and Future Directions
                   Emerging Issues and Future Directions	264
                       Ecosystem Services	265
                       Climate Change	265
                           Sea Surface Temperature	266
                           Sea-Level Rise	268
                           Ocean Acidification	270
                           Climate Change Effects Summary	271
                       Invasive Species	273
                       Hypoxia	274
                           Climate Change and Hypoxia	275
                       Emerging Contaminants	276
                       Microbial Pathogens	277
                       Conclusion	278

                   References
                   References	280

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                                                                                              ,
 Acronyms  and Abbreviations
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AOC
AWQC
BEACH
CDF
CEC
CFMC
CMSP Framework

CPUE
DDD
DDE
DDT
DIN
DIP
EEZ
EMAP
EPA
ERL
ERM
ESA
ESRP
FMP
FWS
GCRP
GLFC
GLNPO
GLOBEC
GMP
H'
IOCS
LME
mg/L
MHI
MMP
NCA
NCCA
NCCR
Area of Concern
Ambient Water Quality Criterion
Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure, and Health Program
cumulative distribution function
contaminants of emerging concern
Caribbean Fishery Management Council
Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial
Planning
catch per unit effort
p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane
p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene
p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
dissolved inorganic nitrogen
dissolved inorganic phosphorus
U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
effects range low
effects range medium
Endangered Species Act
Ecosystem Services Research Program
fishery management plan
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Global Change and Research Program
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Great Lakes National Program Office
U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics
Joint Gulf States Comprehensive Monitoring Program
benthic diversity
U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System
Large Marine Ecosystem
milligram per liter
Main Hawaiian Islands
Marsh Monitoring Program
National Coastal Assessment
National Coastal Condition Assessment
National Coastal Condition Report
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NCCRI
NCCRII
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRV
NFS
NLFA
NMFS
NMS
NO3-N
NOAA
NS&T
NWHI
NWI
NY/NJ
OW
PAH
PAR
PCB
PCEIS
PFMC
ppb
PPCP
ppm
QA
S&T
SAV
SOLEC
TOG
TSS
USDA
USGS
WCPFC

WWTP
re/g
National Coastal Condition Report I
National Coastal Condition Report II
National Coastal Condition Report III
National Coastal Condition Report IV
National Coastal Condition Report V
NOAA Fisheries Service
National Listing of Fish Advisories
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Marine Sanctuary
nitrate as nitrogen
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Status  & Trends Program
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
National Wetlands Inventory
New York/New Jersey
Office of Water
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
photosynthetically active radiation
polychlorinated  biphenyl
Pacific Coast Ecosystem Information System
Pacific Fishery Management Council
parts per billion
pharmaceuticals and personal care products
parts per million
quality assurance
Status and Trends (NWI)
submerged aquatic vegetation
State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference
total organic carbon
total suspended  solids
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Geological Survey
Convention on the Conservation and Management of
Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific
wastewater treatment plant
microgram per gram
microgram per liter
     XII

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                      Executive Summary

           ~
               Coastal waters in the United States consist of
            a variety of habitats, including estuaries, bays,
            sounds, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, intertidal
            zones, mangrove and kelp forests, seagrass
            meadows, and coastal ocean and upwelling areas
            (i.e., deep water rising to surface). These coastal
            areas encompass a wide diversity of ecosystems that
            result from the tidal exchanges that occur between
            freshwater rivers and saline  ocean waters within
            coastal estuaries. Coastal habitats provide spawning
            grounds, nursery areas, shelter, and food sources
            critical for the survival of finfish, shellfish, birds,
            and other wildlife populations that contribute
            substantially to the economic health of our nation.
               Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act requires
            that the states report to the U.S. Environmental
            Protection Agency (EPA), and that the EPA report
            to Congress on the condition of the nation's waters,
            including coastal waters. As part of this process,
            coastal states provide valuable information about
            the condition of their coastal resources to the EPA;
            however, because the individual states use a variety
            of approaches for data collection and evaluation,
            it has been difficult to compare this information
            among states or on a national basis.
               To better address questions about national
            coastal condition, the EPA, the National Oceanic
            and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and
            the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed
            to participate in a multi-agency effort to assess the
            condition of the nation's coastal resources. The
            agencies chose to assess condition using nationally
            consistent monitoring surveys to minimize the
            problems created by compiling data collected
            using multiple approaches.  The results of these
            assessments are compiled periodically into a
            National Coastal Condition  Report (NCCR).
            This series of reports  contains one of the most
            comprehensive ecological assessments of the
            condition of our nation's coastal bays and estuaries.
            The assessment presented in this, the fourth NCCR
            (NCCR IV), is based  on data from more than
            3,100  such coastal sites.
   The first NCCR (NCCR I), published in 2001,
reported that the nation's coastal resources were in
fair to poor condition. The NCCR I used available
data collected from 1990 to 1996 to characterize
about 70% of the nation's conterminous coastal
waters. Agencies contributing these data included
the EPA, NOAA,  FWS, and U.S. Department of
Agriculture. The second NCCR (NCCR II) was
based on available data from  1997 to 2000. The
NCCR II data were representative of 100%  of the
coastal waters of the conterminous 48 states and
Puerto Rico and showed that the nation's coastal
waters were slightly improved and  rated in fair
condition overall.  Agencies that contributed data
to the NCCR II included the EPA, NOAA,  FWS,
and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Several
state, regional, and local organizations also provided
information on the condition of the nation's coasts.
Atlantic puffins landing on rock at Maine Coastal Islands
National Wildlife Refuge Complex (courtesy of U.S.
FWS).
    ES.2

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   The third NCCR (NCCR III) assessed the
condition of the nation's estuaries and coastal
embayments, including the coastal waters of Hawaii
and Southcentral Alaska, based primarily on data
collected by the EPA's National Coastal Assessment
(NCA) program in 2001  and 2002. The NCA,
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
and National Ocean Service (NOS), FWS's
National Wetlands Inventory (NWI),  and USGS
contributed most of the information presented in
the NCCR III. The report showed that the overall
condition score (2.8) for the nation's coastal waters
had improved since 1990, but that overall condition
continued to be rated fair. If the national score were
recalculated without Alaska and Hawaii, however,
the overall condition score would be 2.3 (rated fair
to poor; no change from the overall condition score
in NCCR II). The NCCR III also presented analysis
of temporal changes in coastal condition from  1990
to 2002 for the nation and by region.
   This fourth NCCR (NCCR IV) assesses the
condition of the nation's estuaries and coastal
embayments, including the coastal waters of the
conterminous United States, Southeastern Alaska,
Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and
the U.S. Virgin Islands. This assessment is based
primarily on the EPA's NCA data collected between
2003 and 2006. The NCA, the NOAA's NMFS
and NOS, and the FWS's NWI contributed most
of the information presented in this current report.
The NCCR IV shows an overall condition score
of 3-0 for  the nation's coastal waters; although this
score has improved substantially since 1990, the
overall condition of the nation's coastal resources
continues to be rated fair. If the national score were
recalculated without Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
territories, however, the overall condition score
would be 2.5 (rated fair; only a slight improvement
from the overall condition score of 2.3 in NCCR
III). This report also  presents analysis of temporal
changes in coastal condition from 1990  to 2006,
with regional chapters focusing on changes mainly
from 2000 to 2006.
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           Uses of the National Coastal Condition Report (NCCR) Series
           The NCCR series is designed to help us understand the questions,"What is the condition of
           the nation's coastal waters? Is that condition getting better or worse? How do different regions
           compare?" These reports, however, cannot represent all individual coastal and estuarine systems of
           the United States; therefore, their information is based on  a limited number of ecological indices and
           component indicators for which nationally consistent data sets are available to support estimates
           of ecological condition. The assessments provided, and more importantly, the underlying data used
           to develop the assessments, can establish a picture of historical coastal conditions at state, regional,
           or national scales. For example, NCA data have been used to provide insight into the conditions in
           the estuaries of Louisiana and Mississippi prior to Hurricane Katrina. These data may also be used to
           help us understand conditions in Gulf of Mexico estuaries  prior to the Deepwater Horizon incident
           and the subsequent BP Oil Spill. However, the methodology and data used in this report were not
           designed to assess impacts directly related to the BP Oil Spill. This NCCR IV does not include, for
           example, indicators such as water chemistry, oil-related contaminants (i.e., oil, grease, alkylated PAHs,
           or volatile organic compounds), dispersant compounds, or other indicators of exposure that might
           be required in an environmental assessment. Any comparisons to environmental  data collected to
           assess the impact of the BP Oil Spill on Gulf of Mexico estuaries should be limited to the indicators
           and methods presented in this report and  to broad generalizations about coastal condition at state,
           regional, or national scales.
                                                                                                            ES.3

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           With each NCCR, the collaborating agencies
         strive to provide a more comprehensive picture of
         the nation's coastal resources and to communicate
         these findings to the informed public, coastal
         managers, scientists, members of Congress, and
         other elected officials. This NCCR IV builds
         on the foundation provided by the NCCR I,
         NCCR II, and NCCR III. In addition to the areas
         previously assessed in the NCCR III, the NCCR
         IV provides condition data for Southeastern Alaska,
         American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin
         Islands (the NCA has not assessed the Pacific island
         Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
         It should be noted that the Great Lakes data
         provided in this report are  not directly comparable
         with the data provided for other regions; however,
         general comparisons of the Great Lakes condition
         ratings are provided. Although a freshwater
         ecosystem, the Great Lakes are included as a coastal
         resource because Congress has treated the Great
         Lakes states as coastal states in federal coastal
         legislation.
         The NCCR IV presents the results of the NCA survey
         conducted in American Samoa in 2004 (courtesy of
         NPS).
   The NCCR IV presents four main types of data:
(1) coastal monitoring data, (2) national coastal
ocean condition data, (3) offshore fisheries data,
and (4) advisory and closure data. The ratings of
coastal condition in this report are based primarily
on coastal monitoring data because these are the
most comprehensive and nationally consistent data
available related to coastal condition. One source of
coastal monitoring data is the EPA's NCA program,
which provides information on the condition of
coastal waters for all regions of the United States.
The NCA data are stored in the Environmental
Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP)
NCA Database, available online at http://www.epa.
gov/emap/nca/html/data/index.html. The NCCR
IV uses NCA and other data to evaluate five indices
of coastal condition—water quality index, sediment
quality index, benthic index, coastal habitat index,
and fish tissue contaminants index—in each region
of the United States (Northeast Coast, Southeast
Coast,  Gulf Coast, West Coast, Great Lakes,
Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the
U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, and
the U.S. Virgin Islands). The resulting ratings for
each index are then used to calculate the overall
condition ratings for each region, as well as the
index and overall condition ratings for the nation.
The NCCR IV assessment applies to 30 coastal
states (22 ocean states, 6 Great Lakes states, and
2 ocean/Great Lakes states), the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, and the  U.S. island territories
(American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin
Islands) (Figure ES-1). Trends  in the NCA data are
discussed at the end of this Executive Summary.
   In addition to rating  coastal condition based on
coastal monitoring data, the NCCR IV summarizes
available information related to coastal condition
associated with various coastal ocean shelf regions,
offshore fisheries, state-issued fish consumption
advisories in coastal waters, and beach advisories
and closures. Although not directly comparable,
this information, together with descriptions of
individual monitoring programs, helps paint a
picture of the overall condition of the nation's
coastal resources.
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     Overall Condition
    U.S. Coastal Waters
    Overall Condition
      Southeastern
          Alaska
                                        Overall Condition
                                           West Coast
                              Overall Condition
                                 Great Lakes
Good    Fair    Poo
    Good     FJir      Poor
        Ecological Health
         Water Quality Index

         Sediment Quality Index

         Benthic Index
              Overall Condition
                 Gulf Coast
                                                               Good   Fair     Poo
         Coastal Habitat Index
         Fish Tissue
         Contaminants Index
            Fair     Poor
             Surveys completed, but no index
             data available until the next report.
                        Q
                                             Overall Condition
                                                   Hawaii
     Overall Condition
           Guam
     Good    Fair    Poor
                 * Surveys completed, but an
                  index rating was unavailable.
                                j-^
                                \   "^
                  ^ Surveys completed, but an
                   index rating was unavailable.
                 Overall Condition
                    Puerto Rico
                 ^ Surveys completed, but an
                  index rating was unavailable.
                                                           Overall Condition
                                                            Northeast Coast
                                                          Overall Condition
                                                           Southeast Coast
     Overall
    Condition
American Samoa
            * Surveys completed, but an
             index rating was unavailable.
      Overall
    Condition
U.S.Virgin Islands
                                                                                         ood    Fair    Poor
            * Surveys completed, but an
             index rating was unavailable.
Figure ES-I.  Overall national and  regional coastal condition  based on data collected primarily between 2003 and 2006
(U.S. EPA/NCA).
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Summary of the Findings
   This report is based on the large amount of
monitoring data collected primarily between 2003
and 2006 on the condition of the marine coastal
and Great Lakes resources of the United States.
Ecological assessment of these data shows that
the nation's coastal waters are rated fair for overall
condition. With respect to the overall condition
of coastal waters of the geographic regions assessed
in this report, the Southeastern Alaska, American
Samoa, and Guam regions are rated good; the West
Coast and U.S. Virgin Islands regions are rated fair
to good;  the Northeast Coast, Southeast Coast,
Gulf Coast, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico regions  are
rated fair; and the Great Lakes region is rated  fair to
poor.
   The major findings of the 2003—2006 study
period are as follows:
  • The overall condition of the nation's coastal
    waters is rated fair, with an overall condition
    score of 3-0 (including Alaska, Hawaii, and
    the island territories; the overall condition
    score would be 2.5 [rated fair] if these areas
    were excluded). The overall condition score
    and rating is based on the five indices of
    ecological condition assessed in this report:
    water quality index, sediment quality index,
    benthic index, coastal habitat index, and fish
    tissue contaminants index (Tables ES-1 and
    ES-2). This report also assesses component
    indicators for the water quality index (i.e.,
    dissolved inorganic nitrogen [DIN], dissolved
    inorganic phosphorus [DIP], chlorophyll a,
    water clarity, and dissolved oxygen) and the
    sediment quality index (i.e., sediment toxicity,
    sediment contaminants, and sediment total
    organic carbon [TOC]).
  • When Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
    territories are included in the national scores,
    improvements in the scores are shown for the
    water quality, coastal habitat, benthic, and fish
    tissue contaminants indices. However, when
    the national scores were recalculated without
    Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories,
    the indices show no change or a slight
    improvement over time.
  • The water quality index for the nation's coastal
    waters is rated fair, with 55% of the nation's
    coastal area rated good for water quality
    condition, 36% rated fair, and 6% rated poor.
  • The coastal habitat, sediment quality, and
    benthic indices show the poorest conditions
    throughout the coastal United States, whereas
    dissolved oxygen, DIN, and sediment TOC are
    the component indicators most often rated in
    good condition throughout the nation.
  • Thirteen percent of the NCA stations where
    fish were caught were rated poor for the fish
    tissue contaminants  index, based on the EPA
    advisory guidance values used to assess the fish
    tissue contaminants  index for this report.

Describing Coastal Condition
   The following four types of data are presented in
this report:
  • Coastal Monitoring Data—Coastal
    monitoring data are  obtained from programs
    such as the  EPA's NCA and FWS's NWI, as
    well as Great Lakes information from the State
    of the Great Lakes 2009- These data are used
    to rate indices and component indicators of
    coastal condition for the geographic regions
    assessed in this report and for the  nation. These
    index scores are then used to calculate overall
    condition scores and ratings for the regions
    and the nation. The  rating cutpoints for each
    index and component indicator in each region
    are determined based on existing criteria,
    guidelines, interviews with EPA decision
    makers and other resource experts, and/or the
    interpretation of scientific literature.
  • Coastal Ocean Condition Data—These
    data are obtained from a series of offshore
    studies conducted to assess the status of
    ecological condition and potential stressor
    impacts throughout  various coastal ocean
    (shelf) regions of the United States. For this
    report, data were available for three of the
    survey areas: the western U.S. continental shelf
    ES.6

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   (surveyed June 2003), the South Atlantic Bight
   (surveyed April 2004), and the Mid-Atlantic
   Bight (surveyed May 2006). Because some of
   these protocols and indicators are consistent
   with those used in the EMAP/NCA estuarine
   surveys, they provide a basis for making
   comparisons between conditions in coastal
   ocean waters and those observed in adjacent
   estuaries.
   Offshore Fisheries Data—These data are
   obtained from programs such as NOAA's
   Marine Monitoring and Assessment Program
   and Southeast Area Monitoring and
   Assessment Program. These data are used in
   this report to assess the condition of coastal
   fisheries in large marine ecosystems (LMEs).
• Advisory Data—These data are provided to the
  EPA by states or other regulatory agencies and
  compiled in nationally maintained databases.
  The fish consumption advisory data provide
  information about chemical contaminants in
  locally caught fish, and beach advisory data
  provide information about warnings and beach
  closures associated with the presence of elevated
  levels of human pathogens at swimming
  beaches. Warnings and closures affect public
  perception of coastal condition as it relates to
  public health. The agencies  contributing these
  data use different methodologies and criteria
  for assessment; therefore, the data cannot be
  used to make broad-based comparisons among
  the different  coastal areas.
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Table ES-1.  Rating Scores3 by Index and Region


Water Quality
Region Index
Northeast Coast
Southeast Coast
Gulf Coast
Great Lakes
West Coast
Southeastern Alaskad
Hawaiid
American Samoad
Guamd
Puerto Ricod
U.S. Virgin lslandsd
United States6
Conterminous
United Statesf
3
3
3b
3
5
5
5
5
5
4
5
3.6

3.2
Sediment
Quality Benthic Coastal
Index Index Habitat Index
3 1 4
253
1 2 1
1 2 2
3 5 1
5 — c 5
	 C 	 C
C C C
5 4
1 3
2 5 — c
2.6 2.4 2.6

1.7
Fish Tissue
Contaminants
Index
2
5
5
3
5
5
— c
5
5
— c
— c
4.0



Overall
Condition
2.6
3.6
2.4
2.2
3.8
5.0
3.0
5.0
4.8
2.7
4.0
3.0

2.5
a Rating scores are based on a 5-point system, where a score of less than 2.0 is rated poor; 2.0 to less than 2.4 is rated fair to
  poor; 2.4 to less than 3.7 is rated fair; 3.7 to 4.0 is rated good to fair; and greater than 4.0 is rated good.
bThis rating score does not include the impact of the hypoxic zone in offshore Gulf Coast waters.
cThis index was not assessed for this region.
d Overall condition scores for Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the island territories were based on fewer than the
  five NCA indices.
eThe U.S. score is based on an areally weighted mean of regional scores.
f Scores excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
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Table ES-2. Percent Area in Poor Condition3 by Index (except Coastal Habitat Index) and Region
(except Great Lakes)
                                                                                          Fish Tissue
                             Water Quality     Sediment Quality        Benthic           Contaminants
                                 lndexb              Index0             Index                lndexd
Northeast Coast
Southeast Coast
Gulf Coast
West Coast
Southeastern Alaska
Hawaii
American Samoa
Guam
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands
United States
9
13
I0e
2
0
0
0
7
10
0
6
12
13
19
10
0
18
—
0
20
17
10
31
3
20
7
—
—
—
10
16
6
19
20
8
9
9
0
—
4
0
—
—
13
               aThe percent area in poor condition is the percentage of total surface area of estuaries and coastal embayments in the region or
                the nation  (proportional area information not available for the Great Lakes or the coastal habitat index).
               bThe water quality index is based on measurements of five component indicators: DIN, DIR chlorophyll a, water clarity and
                dissolved oxygen.
               cThe sediment quality index is based on measurements of three component indicators: sediment toxicity sediment contaminants,
                and sedimentTOC.
               dThe fish tissue contaminants index is presented as the percentage of monitoring stations where fish were caught and is based on
                analyses of whole-fish and fillet samples.
               eThe area in poor condition does not include the hypoxic zone in offshore Gulf Coast waters.
              Coastal  Monitoring Data
                 The overall condition of the nation's coastal
              waters is rated fair (Figure ES-2), based on ratings
              for the five indices of coastal condition assessed for
              this report: water quality index, sediment quality
              index, benthic index, coastal habitat index, and fish
              tissue contaminants index. The national indices
              were assigned a good, fair, or poor rating based
              on a weighted average of the index scores for each
              coastal region of the United States, and an average
              of the national index scores was used to determine
              an overall condition score and rating for  the nation.
              Supplemental information on the water and
              sediment quality component indicators (e.g., DIN,
              DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, dissolved oxygen,
              sediment toxicity, sediment contaminants, and
              sediment TOC), when available, is also presented
              throughout this report.
                                                                          Overall Condition
                                                                        U.S. Coastal Waters (3.0)
                                                                         Water Quality Index (3.6)

                                                                         Sediment Quality Index (2.6)

                                                                         Benthic Index (2.4)

                                                                         Coastal Habitat Index (2.6)
                                                                         Fish Tissue Contaminants
                                                                         Index (4.0)
                                                       Figure ES-2. The overall condition of U.S. coastal
                                                       waters is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     ES.8

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  A summary of each national index is presented
below.
  •  Water Quality Index—The water quality
    index for the nation's coastal waters is rated
    fair. The percent of coastal area rated poor for
    water quality ranged from 0% in Southeastern
    Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the U.S.
    Virgin Islands to 13% in the Southeast Coast
    region. Most water quality problems in U.S.
    coastal waters are associated with degraded
    water clarity or increased concentrations of
    DIP or chlorophyll a. Low dissolved oxygen
    concentrations occur in less than 5% of the
    U.S. coastal area.
  •  Sediment Quality Index—The sediment
    quality index for the nation's coastal waters is
    rated fair. The sediment quality index is rated
    poor for the Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, Hawaii,
    and Puerto Rico regions; fair to poor for
    the Southeast Coast and U.S. Virgin Islands
    regions; fair for the Northeast Coast and West
    Coast regions;  and good for Southeastern
    Alaska and Guam regions. Many areas of
    the United States have significant sediment
    degradation, including elevated concentrations
    of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
    polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides,
    and metals. Puerto Rico, the Gulf Cost
    region, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    have the largest percentages of coastal area
    with elevated contaminant concentrations in
    sediments. The largest percentages of coastal
    area exhibiting sediment toxicity were in the
    Northeast Coast, Southeast Coast, Gulf Coast,
    West Coast, and U.S. Virgin Islands regions.
    High concentrations of sediment TOC (often
    associated with the deposition of human,
    animal, and plant wastes) were observed in
    12%, 11%, and 10%, respectively, of the
    coastal waters of Hawaii, Southeastern Alaska,
    and Puerto Rico waters.
Benthic Index—The benthic index for the
nation's coastal waters is rated fair. The greatest
area exhibiting poor benthic condition is
observed in the Northeast Coast region, largely
due to degraded sediment quality resulting
from high sediment toxicity; however, in some
cases, poor benthic condition is associated
with poor water quality conditions, such as
low dissolved oxygen and elevated nutrient
concentrations. The Southeast Coast, West
Coast, and U.S. Virgin Island coastal regions
are rated good for benthic condition. Benthic
index data were unavailable for Southeastern
Alaska, Hawaii, and American Samoa.
Coastal Habitat Index—The coastal habitat
index for the nation's coastal waters is rated
fair. Coastal wetland losses from 1780 to 2000
were greater than or equal to 1% per decade
in each region. The index is rated poor for the
coastal wetland areas of the Gulf Coast  and
West Coast regions. Coastal habitat data were
unavailable for the coastal areas  of Hawaii,
American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands. It should be noted  that the
coastal habitat scores and ratings for the NCCR
IV are similar to those presented in the  NCCR
III due to a lack of available new data in the
proper format for this analysis.
Fish Tissue Contaminants Index—The fish
tissue contaminants index for the nation's
coastal waters is rated good to fair, with only
13% of the stations where fish were caught
rated poor for this index. The fish tissue
contaminants index is rated good for the
Southeast Coast, Gulf Coast, and West  Coast
regions, as well as for Southeastern  Alaska,
American Samoa, and Guam; fair for the Great
Lakes region; and fair to poor for the Northeast
Coast region. Fish tissue contaminants data
were unavailable for the coastal waters of
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin
Islands.
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Coastal Ocean Condition
   Since 2003, a series of offshore studies have
been conducted to assess the status of ecological
condition and potential stressor impacts throughout
various coastal ocean (shelf) regions of the United
States (Figure ES-3). These survey areas cover
four of the U.S. LMEs: the California Current,
Northeastern U.S. Continental Shelf, Southeastern
U.S. Continental Shelf, and Gulf of Mexico. They
also coincide with various regional planning areas
of the Interim Framework for Effective Coastal
and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP  Interim
Handbook), developed in 2009 by the Interagency
Ocean Policy Task Force. Sampling sites are also
included within marine protected areas, such as
NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries. Data from
these studies were available for inclusion in the
present NCCR for three of the five survey areas:
the western U.S. continental shelf (surveyed June
2003), South Atlantic Bight (surveyed March-April
2004), and Mid-Atlantic Bight (surveyed May
2006).
   The studies have applied EMAP/NCA
methodologies and indicators, including
probabilistic sampling designs and multiple
measures of water quality, sediment quality, benthic
condition, and fish tissue contamination. Although
ratings of good, fair, and poor for many of these
indices and indicators could not be assigned to
the study areas because of the lack of appropriate
cutpoints for coastal ocean waters, the results of
the various measurements nonetheless provide
valuable information on the status and patterns
of key ecological characteristics, as well as a
quantitative baseline for evaluating future changes
due to natural or human-induced disturbances.
                Coastal Ocean Survey
                Areas
                    | Northeast
                      Mid-Atlantic
                      South Atlantic
                      Gulf of Mexico
                      West Coast
             Figure ES-3. Coastal ocean survey areas.
    ES.IO

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Because the protocols and indicators are consistent
with those used in previous EMAP/NCA estuarine
surveys, these studies also provide a basis for
making comparisons between conditions in coastal
ocean waters and those observed in adjacent
estuaries, thus providing a more holistic account
of ecological conditions and processes throughout
the inshore and offshore resources of the respective
regions. In addition, for some indicators (e.g.,
concentrations of chemical contaminants andTOC
in sediments, dissolved oxygen levels in the water
column, human health-risk guidelines for chemical
contaminants in fish), cutpoints established
previously for estuarine habitats can be used as
reasonable surrogate benchmarks for evaluating
the biological significance of corresponding coastal
ocean levels.
   In general, the  coastal ocean waters were much
less impacted by human influence than neighboring
estuaries. With some exceptions, conditions for
most indices and indicators were above estuarine
cutpoints for good ratings throughout the majority
of the areas surveyed (Figure ES-4).

Large  Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries
   The NMFS fisheries data used in this report
were categorized by  LMEs. LMEs are defined
as large areas of ocean characterized by distinct
bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophic
relationships. LMEs extend from river basins and
estuaries to seaward  boundaries of the continental
shelf and outer margin of major current systems.
Within these waters, ocean pollution, fishery
overexploitation, and coastal habitat alteration are
most likely to occur.
   Globally, 64 LMEs have been defined,
accounting for about 80% of global fisheries
production. Eleven  LMEs are found in the
waters bordering U.S. states and island territories
around the world  (Figure ES-5). The climates
of these LMEs vary  from arctic to tropical, and
their productivities range from low to high,
based on global estimates of primary production
(phytoplankton). Eight of these LMEs  also adjoin
  A. Northeast
         Dissolved Oxygen |
      Sediment Contaminants fj
  Total Organic Carbon (TOC) |
         Benthic Condition Q
     Fish Tissue Contaminants •
  B. Southeast
         Dissolved Oxygen Q
      Sediment Contaminants Q
  Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Q
         Benthic Condition Q
     Fish Tissue Contaminants •
                           20
                                  40
                                        60
                     0
  C.West Coast
         Dissolved Oxygen |   |
      Sediment Contaminants |
  Total Organic Carbon (TOC) |
         Benthic Condition |
     Fish Tissue Contaminants ^M
                           20
                                  40
                                        60
                     0
 Good   Fair
              Poor
Figure ES-4. Percentage of coastal ocean area achieving
each ranking for all indices and component indicators—
Northeast (A), Southeast (B), and West Coast (C)
regions.
Note: Coastal ocean results were compared to estuarine
cutpoints; refer to corresponding chapters for index and
indicator cutpoints. There were no benthic indices for
region-wide applications in coastal ocean waters; thus, the
evaluation of benthic condition was based on co-occurrences
of reduced values of key benthic attributes and evidence of
poor sediment or water quality Tissue assessments are based
on percent of stations where fish were caught.
international borders of other countries. As a
result, information about fishery stocks in some
of the LMEs (i.e., the Caribbean Sea, Chukchi
Sea, West Bering Sea, and Beaufort Sea LMEs) is
incomplete. Organizing the NMFS fisheries data by
LME allows readers to more easily consider fishery
and coastal condition data together. These data are
more comparable using LMEs for several reasons.
Geographically, LMEs contain both the coastal
waters assessed by the NCA program and the U.S.
Exclusive Economic Zone waters that contain the
fisheries assessed by the NMFS. In addition, the
borders of the LMEs coincide roughly with the
borders of the NCA regions.

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                           20     40     60     80     100
                               Percent Coastal Area
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                     \ Insular Pacific-
                          Hawaiian
                                                                                                   Northeast U.S.
                                                                                                  Continental Shelf
\  *\  Hawai
 V  a
                                                                     Conterminous
                                                                      United States
                 California
                  Current'
                                                                                                 Southeast U.S.
                                                                                                Continental Shelf
                                                                                                   Puerto  U.S.Virgin
                                                                                                    Rico     Islands
                                                                               Gulf of
                                                                               Mexico
   Relevant Large Marine Ecosystems
   Associated U.S. land masses
                                                                                          Caribbean
                                                                                             Sea
              Figure ES-5. U.S. states and island territories are bordered by I I  LMEs.
                Fisheries in the United States are critically
             important, providing socioeconomic benefits that
             include food, direct and indirect employment, and
             recreational opportunities. The United States is
             one of the most productive fishing nations in the
             world. From 2003 to 2006, commercial fisheries
             contributed over $14 billion in ex-vessel revenues to
             the nation's economy. The top five highest-grossing
             commercial fisheries in value included American
             lobster ($1.4 billion), sea scallops  ($1.3 billion),
             walleye pollock ($1.1 billion), white shrimp ($770
             million), and Pacific halibut ($720 million). Top
             recreational species included striped bass, croaker,
             spot, and sea trout.
                In 2007, the U.S. walleye pollock fishery had
             landings of nearly 1.6 million metric tons. Since
             the late 1980s, catches within this fishery have
                                             consistently been over 1 million metric tons, and
                                             despite annual fluctuations, have increased by
                                             over 500,000 metric tons since the late 1990s.
                                             Amongst the other top fisheries, the largest increase
                                             in landings occurred in the white shrimp fishery.
                                             Catches of white shrimp increased from about
                                             15,000 metric tons in the mid-1960s to nearly
                                             70,000 metric tons in 2006. The American lobster
                                             fishery has also increased steadily, from 10,000
                                             metric tons in 1950 to just over 40,000 metric tons
                                             in 2006. During this  same period, catches in the sea
                                             scallop fishery increased from  10,000 metric tons to
                                             25,000 metric tons, resurging over the past several
                                             years following decreases in  the 1990s. Landings in
                                             the Pacific halibut fishery underwent a long decrease
                                             from the early 1960s  to 1980, but increased again
                                             with recent landings over 30,000 metric tons.
    ES.I2

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                                                                                                                 >-
   The NMFS provides regular assessments of
the status offish stocks to determine if a stock
is overfished. The status of 33% of U.S. fishery
stocks is unknown or has not been defined. Of
the 144 known stock groups, 28% are overfished,
< 1% are approaching overfished status,  10% are
in the process of rebuilding, and 60%  are not
overfished. The majority of overfished  stocks occur
among the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
demersal (bottom-dwelling) species. Many of the
stocks (37%) that have a known status and have
experienced decreases in landings are below the
biomass level that would support the maximum
sustainable yield because their current  population
sizes can no longer support past catch  levels.
   A majority of the stocks classified as overfished
are currently under rebuilding plans and have
not yet been rebuilt to levels above the overfished
threshold. Although rebuilding of overfished stocks
can take many years—depending on the stock's
natural capacity to grow, its level of depletion, and
the specific management measures in place—the
process of rebuilding overfished stocks is underway.
Overall, the U.S. share of fishery resources has
held fairly steady in recent years. The largest
increases in commercial landings (tonnage)
occurred for Alaskan LME groundfish (bottom-
dwelling) fisheries and Pacific Coast and Alaska
pelagic (water-column dwelling) fisheries. The
largest percentage increases occurred for Atlantic
anadromous (migratory) fisheries. In contrast, large
decreases in landings (tonnage) occurred for the
Southeast U.S Continental Shelf LME menhaden
fisheries and Pacific highly migratory pelagic
fisheries. Large percentage decreases also were
experienced by Western Pacific invertebrates and in
shellfish from the Alaskan LMEs.
Advisory Data
   For this NCCRIV, advisory data include
information on two key areas of public health
concern: fish consumption advisories associated
with chemically contaminated fish, and beach
advisories and closures issued by individual
states when the presence of pathogens in water
exceeds levels considered potentially injurious to
human health. States report information on fish
and shellfish advisories issued for locally caught
fish harvested from state jurisdictional waters by
recreational or subsistence fishers. These data are
reported annually to the EPA's National Listing
of Fish Advisories (NLFA) database. States,
counties, and other local agencies also report
beach advisories and closures to the Beaches
Environmental Assessment, Closure, and Health
(BEACH) PRAWN database (i.e., PRogram
tracking, beach Advisories, Water quality Standards,
and Nutrients). These data are useful for evaluating
the success of state water quality improvement
efforts and assessing water quality-related issues
of public health concern; however, it should be
emphasized that each state monitors and assesses
these parameters differently, so it is difficult to make
generalized statements about the condition of the
nation's coasts based on these data alone. Data from
the EPA's NLFA database are presented for calendar
year  2006, and data from the BEACH PRAWN
database are presented for calendar year 2007-
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Beaches waters are monitored for pathogens to protect
public health (courtesy of U.S. EPA).
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   According to the EPA's NLFA data for 2006,
the number of coastal and estuarine waters under
fish consumption advisories represents an estimated
75% of the coastal waters of the conterminous
United States (Figure ES-6). All of the Great
Lakes and their associated connecting waters
are currently under at least one fish advisory,
and 29 fish advisories cover 100% of the Great
Lakes shoreline miles. Although advisories in
U.S. estuarine and shoreline waters have been
issued for a total of 21 chemical contaminants,
most of the advisories issued resulted from
four primary chemical contaminants: PCBs;
mercury; p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
(DDT) and its degradation products (p,p'-
dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane [DDD] and p,p'-
dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [DDE]); and
dioxins/furans. These four chemical contaminants
were responsible, at least in part, for 79% of all
fish consumption advisories in effect for estuarine
and coastal marine waters in 2006. These data are
provided by states or other regulatory agencies  and
are compiled in a nationally maintained database.
The state agencies contributing these data may
use different assessment methods and criteria for
assessing the need to issue an advisory; therefore,
the data cannot be used to make broad-based
comparisons among the different coastal areas.
              Northern
               Mariana
               Islands
                         Guam
                                   America Samoa
                                                        Hawaii
                                                         Number of Consumption
                                                         Advisories per USGS
                                                         Cataloging Unit in 2006
                                                          CH  I
                                                          •  2-4
                                                          CH  5-9
                                                          •  10+
                                                          ^™  Statewide Coastline and
                                                                                                       Puerto Rico
                                                                            Estuarine Advisory (includes Connecticut)
              Figure ES-6. The number of fish consumption advisories active in 2006 for U.S. coastal waters.
    ES.I4

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   For the 2007 swimming season, EPA compiled
information on 6,237 beaches monitored
nationwide (both inland and coastal) through
the use of a survey. The survey respondents were
state and local government agencies from coastal
counties, cities, or towns bordering the Atlantic
Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, and the
Great Lakes and included agencies in Hawaii,
Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam,
and American Samoa. These respondents report
the results of their local monitoring programs;
therefore, the monitoring methods and closure
criteria may vary among respondents. The EPA's
review of coastal beaches (i.e., U.S. coastal areas,
estuaries, the Great Lakes,  and the coastal areas of
Hawaii and  the U.S. territories) showed that, of
the 6,237 beaches reported in the survey responses,
only 3,647 beaches (58%)  were monitored. Of the
coastal beaches monitored  and reported, 1,170 (or
32%) had an advisory or closing in effect at least
once during the 2007 swimming season (Table
ES-3). Although beach advisories or closings were
issued for a number of different reasons (e.g.,
elevated bacterial  levels in the water, preemptive
reasons associated with rainfall events or sewage
spills), storm-related runoff was the single most
common reason affecting 35% of the monitored
beaches. About 50% of beach notifications lasted
2 days or less, about 42% lasted 3 to 7 days, 7%
lasted more than 8 days, and only 1% lasted more
than 30 days.
Limitations  of Available Data
   The NCCRIV focuses on coastal regions for
which nationally consistent and comparable data
are available. Such data are currently available for
the conterminous 48 states, Southeastern Alaska,
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the island territories
of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin
Islands. Nearly 75% by area of all the coastal
waters, including the bays, sounds, and estuaries
in the United States, is located in Alaska, and no
national report on coastal condition can be truly
complete without information on the condition
of the living resources and use attainment of these
waters. For this report, coastal monitoring data
were only available for the southeastern region of
Alaska; for the NCCR III, the southcentral Alaskan
region was assessed.
   For the first time, coastal monitoring
information also is available for the U.S. Virgin
Islands and the Pacific island territories (i.e.,  Guam
and American Samoa) to support estimates of
condition based on  the indices used in this report.
Although these latter systems make up only a small
portion of the nation's coastal waters, they represent
a set of ecological subsystems (such as coral reefs
and tropical bays) that are not located anywhere else
in the United States, with the exception of southern
Florida, the  Flower  Gardens off the Louisiana/Texas
coast, and Puerto Rico.
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Table ES-3. Beach Notification Actions, National, 2004-2008a
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
5,208
3,574
942
26%

2005
6,064
4,025
1,109
28%

2006
6,599
3,771
1,201
32%

2007
6,237
3,647
1,170
32%

2008
6,684
3,740
1,210
32%

 a This table includes data from Puerto Rico and Hawaii in 2004 and from American Samoa, Guam, Alaska, and the U.S.Virgin
   Islands beginning in 2005.
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   The NCCR IV makes the best use of available
data to characterize and assess the condition of
the nation's coastal resources. The report, however,
does not yet represent all individual coastal and
estuarine systems of the United States or all of the
appropriate spatial scales (e.g., national, regional,
local) necessary to assess coastal condition. This
assessment is based on a limited number of
ecological indices and component indicators for
which consistent data sets are available to support
estimates of ecological condition on regional
and national scales. Because this assessment is
a "snapshot" of the environment at the time
the measurements were collected, some of the
uncertainly associated with the measurements
is difficult to quantify. Weather impacts such as
droughts,  floods, and hurricanes can affect results
for weeks to months, in addition to normal
sampling variability. Through a multi-agency and
multi-state effort over the continuing decade, a
truly consistent, comprehensive, and integrated
national coastal monitoring program can be
realized. Only through the cooperative interaction
of the key federal agencies and coastal states will
the next effort to gauge the health of the coastal
ecosystems in the United States be successful.
   Although most of the chapters in this report
use ecological indicators to address the condition
of coastal resources in each region, Chapter 10
addresses emerging issues and future directions
for the national coastal monitoring program. As
demand for  coastal and marine resources increases
due to growing populations and development,
ecosystems are affected by the resulting
environmental stress. The combination of multiple
coastal stressors (e.g., invasive species, hypoxia,
emerging contaminants, microbial pathogens,
climate change, ocean acidification, sea-level rise)
will impact ecosystem function, likely undermining
the provision of ecosystem services to our society.
Chapter 10 presents the complexities of these
combinations of stresses and the need for targeted
coastal monitoring efforts.
Comparisons  to  Other National
Coastal Condition Reports
   A primary goal of the NCCR series is to provide
a benchmark of coastal condition to measure the
success of coastal programs over time. To achieve
this end, the conditions reported in each report
need to be comparable. For the first two reports
(NCCR I and NCCR II), there was insufficient
information to examine the potential trends in
coastal condition that might be related to changes
in environmental programs and policies. In the
NCCR III, the information from 1990 through
2002 was evaluated for potential trends.
   Comparing data between the NCCR I, NCCR
II, NCCR III, and NCCR IV is complicated
because, in some cases, indices and component
indicators were changed to improve the assessment.
For example, in the NCCR I, three separate
indicators (dissolved oxygen, water clarity, and
eutrophication) were used for water quality, whereas
a single water quality index (composed of five
component indicators) was used in the NCCR II.
In addition, reference conditions for some of the
indices and component indicators were modified
to reflect regional differences. In order to facilitate
a comparison between the NCCR I and NCCR
II, the values reported  in the NCCR I Executive
Summary were recalculated, to the extent possible,
using the approaches followed in the NCCR II,
NCCR III, and NCCR IV (Table ES-4). For
additional information about how these values
were recalculated, please refer to Appendix C of the
NCCR II, which is available online at http://water.
epa.gov/type/oceb/2005_index.cfm.
    ES.I6

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         o
NCCR IV



Region
Northeast Coast





Southeast Coast



Gulf Coast



West Coast



Great Lakes



Alaskad

Southcentral
Southeastern
Hawaiid



American Samoad
Guamd
Puerto Ricod






NCCR
Version
NCCRI

NCCR II

NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCR IV
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV


Water
Quality
Index
1

2

3
3
4
4
3
3
1
3
3
3
1
3
5
5
1
3
3
3
—
—
5
5
—
—
5
5
5
5
—
3
3
4


Sediment
Quality
Index
2

1

2
3
4
4
3
2
3
3
1
1
2
2
2
3
1
1
1
1
—
—
5
5
—
—
4
1
—
5
—
1
1
1


Coastal
Habitat
Index
3

4

4
4
2
3
3
3
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
—
—
—
5
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
	



Benthic
Index
1

1

1
1
3
3
5
5
1
2
1
2
3
3
5
5
1
2
2
2
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
4
—
1
1
3


Fish Tissue
Contaminants
Index
2

|

1
2
5
5
4
5
3
3
5
5
3
1
1
5
3
3
3
3
—
—
5
5
—
—
—
—
5
5
—
—
—
	
^^H


Overall
Condition
1.8

1.8

2.2
2.6
3.6
3.8
3.6
3.6
1.8
2.4
2.2
2.4
2.0
2.0
2.8
3.8
1.4
2.2
2.2
2.2
—
—
5.0
5.0
—
—
4.5
3.0
5.0
4.8
—
1.7
1.7
2.7
T5
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Table ES-4. Rating Scores3 by Index and Region Comparing the NCCR lb, NCCR II, NCCR III0, and
NCCR IV (continued)


U.S. Virgin lslandsd
United States6


Conterminous

NCCR
Version
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCRIII?
NCCR IVf
Water
Quality
Index
5
1.5
3.2
3.8
3.2
Sediment
Quality
Index
2
2.3
2.1
2.8
1.8
Coastal
Habitat
Index
—
1.6
1.7
1.7
1.7

Benth
Inde
5
1.5
2.0
2.1
2.4
                Entire
                      NCCR I
3.6
2.6
2.6

Benthic
Index
5
1.5
2.0
2.1
2.4
2.4
Fish Tissue
Contaminants
Index
—
3.1
2.7
3.4
3.7
4.0

Overall
Condition
4.0
2.0
2.3
2.8
2.5
3.0
a Rating scores are based on a 5-point system, where a score of less than 2.0 is rated poor; 2.0 to less than 2.4 is rated fair to
  poor; 2.4 to less than 3.7 is rated fair; 3.7 to 4.0 is rated good to fair; and greater than 4.0 is rated good.
b Assessments for Alaska and Hawaii were not reported in the NCCR I or NCCR II. The NCCR I assessment of the Northeast
  Coast region did not include  the Acadian Province (i.e. portion of the region north of Cape Cod). The West Coast ratings in
  the NCCR I were compiled using data from many different programs.
c The West Coast, Great Lakes, and Puerto Rico scores for the NCCR III are the same as NCCR II (no new data for the NCCR
  III are provided, except for the West Coast benthic index).
d Overall condition scores for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the island territories were based on two to  three of the five NCA
  indices.
e The U.S. overall condition score is based on an areally weighted mean of regional scores.
f Scores excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
B Scores including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
                 The area covered by the NCA has expanded over
              time with the addition of Alaska, Hawaii, and the
              island territories. The southcentral and southeastern
              regions of Alaska included in the NCCR III and
              NCCR IV assessments had good water quality
              and large coastal areas, which would influence the
              national  water quality index scores. (Hawaii and
              the island territories were also included, but their
              collective coastal areas were less than 1 % of the
              total U.S. area, so their influence on the national
              scores was negligible.) We have assessed the changes
              in national coastal condition over time for both
              the conterminous United States and for the entire
              coastal United States, including Alaska, Hawaii,
              and the island territories. Excluding Alaska, Hawaii,
              and the island territories, the water quality index
              score for the NCCR III and NCCR IV would be
              3.2 (rated fair), which is the same as the score for
              the NCCR II water quality index (Table ES-4).
              Although the  water quality index score increased
              from 1.5 (rated poor) in the NCCR I to 3.2 (rated
                                                        fair) in the NCCR II, this increase is likely due a
                                                        change in methods between these two assessments.
                                                        The water quality assessment method used in
                                                        the NCCR I was largely reliant on professional
                                                        judgment for assessing eutrophication rather than
                                                        on the direct field survey measurements used in
                                                        subsequent NCCRs. Therefore, if the NCCR I
                                                        is excluded,  this trend assessment demonstrates
                                                        no significant change in the water quality of U.S.
                                                        coastal waters since the  publication of the NCCR
                                                        II. If Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories are
                                                        included, however, the water quality index score for
                                                        U.S. coastal waters shows a slight increase from 3-2
                                                        (rated fair) in the NCCR II to  3.6  (rated fair) in the
                                                        NCCR IV
                                                          If Alaska  (and Hawaii and the island territories)
                                                        were excluded from the NCCR III and IV national
                                                        scores, the sediment  quality scores would be 1.6
                                                        (rated poor) for the NCCR III and 1.8 (rated poor)
                                                        for the NCCR IV Excluding Alaska from the
                                                        sediment quality scores  would  result in a decrease
    ES.I8

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                                                                                                                  >-
in the sediment quality index score from 2.3 (rated
fair to poor) in the NCCRI to 1.8 (rated poor)
in the NCCR IV, which could be interpreted as
a degradation in national sediment quality over
time. Including Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
territories, however, shows a slight increase in the
sediment quality index score from 2.3 (rated fair)
in the NCCR I to 2.6 (rated fair) in the NCCR
IV. Although this may appear to  demonstrate a
slight improvement in sediment quality over time,
the scores are not significantly different, and the
sediment quality index is rated fair in each report.
Crabs depend on wetlands for food and shelter
(courtesy of NOAA).
   Without the addition of new information for
Alaska, the coastal habitat index score has not
changed since the NCCR II (Table ES-4). Some
new information was also  available to assess coastal
habitat changes in the Gulf Coast and the U.S.
Virgin Islands; however, the new information
did not impact the nationwide index score, and
the scores presented in this report are similar to
those presented in the NCCR III. Some regional
improvements in the coastal habitat index rating
occurred in the Northeast Coast region between
the NCCR I  (rated fair) and the NCCR II (rated
good to fair); however, the regions with most of
the wetland acreage in the United States (Gulf
Coast, Southeast Coast, and Great Lakes) showed
little or no change in their index ratings over this
time period. With the inclusion of coastal habitat
data for Alaska, the national coastal habitat index
assessment score increased from 1.7 (rated poor) in
the NCCR II to 2.6 (rated fair) in the NCCR IV
   The benthic index, although consistent in
concept,  is calculated differently for each region of
the United States; therefore, the assumption that
unsampled regions reflect the same distribution
pattern of poor conditions as those sampled is
not supported. The national benthic index score
has steadily increased over time from 1.5 (rated
poor) in the NCCR I to 2.4 (rated fair) in the
NCCR IV Unlike the water quality and sediment
quality scores, this increase in score is not unduly
influenced by Alaska,  as benthic condition data
were not available for this region. This assessment
demonstrates a positive change in the benthic
condition of U.S. coastal waters since the
publication of the NCCR I.
   The fish tissue contaminants index shows an
increase from the NCCR I (3-1; rated fair) to the
NCCR IV (4.0; rated good to fair). If the national
score were recalculated without Alaska and the
island territories, however, the score for NCCR IV
would be 3-7 (rated good to fair). In the NCCR
I, fish tissue  contaminant concentrations were
measured only in edible fillets, whereas both the
NCCR II and NCCR III measured whole-body
concentrations. This NCCR IV measured both fish
fillets and whole-body concentrations. Because fillet
and whole-body tissues have different absorption
rates for contaminants, the inclusion of both types
of samples in this assessment could impact the
interpretation of results. Currently, however, it
is not possible to adjust the NCCR assessments
to either  fillet or whole-body concentrations  and
scores. In addition, other changes in geographic
coverage  may have resulted in the apparent increase
in the fish tissue contaminants score over time
(e.g, changes in survey design in the West Coast
to exclude the riverine portion of the Columbia
River; lack of data from Massachusetts waters in
the Northeast Coast region;  the lack of data from
the northern Gulf of Mexico due  to the impacts
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         of Hurricane Katrina). At present, a reasonable
         interpretation of the assessments is that there has
         been a small improvement in contaminant levels in
         fish tissue in U.S. coastal waters, with the national
         fish tissue contaminant index rated fair for the first
         three NCCRs and fair to good in this report.

         Future Efforts
            Each consecutive report in the NCCR series
         has presented an expanded spatial extent of
         sampling, improved indices, and the current state
         of coastal monitoring science. Such improvements
         will continue as the NCA becomes the National
         Coastal Condition Assessment (NCCA), under
         the purview of the EPAs Office of Water (OW)
         for the next NCCR (National Coastal Condition
         Report K[NCCRV]). The NCCA will be part of
         the National Aquatic Resource Survey program,
         which is an effort to assess the quality of various
         U.S. aquatic resources, including lakes, rivers and
         streams,  and wetlands (see http://www.epa.gov/
         OWOW/monitoring/nationalsurveys.html). As
         part of this transformation, the  NCCA will reflect
         changing priorities, with greater focus on human
         health and evolving coastal issues. The NCCA will
         also include, for the first time, statistical survey
         sampling in the Great Lakes and updated sampling
         for the non-conterminous U.S.  states and territories
(with the exception of Alaska). The latest addition
to the NCCR list of indicators under the NCCA
is bacterial contamination, which will be added in
the NCCR V. This indicator reflects the evolving
priorities of the NCCA program under the OW
to prioritize human health and a general effort to
expand estuarine monitoring efforts to assess other
existing and arising coastal issues.
   Improvements in coastal programs are occurring
on a much greater scale as well. Under a directive
from President Barack Obama, an Interagency
Ocean Policy Task Force was formed in June 2009
to streamline  federal agency decision-making and
management  of activities in our nation's coastal
and ocean waters. The Task Force drafted a set of
recommendations that highlighted nine priority
areas, including regional ecosystem protection and
the integration of ocean-observing systems and
data. The NCA program is particularly relevant
to this effort because it provides geospatially
referenced coastal environmental data that are based
on regional ecosystem delineations and integrates
information from other federal agencies. The task
force also drafted the CMSP Interim Handbook,
which provides  for a comprehensive and integrated
approach to facilitating multiple uses and activities
in our coastal waters without undermining the
services generated by coastal ecosystems.
         Lookout on Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii (courtesy of USGS).
ES.20

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          Introduction
   This National Coastal Condition Report IV
(NCCR IV) is the fourth in a series of National
Coastal Condition Reports (NCCRs)  that assess
the condition of the coastal waters (e.g., estuarine,
Great Lakes, coastal embayment waters) and
offshore fisheries of the United States.  The first
NCCR (National Coastal Condition Report I
[NCCR I]; U.S. EPA, 200Ib) assessed the
condition of the nation's coastal waters using data
collected from 1990 to 1996 that were provided
by several existing coastal programs, including the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's)
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Program (EMAP); the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service's (FWS's) National Wetlands Inventory
(NWI) Status and Trends (S&T) program;
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's (NOAA's) National Status &
Trends (NS&T) Program. The second NCCR
(National Coastal Condition Report II [NCCR
II]; U.S. EPA, 2004b) provided information
similar to the information covered in the NCCR
I, but contained more recent (1997—2000) data
from these monitoring programs, as well as data
from EPA's National Coastal Assessment (NCA)
and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS). The NCA is a national coastal monitoring
program implemented at the state level, with
rigorous quality assurance (QA) protocols  and
standardized sampling procedures designed to
minimize spatial variability in national and regional
estimates of coastal condition. The data provided
by the NCA allowed for the development of coastal
condition indicators for 100% of the coastal area of
the conterminous 48 states and Puerto Rico; annual
surveys were conducted from 2000 to  2006. The
third NCCR (National Coastal Condition Report III
[NCCR III]; U.S. EPA, 2008c) built upon the
previous NCCRs and provided assessments based
on data collected in 2001 through 2002. The
NCCR III expanded the NCA survey  area into
the coastal waters of Hawaii and the southcentral
portion of Alaska; provided the status  of offshore
fisheries, beach advisories, and fish advisories; and
assessed national and regional trends in coastal
condition from the early 1990s to 2002.
   This fourth report in the NCCR series is a
collaborative effort among EPA, NOAA, and FWS,
in cooperation with state, territorial, and tribal
agencies. The NCCR IV continues the NCCR
series by providing updated regional and national
assessments of the condition of the nation's coastal
waters and expands the assessment area to include
the coastal waters of American Samoa, Guam, the
U.S. Virgin Islands, and the southeastern portion
of Alaska (henceforth referred to as Southeastern
Alaska), based primarily on NCA data collected
in 2003 through 2006. The assessment of offshore
fisheries provided in this report is based on long-
term data collected since monitoring of the
individual fisheries began. In addition, this report
examines national and regional trends in coastal
condition from 2000 to 2006 based on the NCA
data.

Purpose of This Report
   The purpose of the NCCR IV is to present
a snapshot of conditions of coastal waters for
2003 through 2006, coastal ocean waters (where
available), fisheries in coastal  ocean waters, and
beach and fish advisories around the United States
and its territories. This report is written for the
informed public, coastal managers, scientists,
members of Congress, and other elected officials.
English  units are used in most of the report
because  these units are most familiar and best
understood by the target audience in the United
States. The NCCR IV uses currently available data
sets to discuss the condition of the nation's coastal
waters and is not intended to be a comprehensive
literature review of coastal information. Instead,
this report uses NCA and other monitoring data
on a variety of indicators to provide insight into
current coastal condition. Because these assessments
are a "snapshot" of the environment at the time
the measurements were collected, some of the
uncertainly associated with the measurements

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is difficult to quantify. Weather impacts such as
droughts, floods, and hurricanes can affect results
for weeks to months, in addition to normal
sampling variability. The NCCR IV also examines
national and regional trends in coastal condition
from 2000 to 2006. This report will serve as a
continuing benchmark to analyze the progress of
coastal programs and will be followed in subsequent
years by reports on more specialized coastal issues.
This report also identifies data gaps, emerging
issues for coastal managers, and the potential future
direction of coastal monitoring efforts.
   The NCCR IV includes an updated  and
expanded assessment of the coastal condition in the
Great Lakes, with monitoring data comparable to
NCA indicators from the State of the Great Lakes
2009 report (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
2009b), as well as assessments of coastal condition
in new NCA survey areas, including American
Samoa, Southeastern Alaska, Guam, and the U.S.
Virgin Islands. Conditions in offshore coastal
ocean waters are also assessed in this report using
a probabilistic survey of coastal ocean conditions
conducted by NOAA and the EPA in the Northeast
Coast, Southeast Coast, and West Coast regions.
Data on the status of fisheries  from NOAA's NMFS
are also summarized. The format of the Beach
Advisories and Closures section has been revised
to include information on trends in regional beach
closures,  reasons for actions/pollution sources, and
the duration of advisory actions.
Red mangroves colonize coastlines and estuaries in
many tropical and subtropical estuaries, such as this one
in the U.S.Virgin Islands (courtesy of USGS).
   The final chapter of this report (Chapter 10)
explores emerging issues in coastal monitoring and
management, including climate change, hypoxia,
invasive species, emerging contaminants, and
microbial pathogens. This chapter is not intended
to present the most comprehensive or technical
information on these issues; rather, it provides
summaries to familiarize the reader with key
topics and existent programs. Links to additional
information are also included.

Why Are Coastal Waters
Important?

Coastal Waters Are Valuable and
Productive Natural Ecosystems
   Coastal waters include estuaries, coastal
wetlands, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, intertidal
zones, mangrove and kelp forests, and coastal
ocean and upwelling areas. Estuaries are bodies of
water that receive freshwater and sediment influx
from rivers and tidal influx from the oceans, thus
providing transition zones between the fresh water
of a river and the saline environment of the sea.
This interaction produces a unique environment
that supports wildlife and fisheries and contributes
substantially to the economy of coastal areas.
Estuaries also: supply water for industrial uses; lose
water to freshwater diversions for drinking and
irrigation; are the critical terminals of the nation's
marine transportation system and the U.S. Navy;
provide a point of discharge for municipalities and
industries; and are the downstream recipient of
nonpoint-source runoff.
   These waters provide ecosystem services that
benefit human well-being (e.g., water purification
and protection against storm surges). Critical
coastal habitats provide spawning grounds,
nurseries, and shelter, and food for finfish,
shellfish, and other wildlife. The coasts also  provide
essential nesting, resting, feeding, and breeding
habitat for 75% of U.S. waterfowl and other
migratory birds (U.S. EPA, 1998). The human
race is constantly and permanently changing
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ecosystems, and consequently, the services afforded
by those ecosystems. In the past, when human
populations were low, ecosystems had the ability
to naturally recover from human influence; thus,
the ecosystem services provided to humans were
considered free and limitless. However, due to
the world's ever-expanding population and more
advanced landscape-changing technologies, this is
no longer  true. Products and processes of nature
supply materials for economic development, food,
clothing, medicines, even the air we breathe and
the water we drink; however, recognizing that
these services are not limitless, we need a new way
to identify how human management and policies
affect ecosystems to ensure that we are better
stewards of the environment upon which our very
lives and livelihoods depend.
  Despite the critical nature of these  choices, the
ecosystem services listed above are most often not
considered in management decisions,  due in large
part to a lack of proper valuation  for these services.
In an effort to fill this gap, the EPA's Office of
Research and Development created the Ecosystem
Services Research Program (ESRP) to  identify,
map, model, and quantify ecosystem services. More
information on the ESRP is provided  in Chapter
10 and can be found online at http://www.epa.gov/
ecology/.

Coastal Populations and Economics
   Coastal areas are the most developed areas in
the United States. The narrow fringe of land that
comprises coastal areas—only 17% of the total
conterminous U.S. land area—is home to more
than 53% of the nation's population (Figure 1-1).
In 2006, the total population in U.S. coastal
counties was estimated  at over 127 million, a 29%
increase over 1980. This growth has not been
uniform across the United States; the Southeast
Coast region has seen the largest population percent
increase (78%), while the population in the  Great
Lakes region has increased by approximately 1%
over the same time period. In addition to the sheer
numbers of people living on the coast,  the majority
of the nation's most densely populated  areas  are
located along the coast. The population density of
U.S. coastal counties is  183 persons/square miles
nationwide, much higher than the national average
of 98 persons/square mile for noncoastal counties
(NOEP, 2010).
   In addition to being a popular place to live,
the nation's coasts are of great recreational value.
Beaches have become one of the most popular
vacation destinations in the United States, with
180 million people visiting the nation's coasts each
year (Cunningham and Walker,  1996). From 1999
to 2000, more than 43% of the U.S. population
participated in marine recreational activities,
including sport fishing, boating, swimming, and
diving (Leeworthy and Wiley, 2001).
   In 2007, the coastal economy supported over
48 million jobs, a 9-7% growth over the previous
decade.  That year, the coastal states also contributed
$11.4 trillion to the U.S. economy (Kidlow  et al.,
2009). In 2006, the commercial landings of marine
species in the United States  were approximately 9-5
billion pounds, a landed value of nearly $4 billion.
Roughly 30% of the nation's commercial landings
are taken within 3 miles of shore (NMFS, 2007a).
Wetlands are important for many reasons.They improve
water quality, buffer storm damage, and provide critical
habitat to fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife (courtesy
ofNPS).

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 Figure I -1.  Population distribution in the United States based on 2000 U.S. Census Bureau data (U.S. Census Bureau,
 2001).
Why Be Concerned about
Coastal Condition?
   Because a disproportionate percentage of the
nation's population resides in coastal areas, the
activities of municipalities, commerce, industry,
and tourism create environmental pressures that
threaten the very resources that make coastal living
desirable. Population pressures include increased
solid waste production; higher volumes of urban
nonpoint-source runoff; loss of green space  and
wildlife habitat; declines in ambient water and
sediment quality; and increased demands for
wastewater treatment, irrigation and potable water,
and energy supplies. Development pressures result
in substantial physical changes along many  areas
of the coastal zone. Coastal wetlands continue to
be lost to residential and commercial development,
and the quantity and timing of freshwater flow,
which is critical to riverine and estuarine function,
continue to be altered. In effect, the same human
uses that are desired of coastal habitats also have
the potential to lessen their value. In addition, new
pressures are on the horizon as a result of climate-
change impacts and  other emerging issues. This
report not only discusses the indicators of coastal
condition that gauge the extent to which  coastal
habitats and resources have been altered, but it also
addresses connections between coastal condition
and the ability of coastal areas to meet human
expectations for their use.

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Assessment of Coastal
Condition
   Two sources of coastal information use
nationally consistent data-collection designs and
methods—EPA's NCA and FWS's NWI S&T.
The NCA collects data from all coastal areas in the
United States, except the Great Lakes region and
the Northern Mariana Islands, and these data are
representative of all coastal waters. The NWI S&T
provides estimates of wetland acreage (including
coastal wetlands) by wetland type based on satellite
reconnaissance of all U.S. states and territories.
   This report examines several available data sets
from different agencies and areas of the country
and summarizes them to  present a broad baseline
picture of the  condition of the nation's coastal
waters. Four types of data are presented in this
report:
  • Coastal monitoring data from programs such
    as  EPA's NCA and FWS's NWI S&T, along
    with data from  the Great Lakes National
    Program Office (GLNPO); these data have
    been analyzed for this report and were used to
    develop indices of coastal condition.
  • Coastal ocean monitoring data from
    probabilistic surveys  conducted by NOAA and
    the EPA in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, the South
    Atlantic Bight, and West Coast, covering waters
    from estuaries to the continental shelf, were
    assessed using the NCA estuarine indices.
  • Fisheries data for Large Marine Ecosystems
    (LMEs) from NOAA's NMFS.
  • Advisory data provided by states  or other
    regulatory agencies and compiled in national
    EPA databases.
   This report presents available coastal monitoring
information on a national scale for the 30 coastal
states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and
the U.S. Virgin Islands; these data are also analyzed
by geographic region in seven chapters: Northeast
Coast, Southeast  Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast,
Great Lakes, Alaska and Hawaii, and the island
territories. In most cases, these geographic regions
roughly coincide with the borders of the 11 LMEs
surrounding U.S. states and island territories
(Figure 1-2, Table 1-1). Advisory data for the
regions are presented at the end of each chapter.
Although inconsistencies in the way different state
agencies collect and provide advisory data prevent
the use of these data for comparing conditions
between coastal areas, the information is valuable
because it helps identify and illuminate some of the
causes  of coastal impairment, as well  as the impacts
of these impairments on human uses.
          Why Doesn't This Assessment Use More of the Available Data Sets?
          Many other sets of monitoring data are available for estuarine and coastal areas around the United
          States; however, these data sets were not included in this report for several reasons.  Most of these
          data sets were not collected using a probabilistic survey design and, therefore, are not representative
          of the entire region covered by the sampling program. For example, the locations of the monitoring
          stations used to collect the data may have been selected to meet specific program goals, such as
          monitoring water quality near wastewater-discharge points.Also, these monitoring programs are
          conducted by different agencies or organizations and use various methods for data collection, analysis,
          and evaluation. The parameters and time frames monitored may also vary between monitoring
          programs. Unlike the NCA "snapshot" data, these types of monitoring programs often provide
          long-term data suitable for assessing program goals or monitoring changes in coastal condition over
          a longer time period in  the areas targeted by these efforts; however, it would be difficult to compare
          these data sets on a regional or national basis to assess coastal condition or integrate them into the
          NCCR IV assessment.

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American Samoa
  Coastal Area
                                                                              Northeast
                                                                             Coastal Area
                                                                              and LME
                                                                         U.S.Virgin Islands and
                                                                         Puerto Rico Coastal
                                                                     Areas and Caribbean Sea LME

                       Alaska Coastal
                       Area and LME
                      (southeastern area
                        shown in red)
          Hawaii
       Coastal Area
         and LME
                                                                                                                     ,

                                                                                                                     8.
                                                                                                                     .1
Figure 1-2. Coastal and Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) areas presented in the chapters of this report (U.S. EPA/
NCA).
 Table  I -1. Comparison of NCA's Reporting Regions and NOAA's LMEs
 NCA Reporting Regions
 Northeast Coast
 Southeast Coast
 Gulf Coast
 West Coast
 Alaska

 Hawaii
 American Samoa
 Guam
 Puerto Rico
 U.S.Virgin Islands
                            NOAA LMEs
Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
Gulf of Mexico LME
California Current LME
East Bering Sea LME, West Bering Sea LME, Gulf of Alaska LME, Chukchi Sea
LME, Beaufort Sea LME
Insular Pacific-Hawaii LME
Not in an LME
Not in an LME
Caribbean Sea LME
Caribbean Sea LME

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Coastal Monitoring Data
   A large percentage of the data used in this
assessment of coastal condition comes from EPA's
NCA program. The NCA provides representative
data on biota (e.g., benthos) and potential
environmental stressors (i.e., water quality,
sediment quality, and fish tissue bioaccumulation)
for all coastal states (except states in the Great
Lakes region), American Samoa, Guam, Puerto
Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (U.S. EPA,
2004b, 2007a, 2008c). The NCA data analyzed for
this report were collected from 3,144 sites in 21
coastal states of the conterminous United States, as
well as in Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, American
Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin
Islands, during the summers of 2003 through 2006.
The NCA data are stored in the EMAP National
Coastal Assessment Database, available online at
http://www.epa.gov/emap/nca/html/data/index.
html. Coastal condition is also evaluated using data
from the NWI S&T, which provides information
on the status of and trends in the nation's coastal
wetlands acreage.
   Five primary indices of environmental condition
were created using data available from these
national programs: a water quality index, sediment
quality index, benthic index, coastal habitat index,
and fish tissue contaminants index. The five indices
were selected because of the availability of relatively
consistent data sets for these parameters for most
of the country. The indices do not address all of the
coastal characteristics that are valued by society, but
they do provide information on both the ecological
condition and human use of coastal waters.
Component indicators for the water quality index
(dissolved inorganic nitrogen [DIN], dissolved
inorganic phosphorus [DIP], chlorophyll a, water
clarity, and dissolved oxygen) and the sediment
quality index (sediment toxicity, sediment
contaminants, and sediment total organic carbon
[TOC]) are also assessed in this report.
   Characterizing coastal areas using each of the
five indices involved two steps. The first step was
to assess condition at an individual monitoring
site for each index and component indicator. Each
site received a rating of good, fair, or poor for
each index and component indicator, depending
on the rating cutpoints. The range of values for
these cutpoints was determined from literature,
best professional judgment, or expert opinion
(Table 1-2). In some cases, different value ranges
were determined for different regions based on
comments from peer reviewers and consultations
with state water quality managers. These ranges
were reevaluated for each NCCR by groups of
experts, including academic scientists, government
scientists, and others. Technical workgroups have
already begun reassessing these ranges for the
NCCR V For the component indicators and the
benthic and fish tissue contaminants indices, the
rating at each station was translated to scores (good
= 5, fair = 3, poor =1). For the water quality and
sediment quality indices, the ratings for each station
were calculated based on how many (and which)
component indicators received a poor rating at
the station; these  ratings were then translated into
regional scores.
           Additional information about
           Environmental Monitoring and
           Assessment Program (EMAP) survey
           designs and field, laboratory, and
           statistical methods can be found online
           at http://www.epa.gov/nheerl/arm/.

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 Table  I -2. Sources of Information to Establish Ranges of CutpointValues for Good, Fair, or Poor
 Ratings
                    Index
 Water Quality Index

 Sediment Quality Index

 Benthic Index

 Benthic Diversity (in lieu of benthic index)
 Coastal Habitat Index
 Fish Tissue Contaminants Index

 Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN)
 Dissolved Inorganic Phosphorus (DIP)
 Chlorophyll a

 Water Clarity

 Dissolved Oxygen

 Sediment Contaminants
 Sediment Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
                          Source
Best professional judgment; consultations with experts and
selected state water quality managers
Best professional judgment; consultations with experts and
selected state water quality managers
Engle et al., 1994; Weisberg et al., 1997; Engle and Summers, 1999;
Van Dolah et al., 1999; Paul et al., 2001; Hale and Heltsche, 2008
Best professional judgment; consultations with experts
Best professional judgment; consultations with experts at FWS
U.S. EPA, 2000c; consultations with experts
                          Source
Bricker et al., 1999
Bricker et al., 1999
Bricker et al., 1999; selected state criteria for chlorophyll a in
coastal waters
Smith et al., 2006; best professional judgment; consultations with
selected state water quality managers
Diaz and Rosenberg, 1995; U.S. EPA, 2000b; selected state criteria
for dissolved oxygen in  coastal waters
Long et al., 1995; consultations with experts
Best professional judgment; consultations with experts and
selected state water quality managers

                                                                                                                     .1
   The second step was to assign a regional index
rating based on the condition of the monitoring
sites within the region. An areally weighted
cumulative distribution function (CDF) was
calculated for each index and component indicator
(except for the fish tissue contaminants index) to
show what percentage of the area in each region
had scores  of 1  (poor), 3 (fair), and 5 (good) (Diaz-
Ramos et al., 1996). The CDF was calculated for
the distribution of sites in each region over all
years (2003—2006) cumulatively. Error estimates
and 95% confidence intervals were also calculated
for the CDF  (see Appendix A of the NCCR III
for more information). The region was then rated
overall as good, fair, or poor for each index or
component indicator based on the percent area
that was  rated good, fair, and poor for each index
or indicator. As an example, for a region to be
rated poor for the dissolved oxygen component
         indicator, sampling sites representing more than
         15% of the coastal area in the region must have
         measured dissolved oxygen concentrations less than
         2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and be rated poor.
         For all of the indices of condition, the "fair" rating
         can have a score of 2, 3, or 4. This distinction is
         based on best professional judgment and is used
         to determine when final scores are "fair to poor"
         or "good to fair," rather than just fair. The regional
         cutpoints (i.e., percentages used to rate each
         index of coastal condition) were determined as  a
         median of responses provided through a survey
         of environmental managers, resource experts, and
         the knowledgeable public. The following sections
         provide detailed descriptions of each index and
         component indicator, as well as the cutpoints for
         determining the regional ratings for the five indices
         as good, fair, or poor.

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        Limitations of Available  Data
          Throughout the NCCR series, assessments of
        coastal waters beyond the conterminous United
        States have been largely limited to localized surveys.
        In 2004, the NCA was expanded to include the
        coastal waters of the U.S. territories of American
        Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the
        Pacific island Commonwealth of the Northern
        Mariana Islands is still not included in the NCA.
        The NCA sampled 49 sites in American Samoa,
        50 sites in Guam, and 47 sites in the U.S. Virgin
        Islands. Additionally, another assessment was
        conducted of Puerto Rico's coastal waters, with 50
        sites sampled. This assessment provides a critical
        update of the assessment provided for Puerto
        Rico in the NCCR II and III, which consisted
        of sampling conducted in 2000. The coastal
        ecosystems around American Samoa, Guam, Puerto
        Rico, and  the U.S. Virgin Islands make up only
        a small portion of the nation's coastal area, but
        they represent a unique set of coastal subsystems
        (such as coral reefs and tropical bays) that are not
        located anywhere else in the United States, except
        for southern Florida and the Flower Gardens off the
        Texas/Louisiana coast.
          Nearly 75% of the area of all the bays, sounds,
        and estuaries in the United States are located in
        Alaska, and no national report on coastal condition
        can be complete without information on the
        condition  of the living resources and ecological
        health of these waters. In 2004, a survey was
        conducted of Southeastern Alaska's coastal waters
        using three of the NCA indices (water quality,
        sediment quality, and fish tissue contamination).
        Assessments  from these coastal waters, which
        represent 63% of Alaska's total coastline (Sharma,
        1979) and one LME, are included in this report.
        The benthic  and coastal habitat indices for this
        region could not be evaluated for the NCA. Coastal
        condition  in Alaska is difficult to assess because very
        little information is available for most of the state
        to support the type of analysis in this report (i.e.,
        spatial estimates of condition based on the indices
        and component indicators measured consistently
        across broad regions). The southeastern coast of
Alaska contains mostly fiords, bays, coves, estuaries,
and other coastal features that are difficult to access
and often inaccessible by road. In order to address
these logistical issues, the NCA, EPA Region 10,
Alaska DEC, and other state natural resource
agencies drafted a sampling design for Alaska in the
late 1990s that could be executed in five phases.
The NCCR III  included results from the first phase
in Southcentral Alaska.
   The NCCR IV presents results from a survey
of Hawaii's coastal waters conducted in 2006.
This assessment includes both the water quality
and sediment quality indices, providing an update
to the results from the 2002 survey presented in
the NCCR III.  The benthic, coastal habitat, and
fish contaminants indices could not be evaluated
for the 2006 survey. Although the coastal waters
of Hawaii represent only 1 % of the state's coastal
ocean area, they are ecologically significant and
include estuaries that provide critical spawning
and nursery grounds for many fisheries. In the
Hawaii NCA, the coastal area assessed included
spatially limited estuaries and semi-enclosed coastal
embayments, with nearshore coral reef habitats that
are highly important to Hawaii, both ecologically
and economically.
   This report makes the best use of available
data to characterize  and assess the condition
of the nation's coastal resources; however, the
report cannot represent all individual coastal
and estuarine systems of the United States or all
of the appropriate spatial scales (e.g., national,
regional, local) necessary to comprehensively
assess coastal condition. This assessment is based
on a limited number of ecological indices and
component indicators for which consistent data
sets are available to support estimates of ecological
condition on regional and national scales. The
developers of this national coastal assessment
continue to incorporate new research findings and
work with decision makers and coastal experts to
improve the assessment methods,  indicators, and
cutpoints used to interpret coastal condition. These
improvements will be  reflected in the next National
Coastal Condition Report V
10

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Indices Used to Measure
Coastal Condition
 EI» Water Quality Index
   The water quality index is based on
measurements of five component indicators: DIN,
DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and dissolved
oxygen. Some nutrient inputs to coastal waters
(such as DIN and  DIP) are necessary for a healthy,
functioning estuarine ecosystem; however, when
nutrients from various sources, such as sewage
and fertilizers, are introduced into an estuary,
their concentrations  can increase above natural
background levels. This increase in the rate of
supply of organic matter is called eutrophication
and may result in a host of undesirable water
quality conditions (Figure 1-3), including excess
plant production (phytoplankton or algae) and
increased chlorophyll a concentrations, which can
decrease water clarity and lower concentrations
of dissolved oxygen.  For further discussion of
eutrophication and potential interactions with
climate change, see Chapter 10.
   The water quality index used in this report is
intended to characterize degraded water quality
conditions, using five component indicators. It
does not isolate a particular agent of degradation,
nor does it consistently identify sites experiencing
occasional or infrequent hypoxia (i.e., low dissolved
oxygen conditions), nutrient enrichment, or
decreased water clarity. As a result, a rating of poor
for the water quality index means that the site
exhibited poor condition on the  date sampled and
is more likely to have poor condition during the
monitoring period. If a site is designated as fair  or
good, the site did not experience poor condition
on the date sampled, but could be characterized by
poor condition at other times. Thus, increased or
supplemental sampling would be needed to assess
the level of variability in the index at a specific site.
  •:•••'
  % «»f Phytoplankton Bloom
   * - »  thrives on nutrients
     \   Dissolved Oxygen
   * 9   trapped in the upper,
   » » "   lower-salinity layer
 Dead *
material*
settles •	
         Decomposition

              I
     Dissolved Oxygen used up
     by microorganism respiration
                              Dissolved Oxygen
                              from wave action
                              and photosynthesis
                                      Lower-density
                                      surface water
     >l
    .••
                                     Higher-density
                                      bottom water
                 Nutrients
          released by bottom sediments
                        Dissolved Oxygen consumed
                                   Fish will avoid
                                  hypoxia if possible
 Shellfish
 and other
  benthic
 organisms
  unable
 to escape
  hypoxia
               Decomposition of organic
                 matter in sediments
Figure 1-3. Eutrophication can occur when the
concentration of available nutrients increases above
normal levels (U.S. EPA/NCA).

Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
   Nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary and
natural nutrients required for the growth of
phytoplankton, the primary producers that form
the base of the food web in coastal waters; however,
excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus can
result in large, undesirable phytoplankton blooms.
DIN is the nutrient type most responsible for
eutrophication in open estuarine and marine
waters, whereas DIP is more likely to promote algal
growth in the tidal—freshwater parts of estuaries.
   In most regions, NCA data were only available
for the dissolved inorganic forms of nitrogen and
phosphorus (i.e., DIN and DIP), which were

                                                             .1

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        determined chemically through the collection of
        filtered surface water at each site. DIN and DIP
        represent the portion of the total nitrogen and
        phosphorus pool in estuarine and coastal waters
        that remains once these nutrients have been sorbed
        to sediments or assimilated by phytoplankton,
        benthic microalgae, or higher aquatic plants.
        Although DIN and DIP alone  are not adequate
        indicators of the trophic state or water quality of
        coastal waters, susceptibility to  eutrophication may
        be indicated when high concentrations of DIN and
        DIP are observed  along with high chlorophyll a
        levels, poor water  clarity, or hypoxia. In Guam,
        nutrient levels were assessed using nitrate-nitrogen
        and DIP. Coastal monitoring sites were rated good,
        fair, or poor for DIN in most regions and for
        nitrate-nitrogen in Guam and DIP; these ratings
        are based on the cutpoints shown in Tables 1-3  and
        1-4. The site ratings were then  used to calculate an
        overall rating for each region.


        Table 1-3. Cutpoints for Assessing Dissolved
        Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN)a
           Area       Good        Fair        Poor
        Northeast,     <0.lmg/L  0.1-0.5 mg/L   > 0.5 mg/L
        Southeast,
        Gulf Coast,
        and Guam3
        sites
Table 1-4. Cutpoints for Assessing Dissolved
Inorganic Phosphorus (DIP)
West Coast,
Alaska, and
American
Samoa sites
Hawaii,
Puerto Rico,
U.S.Virgin
Islands, and
Florida Bay
sites
Regions







< 0.5 mg/L


< 0.05 mg/L


Less than
10% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
and more
than 50% of
the coastal
area is in
good condi-
tion
0.5- 1.0 mg/L


0.05-
0.1 mg/L


10% to 25%
of the coastal
area is in
poor condi-
tion, or 50%
or less of the
coastal area
is in good
condition.


> 1 mg/L


> 0. 1 mg/L


More than
25% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition





Area Good Fair Poor
Northeast,
Southeast,
and Gulf
Coast sites
West Coast,
Alaska, and
American
Samoa sites
Hawaii,
Puerto Rico,
U.S.Virgin
Islands, and
Florida Bay
sites
Guam sites
Regions







< 0.0 1 mg/L

< 0.07 mg/L

< 0.005
mg/L


< 0.025
mg/L
Less than
10% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
and more
than 50% of
the coastal
area is in
good condi-
tion.
0.01-0.05
mg/L

0.07-0. 1
mg/L

0.005-0.01
mg/L


0.025-0. 1
mg/L
10% to 25%
of the coastal
area is in
poor condi-
tion, or 50%
or less of the
coastal area
is in good
condition.


> 0.05 mg/L

> 0. 1 mg/L

> 0.01 mg/L


> 0. 1 mg/L
More than
25% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition.






                                                                        The National Coastal Assessment
                                                                        (NCA) monitoring data used in
                                                                        this assessment are based on single-
                                                                        day measurements collected at sites
                                                                        throughout the U.S. coastal waters
                                                                        (excluding the Great Lakes) during a
                                                                        9- to 12-week period during the
                                                                        summer. Each site was sampled once
                                                                        during the collection period of 2003
                                                                        through 2006. Data were not collected
                                                                        during other time periods.
         1 In Guam, the cutpoints apply to concentrations of
          nitrate-nitrogen.
12

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Chlorophyll a
   One of the symptoms of degraded water quality
condition is the increase of phytoplankton biomass
as measured by the concentration of chlorophyll a.
Chlorophyll a is a measure used to indicate the
amount of microscopic algae (or phytoplankton)
growing in a waterbody High concentrations of
chlorophyll a indicate the potential for problems
related to the overproduction of algae. For this
report, surface concentrations of chlorophyll a
were determined from a filtered portion of water
collected at each site. Surface chlorophyll a
concentrations at a site were rated good, fair, or
poor using the cutpoints shown in Table 1-5. The
site ratings were then used to calculate an  overall
chlorophyll a rating for each region.
Table  1-5. Cutpoints for Assessing Chlorophyll a
    Area        Good        Fair        Poor
 Northeast,
 Southeast,
 Gulf, and
 West Coast
 and Alaska
 sites
  < 5 ug/L     5-20 ug/L
                20 ug/L
 Hawaii,
 Puerto Rico,
 U.S.Virgin
 Islands,
 Guam,Amer-
 ican Samoa,
 and Florida
 Bay sites
 <0.5 ug/L    0.5-1 ug/L
                 I Mg/L
 Regions
 Less than
 10% of the
coastal area
 is in poor
 condition,
 and more
than 50% of
the coastal
 area is  in
good condi-
   tion.
 10% to 20%
of the coastal
  area is in
 poor condi-
 tion, or 50%
or less of the
 coastal area
  is in good
  condition.
 More than
 20% of the
coastal area
 is in poor
 condition.
Water Clarity
   Clear waters are generally valued by society for
aesthetics and recreation. In many coastal waters,
water clarity is important for light penetration to
support submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), which
provides essential habitat for the resident biota.
Water clarity is affected by physical factors such as
wind and/or other forces that suspend sediments
and particulate matter in the water; by chemical
factors that influence the amount of dissolved
organics measured as color; and by phytoplankton
levels in a waterbody. The naturally turbid waters of
estuaries, however, can also be valuable to society.
Turbid waters can support healthy and productive
ecosystems by supplying building materials for
maintaining estuarine habitats (e.g., coastal
wetlands) and providing food and protection to
resident organisms; however, turbid waters can be
harmful to coastal ecosystems if sediment loads
bury benthic communities, inhibit filter feeders, or
block light needed by seagrasses.
   NCA estimates water clarity using specialized
equipment that compares the amount and type of
light reaching the water surface to the light at a
depth of 1 meter. A Secchi disk may also be used
to determine the depth to which ambient light
penetrates the water column. Local variability  in
water clarity occurs between the different regions
within an estuary, as well as  at a single location in
an estuary, due to tides, storm events, wind mixing,
and changes in incident light. The probabilistic
nature of the NCA study design accounts for this
local variability when the results are assessed on
larger regional or national scales. Water clarity also
varies naturally among various parts of the nation;
therefore, the water clarity component indicator
is compared to regional reference conditions at
1 meter. The regional reference conditions were
determined by examining available data for each
of the U.S. regions (Smith et al., 2006). Reference
conditions for a site rated poor were set at 10%
of incident light available at a depth of 1  meter
for normally turbid locations (most of the United
States), 5% for locations with naturally high
turbidity (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South
Carolina, Georgia, and Delaware Bay), and 20%

                                                                                                       .1

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        for regions of the country with significant SAV beds
        or active programs for SAV restoration (Laguna
        Madre; the Big Bend region of Florida; the region
        from Tampa Bay to Florida Bay; the Indian River
        Lagoon; portions of Chesapeake Bay; Hawaii;
        American Samoa; Guam; Puerto Rico; and the U.S.
        Virgin Islands). Table 1-6 summarizes the rating
        cutpoints for water clarity for each monitoring
        station and for the regions.

        Table 1-6. Criteria for Assessing Water Clarity
Area
Sites in
coastal wa-
ters with
naturally
high turbid-
ity
Sites in
coastal
waters with
normal
turbidity
Sites in
coastal
waters that
support
SAV
Regions







Good
> 10% light
at 1 meter



> 20% light
at 1 meter



> 40% light
at 1 meter


Less than
10% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
and more
than 50% of
the coastal
area is in
good condi-
tion
Fair
5- 10% light
at 1 meter



10-20% light
at 1 meter



20-40% light
at 1 meter


10% to
25% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
or 50% or
less of the
coastal area
is in good
condition.

Poor
< 5% light at
1 meter



< 10% light
at 1 meter



< 20% light
at 1 meter


More than
25% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition.





        Dissolved Oxygen
          Dissolved oxygen is necessary for all aquatic
        life. Often, low dissolved oxygen conditions occur
        as a result of large algal blooms that sink to the
        bottom, where bacteria use oxygen as they degrade
        the algal mass. In addition, low dissolved oxygen
        conditions can be the result of stratification due to
        strong, freshwater river discharge on the  surface,
        which overrides the heavier, saltier bottom water of
a coastal waterbody. The cutpoint used in the NCA
analysis for poor dissolved oxygen condition is a
value below 2 mg/L in bottom waters. The majority
of coastal states either use different cutpoints,
ranging from an average of 4 to 5 mg/L throughout
the water column to a specific concentration
(usually 4 or 5 mg/L) at mid-water, or include  a
frequency or duration of time that the low dissolved
oxygen concentration must occur (e.g., 20% of
observed values). The NCA chose to use 2 mg/L in
bottom waters because this level is clearly indicative
of potential harm to estuarine organisms (Diaz and
Rosenberg, 1995; U.S. EPA, 2000b). Because so
many state agencies use higher concentrations, the
NCA evaluated the proportion of waters that have
dissolved oxygen concentrations between 5 and 2
mg/L in bottom waters as being in fair condition
(i.e., threatened).
   These low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) or a lack of
oxygen (anoxia) most often occur in bottom waters
and affect the organisms that live in the sediments.
In some coastal waters, low dissolved oxygen
levels occur periodically or may be a part of the
waterbody's natural ecology.  Therefore, although it
is easy to show a snapshot of the dissolved oxygen
conditions in the nation's coastal waters, it is
difficult to interpret whether any poor conditions
in this snapshot are representative of eutrophication
or the result of natural physical processes. In
addition, the snapshot may not be representative
of all summertime periods, such as variable daily
conditions (see text box). Unless otherwise noted,
the dissolved oxygen data presented in this report
were collected by the NCA at a depth of 1 meter
above the sediment at each station (e.g., surface
dissolved oxygen was measured in Southeastern
Alaska). Dissolved oxygen concentrations at
individual monitoring sites and over regions were
rated good, fair, or poor using the cutpoints shown
in Table 1-7.
14

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Table 1-7. Cutpoints for Assessing Dissolved
Oxygen
    Area        Good        Fair
Individual
sampling
sites
Regions





> 5 mg/L
Less than
5% of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
and more
than 50% of
the coastal
area is in
good
condition.
2-5 mg/L
5% to 1 5%
of the
coastal area
is in poor
condition,
or 50% or
less of the
coastal area
is in good
condition.
< 2 mg/L
More than
15% of the
coastal
area is in
poor
condition.



 '..
Temporal variations in dissolved
oxygen depletion can have adverse
biological effects (Coiro et al., 2000).
Stressful hypoxia may occur for a few
hours before dawn in productive surface
waters, when respiration depletes
dissolved oxygen faster than it is
replenished. The NCA does not measure
these events because most samples are
collected later in the day. The NCA
estimates do not apply to dystrophic
systems, in which dissolved oxygen levels
are acceptable during daylight hours, but
decrease to low (even unacceptable)
levels during the night. Many of these
systems and the biota associated with
them are adapted to this cycle—a natural
process of oxygen production during
the day and respiration at night—which
is common in wetland, swamp, and
blackwater ecosystems. NCA sampling
does not address the duration of hypoxic
events because each station is sampled
on only I day during the summer. In
addition, year-to-year variations in
estuarine dissolved oxygen  levels can
be substantial as a result of a variety of
factors, including variations in freshwater
inflow, factors affecting water-column
stratification, and changes in nutrient
delivery.
                                             Calculating the Water Quality Index
                                               Once DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity,
                                             and dissolved oxygen were assessed for a given site,
                                             the water quality index rating was calculated for
                                             the site based on these five component indicators.
                                             The water quality index was rated good, fair, poor,
                                             or missing using the cutpoints shown in Table 1-8.
                                             A water quality index was then calculated for each
                                             region using the criteria shown in Table 1-9.
                                                       Table 1-8.  Cutpoints for Determining the Wa-
                                                       ter Quality Index Rating by Site
Rating
Good
Fair
Poor
Missing
Cutpoints
A maximum of one indicator is rated fair,
and no indicators are rated poor.
One of the indicators is rated poor, or two
or more indicators are rated fair.
Two or more of the five indicators are
rated poor.
Two component indicators are missing, and
the available indicators do not suggest a fair
or poor rating.
                                                      Table 1-9. Cutpoints for Determining the Wa-
                                                      ter Quality Index Rating by Region
                                                       Rating
Cutpoints

                                                       Good     Less than 10% of the coastal area is in poor
                                                                 condition, and more than 50% of the coastal
                                                                 area is in good condition.
                                                       Fair       10% to 20% of the coastal area is in poor
                                                                 condition, or 50% or less of the coastal area
                                                                 is in good condition.
                                                       Poor      More  than 20% of the coastal area is in
                                                               I poor condition.

                                                                                                                    .1

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      Sediment Quality Index
   Another issue of major environmental concern
in coastal waters is the contamination of sediments
with toxic chemicals. A wide variety of metals and
organic substances, such as polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs), and pesticides, are discharged into coastal
waters from urban, agricultural, and industrial
sources in a watershed. These contaminants adsorb
onto suspended particles and eventually accumulate
in depositional basins, where they may have adverse
effects on the benthic community of invertebrates,
shellfish, and crustaceans that live in or on the
sediments. To the extent that the contaminants
become concentrated in the organisms, they pose
a risk to organisms throughout the food web—
including humans.
   The NCA collected sediment samples, measured
the concentrations of chemical constituents and
TOC in the sediments, and evaluated sediment
toxicity by measuring the survival of the marine
amphipod Ampelisca abdita following a 10-day
exposure to the sediments under laboratory
conditions. The results of these evaluations may be
used to identify the most polluted areas.
   Some researchers and managers would prefer that
the sediment triad (sediment chemistry, sediment
toxicity, and benthic communities) be used to
assess sediment condition (poor condition would
require all three elements to be poor), or that poor
sediment condition be determined based on the
joint occurrence of elevated sediment contaminant
concentrations and high sediment toxicity  (see
text box, Alternative Views for a Sediment Quality
Index). However, benthic community attributes are
included in this assessment of coastal condition as
an independent variable rather than as a component
of sediment quality.
          Alternative Views for a Sediment Quality Index
          Some resource managers object to using effects range median (ERM) and effects range low
          (ERL) values to calculate the sediment quality index because the index is also based on actual
          measurements of toxicity.  Because ERMs are defined as the concentration above which negative
          effects are likely to occur in 50% of the samples, these managers believe that the same weight should
          not be given to a non-toxic sample with an ERM exceedance as is given to a sample that is actually
          toxic. O'Connor et al. (1998), using a 1,508-sample EPA and NOAA database, found that 38% of
          ERM exceedances coincided with amphipod toxicity (i.e., were toxic); 13% of the ERL exceedances
          (no ERM exceedance) were toxic; and only 5% of the samples that did not exceed ERL values were
          toxic. O'Connor and Paul (2000) expanded the 1,508-sample data set to 2,475 samples, and the
          results remained relatively unchanged (41% of the ERM exceedances were toxic, and only 5% of the
          nonexceedances were toxic). In a database generated in the EPA National Sediment Quality Survey
          (U.S. EPA,200Id),2,761 samples were evaluated with matching sediment chemistry and 10-day
          amphipod toxicity. Of the 762 samples with at  least one ERM exceedance, 48% were toxic, and of
          the 919  samples without any ERLs exceedances, only 8% were toxic (Ingersoll et al., 2005). These
          data also showed a consistent pattern of increasing incidence of toxicity as the numbers of ERMs
          that were exceeded increased. Although these  analyses are consistent with the narrative intent of
          ERMs to indicate an incidence of toxicity of about 50% and ERLs to indicate an incidence of toxicity
          of about 10%, some researchers and  managers believe that the sediment quality index used in this
          report should not result in a poor rating if sediment contaminant cutpoints are exceeded, but the
          sediment is not shown to be toxic in bioassays.

-------
 . f
'
Guidelines for Assessing
Sediment Contamination (Long
et al., 1995)
ERM (Effects Range Median)—
Determined values for each chemical
as the 50th percentile (median) in a
database of ascending concentrations
associated with adverse biological
effects.
ERL (Effects Range Low)—
Determined values for each chemical
as the I Oth percentile in a database of
ascending concentrations associated
with adverse biological effects.
   In this report, the focus of the sediment quality
index is on sediment condition, not just sediment
toxicity. Attributes of sediments other than toxicity
can result in unacceptable changes in biotic
communities. For example, organic enrichment
through wastewater disposal can have an undesired
effect on biota, and elevated contaminant levels can
have undesirable ecological effects (e.g., changes
in benthic community structure) that are  not
directly related to acute toxicity (as measured by
theAmpelisca test). For these reasons, the  sediment
quality index in this report  uses the combination
of sediment toxicity, sediment contaminants,
and sediment TOC to assess sediment condition.
Sediment condition is assessed as poor (i.e.,
high potential for exposure effects on biota) at
a site if any one of the component indicators is
categorized as poor; assessed as fair if the sediment
contaminants indicator is rated fair; and assessed
as good if all three component indicators  are at
levels that would be unlikely to result in adverse
biological effects due to sediment quality.
Sediment Toxicity
   Researchers applied a standard test of toxicity
at thousands of sites to measure the survival of
amphipods (commonly found, shrimp-like benthic
crustaceans) exposed to sediments for 10 days
under laboratory conditions (U.S. EPA, 1995a).
Survival was measured relative to that of amphipods
exposed to uncontaminated reference sediment.
Although sediment samples from Guam were also
tested with the same amphipod as was used in
other regions, this  toxicity test may not be suitable
in the predominantly sandy sediments. Therefore,
sediment toxicity scores for Guam were determined
differently (see Chapter 9) from the other regions,
and the rating was not included in the national
assessment.
   The cutpoints for rating sediment toxicity based
on amphipod survival for each sampling site are
shown in Table 1-10. Table 1-11 shows how these
site data were used to evaluate sediment toxicity by
region. It should be noted that for this component
indicator, unlike the others outlined in this report,
only a good or poor rating is possible—there is no
fair rating.
                                           Table  1-10. Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
                                           Toxicity by Site
                                            Rating
                         Cutpoints
                                            Good

           The amphipod survival rate is greater than
           or equal to 80% of the control group's
           survival rate.
                                            Poor      The amphipod survival rate is less than 80%
                                                    I  of the control group's survival rate.
                                           Table  l-ll. Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
                                           Toxicity by Region
Rating Cutpoints
Good Less than 5% of the coastal
condition.
area is in poor

                                                                                                                  .1
                                                       Poor      5% or more of the coastal area is in poor
                                                                condition.
                                                                                                            17

-------
        Sediment Contaminants
          There are no absolute chemical concentrations
        that correspond to sediment toxicity, but ERL
        and ERM values (Long et al., 1995) are used as
        guidelines in assessing sediment contamination
        (Table 1-12). ERM is the median concentration
        (50th percentile) of a contaminant observed to
        have adverse biological effects in the literature
        studies examined. A more protective indicator of
        contaminant concentration is the ERL, which is
        the 10th percentile concentration of a contaminant
        represented by studies demonstrating adverse
        biological effects in the literature. The cutpoints
        for rating sediment contaminants at individual
        sampling sites are shown in Table 1-13, and Table
        1-14 shows how these data were used to create
        regional ratings for the sediment contaminants
        component indicator.
        Salt marsh in coastal Oregon (courtesy of Ben Fertig,
        IAN Network).
Table 1-12. ERM and ERL Guidelines for
Sediment (Long et al.,
Metala
Arsenic
Cadmium
Chromium
Copper
Lead
Mercury
Nickel
Silver
Zinc
Acenaphthene
Analyteb
Acenaphthylene
Anthracene
Flourene
2-Methylnaphthalene
Naphthalene
Phenanthrene
Benz(a)anthracene
Benzo(a)pyrene
Chrysene
Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene
Fluoranthene
Pyrene
Low molecular-weight
PAH
High molecular-weight
PAH
Total PAHs
4,4 '-DDE
Total DDT
Total PCBs
a Units are \\glg dry sediment
million (ppm)
b Units are ng/g dry sediment,
(PRb)
1995)
ERL
8.2
1.2
81
34
46.7
0.15
20.9
1
ISO
16
ERL
44
85.3
19
70
160
240
261
430
384
63.4
600
665
552
1,700

4,020
2.2
1.6
22.7
equivalent to
equivalent to

ERM
70
9.6
370
270
218
0.71
51.6
3.7
410
500
ERM
640
1,100
540
670
2,100
1,500
1,600
1,600
2,800
260
5,100
2,600
3,160
9,600

44,800
27
46.1
180
parts per
parts per billion
18

-------
Table 1-13. Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
Contaminants by Site
 Rating
              Cutpoints
 Good

No contaminant concentrations exceeded
the ERM, and fewer than five contaminant
concentrations exceeded ERLs.
 Fair       No contaminant concentrations exceeded
           the ERM, and five or more contaminant
           concentrations exceeded the ERLs.
 Poor      At least one contaminant concentration
           exceeded the ERM.
levels can sometimes result in the release of these
TOC-bound and unavailable contaminants.
Regions of highTOC content are also likely to be
depositional sites for fine sediments. If there are
pollution sources nearby, these depositional sites are
likely to be hot spots for contaminated sediments.
The cutpoints for rating TOC at individual
sampling sites are shown in Table 1-15, and Table
1-16 shows how these data were used to create a
regional ranking.

                                                                                                                 .1
Table 1-14. Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
Contaminants by Region
 Rating
               Criteria

 Good    |  Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor
           condition.
 Fair       5% to 15% of the coastal area is in poor
           condition.
 Poor      More than 15% of the coastal area is in
        I  poor condition.
                                           Table 1-15.  Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
                                           TOC by Site (concentrations on a dry-weight
                                           basis)
                                                      Rating
                                                                   Cutpoints
                                            Good

           The TOC concentration is less than 2%.
                                            Fair       The TOC concentration is between 2% and
                                                     5%.
                                            Poor      The TOC concentration is greater than 5%.
Sediment TOC
   Sediment contaminant availability or organic
enrichment can be altered in areas where there is
considerable deposition of organic matter. Although
TOC exists naturally in coastal sediments and is
the result of the degradation of autochthonous
and allochthonous organic materials (e.g.,
phytoplankton, leaves, twigs, dead organisms),
anthropogenic sources (e.g., organic industrial
wastes, untreated or only primary-treated sewage)
can significantly elevate the level of TOC in
sediments. TOC in coastal sediments is often a
source of food for some benthic organisms, and
high levels of TOC in coastal sediments  can result
in significant changes in benthic community
structure, including dominance of pollution-
tolerant species (Pearson and Rosenberg, 1978).
Increased levels of sediment TOC can also  reduce
the general availability of organic contaminants
(e.g., PAHs, PCBs, pesticides); however, increases
in temperature or decreases in dissolved  oxygen
                                           Table 1-16.  Cutpoints for Assessing Sediment
                                           TOC by Region
Rating Cutpoints
Good 1 Less than 20% of the coastal
condition.
area is in poor
                                            Fair       20% to 30% of the coastal area is in poor
                                                     condition.
                                            Poor      More than 30% of the coastal area  is in
                                                   I poor condition.
                                           Calculating the Sediment Quality Index
                                             Once all three sediment quality component
                                           indicators (sediment toxicity, sediment
                                           contaminants, and sediment TOC) are assessed
                                           for a given site, a sediment quality index rating is
                                           calculated for the site. The sediment quality index
                                           was rated good, fair, or poor for each site using
                                           the cutpoints shown in Table 1-17- The sediment
                                           quality index was then calculated for each region
                                           using the cutpoints shown in Table 1-18.
                                                                                                           19

-------
        Table  1-17. Cutpoints for Determining the
        Sediment Quality Index by Site
         Rating
                        Cutpoints
         Good

          None of the individual component indica-
          tors is rated poor, and the sediment con-
          taminants indicator is rated good.
         Fair
          None of the component indicators is rated
          poor, and the sediment contaminants indica-
          tor is rated fair.
Poor      One or more of the component indicators
                   is rated poor.
        Table  1-18. Cutpoints for Determining the
        Sediment Quality Index by Region
         Rating
                        Cutpoints

         Good     Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor
                   condition, and more than 50% of the coastal
                   area is in good condition.
         Fair       5% to 15% of the coastal area is in poor
                   condition, or 50% or less of the coastal area
                   is in good condition.
         Poor      More than 15% of the coastal area is in
                 I  poor condition.
              Benthic Index
           The worms, clams, mollusks, crustaceans,
        and other invertebrates that inhabit the bottom
        substrates of coastal waters are collectively called
        benthic macroinvertebrates, or benthos. These
        organisms play a vital role in maintaining sediment
        and water quality and are an important food
        source for bottom-feeding fish; shrimp; ducks; and
        marsh birds. Benthos are often used as indicators
        of disturbance in coastal  environments because
        they are not very mobile  and thus cannot avoid
        environmental problems. Benthic population and
        community characteristics are  sensitive to chemical-
        contaminant and dissolved-oxygen stresses, salinity
        fluctuations, and sediment disturbance and serve
        as reliable indicators of coastal environmental
        quality. To distinguish degraded benthic habitats
        from natural, healthy benthic habitats, EMAP
        and the NCA have developed regional (Southeast,
        Northeast, and Gulf coasts) benthic indices of
environmental condition (Engle et al., 1994;
Weisberg et al., 1997; Engle and Summers, 1999;
Van Dolah et al., 1999; Paul et al., 2001; Hale and
Heltshe, 2008). These indices reflect changes in
benthic community diversity and the abundance of
pollution-tolerant and pollution-sensitive species.
A high benthic index rating for benthos means
that sediment samples taken from a waterbody
contain a wide variety of benthic species, as well as
a low proportion of pollution-tolerant species and
a high proportion of pollution-sensitive species. A
low benthic index rating indicates that the benthic
communities are less diverse than expected, are
populated by more  pollution-tolerant species than
expected, and contain fewer pollution-sensitive
species than expected. The benthic condition data
presented throughout this report were collected
by the NCA unless  otherwise noted. Indices vary
by region because species assemblages depend on
prevailing temperatures, salinities, and the silt-clay
content of sediments. The benthic index was rated
poor at  a site when  the index values fell below a
certain threshold.
   Not all regions included in this report have
developed benthic indices. Indices for the West
Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam,
Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are under
development and were unavailable for reporting
at this time. In these regions, benthic community
diversity or species richness were determined
for each site as surrogates for the benthic index.
Values for diversity  or richness were compared
with salinity regionally to determine if a significant
relationship existed. This relationship was not
significant for Southeastern Alaska and Hawaii,
and no surrogate benthic index was developed;
therefore, benthic community condition was not
assessed for these regions. For West Coast estuaries,
a highly significant  (p < 0.0001) linear regression
between log species richness and salinity was found
for the region, although variability was high (R2
= 0.33). A surrogate benthic index was calculated
by determining the  expected species richness from
the statistical relationship to salinity and then
calculating the ratio of observed to expected species
richness. Poor condition was defined as less than
20

-------
75% of the expected benthic species richness at
a particular salinity. A provisional assignment of
benthic community condition for Guam was made
by inspection of benthic community indicators,
such as soft sediment infaunal species richness and
total abundance. A regression of species richness
versus  percent fines in the sediments indicated
that a significant negative relationship was present.
Sediments with more than 10% fines generally
had decreased species richness and abundance,
sometimes markedly so. Break points in the
distribution of species richness and total abundance
were used to  assign condition scores. For example,
stations with species richness less than 12/sample
and abundance less than 50/sample were considered
in poor condition. The data from Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Virgin Islands showed no significant
                            relationship between benthic diversity or species
                            richness and salinity; however, a different approach
                            was used to assess benthic condition in this region.
                            Benthic diversity (H') was used as a surrogate
                            for a benthic index for Puerto Rico and the U.S.
                            Virgin Islands by determining the mean and 95%
                            confidence limits for diversity in unstressed benthic
                            habitats (i.e., sites with no sediment contaminants,
                            lowTOC, and absence of hypoxia). Poor benthic
                            condition was then defined as observed diversity
                            less than 75% of the lower 95% confidence limit of
                            mean diversity for  unstressed habitats. Benthic data
                            were not collected  for American Samoa. Table 1-19
                            shows the good, fair, and poor rating cutpoints for
                            the different regions of the country, which were
                            used to calculate an overall benthic condition rating
                            for each region.

                                                              .1
Table  1-19. Cutpoints for Assessing the Benthic Index
           Area                      Good
                                      Fair
Northeast Coast sites
Acadian Province
Virginian Province
Southeast Coast sites
Gulf Coast sites
West Coast sites
(compared to expected
diversity)
Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii,
and American Samoa sites
Guam sites
Benthic index score
is greater than or
equal to 5.0.
Benthic index score
is greater than 0.0.
Benthic index score
is greater than 2.5.
Benthic index score
is greater than 5.0.
Benthic index score is
more than 90% of the
lower limit (lower 95% con-
fidence interval) of expected
mean diversity
for a specific salinity.
NAb
Species richness is greater
Benthic index score is
greater than or equal to
4.0 and less than 5.0.
NAa
Benthic index score is
between 2.0 and 2.5.
Benthic index score is
between 3.0 and 5.0.
Benthic index score is
between 75% and 90%
of the lower limit of
expected mean diversity
for a specific salinity.
NAb
Either species richness or
Benthic index score
is less than 4.0.
Benthic index score
is less than 0.0.
Benthic index score is
less than 2.0.
Benthic index score is
less than 3.0.
Benthic index score is less
than 75% of the lower
limit of expected mean
diversity for a specific
salinity.
NAb
Species richness is less
                           than 20 per sample, and abun-
                           dance is greater than 100 per
                                     sample.
                             abundance is in the good
                            range, and neither indicator
                               is in the poor range
                           than 12 per sample, and
                          abundance is less than 50
                                 per sample.
 Puerto Rico and U.S.Virgin
 Islands sites
 (compared to upper 95%
 confidence interval for
 mean regional benthic
 diversity)
 Benthic index score is more
   than 90% of the lower
 limit (lower 95% confidence
 interval) of mean diversity in
    unstressed habitats.
 Benthic index score is be-
tween 75% and 90% of the
 lower limit of mean diver-
 sity in unstressed habitats.
Benthic index score is less
  than 75% of the lower
 limit of mean diversity in
   unstressed habitats.
 Regions
 Less than 10% of the coastal
area is in poor condition, and
more than 50% of the coastal
  area is in good condition.
 10% to 20% of the coastal
area is in poor conditioner
 50% or less of the coastal
  area is good condition.
  More than 20% of the
  coastal area is in poor
       condition.
a By design, this index discriminates between good and poor conditions only.
b Benthic condition was not assessed in these regions.
                                                                                                              21

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              Coastal Habitat Index
           Coastal wetlands are the vegetated interface
        between the aquatic and terrestrial components
        of coastal ecosystems and serve many purposes.
        Wetlands are beneficial because they can filter and
        process  residential, agricultural, and industrial
        wastes, thereby improving surface water quality.
        Wetlands buffer coastal areas against storm and
        wave damage. Wetland habitats are critical to the
        life cycles offish, shellfish, migratory birds, and
        other wildlife. Many species of commercial and
        sport fish spend a portion of their life cycles in
        coastal wetland and estuarine habitats. Adult stocks
        of commercially harvested shrimp, blue crabs,
        oysters,  and other species throughout the United
        States are directly related to wetland quality and
        quantity (Turner and Boesch, 1988).
           Wetlands throughout the United States have
        been and are being rapidly destroyed  by human
        activities (e.g., flood control, agriculture, waste
        disposal, real estate development, shipping,
        commercial fishing, oil/ gas exploration and
        production) and natural processes (e.g., sea-level
        rise, sediment compaction, droughts, subsidence,
        hurricanes, floods). In the late 1970s  and early
        1980s, the  country was losing wetlands at an
        estimated rate of almost 300,000 acres per year
        (Dahl et al., 1991). The Clean Water Act, state
        wetland protection programs, and programs such
        as Swampbuster (U.S. Department of Agriculture
        [USDA]), have helped decrease wetland losses
        to an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 acres per year.
        Strong wetland protection is important nationally;
        otherwise, fisheries that support more than a
        million  jobs and contribute billions of dollars
        to the national economy are at risk (Turner and
        Boesch, 1988; Stedman and Hanson, 2000), as
        are the ecological functions provided  by wetlands
        (e.g., nursery areas, flood control, water quality
        improvement).
           Coastal wetlands,  as defined here, include only
        estuarine and marine intertidal wetlands (e.g., salt
        and brackish marshes; mangroves  and other shrub
        scrub habitats; intertidal oyster reefs;  tidal flats,
        such as macroalgal flats, shoals, spits,  and bars).
This index does not include subtidal SAV, coral
reefs, subtidal oyster reefs, worm reefs, artificial
reefs, or freshwater/palustrine wetlands (except
for those associated with the Great Lakes). The
data for the coastal habitat index were derived
from the NWI S&T program (http://www.fws.
gov/wetlands/Status-and-Trends/index.html for
more information). The NWI S&T program
employs rigorous, standardized survey methods
to provide periodic estimates of the status and
trends in wetland acreage for the United States
(Dahl, 2011). Because the NWI S&T assessments
are based on remotely sensed imagery, there are
inherent limitations in the ability to detect certain
kinds of wetlands (e.g., small wetlands less than
one acre, submerged wetlands, and certain forested
wetlands) (Dahl, 2011). It should be noted that
the NWI S&T data used in this assessment do not
distinguish between natural and created wetlands
and that most created wetlands do not have all the
functions of natural wetlands (NAS, 2001). For
more information about wetlands, refer to EPA's
wetlands web site at http://www.epa.gov/owow/
wetlands.
   Estimates of estuarine intertidal wetland acreage
from 1990 and 2000 for all coastal states in the
Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast regions
have not changed since the NCCR III. Gulf
Coast wetland area estimates were updated for
1998 and 2004 from Stedman and Dahl (2008).
Coastal wetland acreage for Alaska represents
the entire state (not just the Southeastern Alaska
region). Data on wetland area were not available
for American Samoa or Guam, and data on recent
changes in wetland  area were not available for
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Recent coastal wetland loss was estimated as the
proportional change in regional coastal wetland
area  over the most recent decade. The historic,
long-term, decadal loss rate was calculated as the
proportion of total wetland acreage change from
1780 to 1980, divided by the number of decades
(this represents all wetlands in coastal states, not
just coastal wetlands; Dahl, 1990). The regional
value of the coastal habitat index was calculated
as the average of these two loss rates (historic and
recent). The national value of the coastal habitat
22

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index is a weighted mean that reflects the most
recent estimate of the extent of wetlands existing in
each region, which is different than the distribution
of the extent of coastal area. Table 1-20 shows the
rating cutpoints used for the coastal habitat index.
Although a 1% loss rate per decade may seem small
(or even acceptable), continued wetland losses at
this rate cannot be sustained indefinitely and still
leave enough wetlands  to maintain their present
ecological functions.
Table  1-20. Cutpoints for Determining the
Coastal Habitat Index
 Rating
              Cutpoints
 Good

The index value is less than 1.0.
 Fair
The index value is between 1.0 and 1.25.
 Poor
The index value is greater than 1.25.
   The NWI S&T estimates represent regional
assessments and do not apply to individual sites
or individual wetlands. Before individual wetland
sites can be assessed, rigorous methodologies
for estimating the quantity and the quality of
wetlands must be developed. Until these methods
are available and implemented, only regional
assessments of quantity losses can be made.
Although a 1% loss rate per decade may seem small
(or even acceptable), continued wetland losses at
this rate cannot be sustained indefinitely and still
leave enough wetlands to maintain their present
ecological functions.
                                                 Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   Chemical contaminants may enter a marine
organism in several ways: direct uptake from
contaminated water, consumption of contaminated
sediment, or consumption of previously
contaminated organisms. Once these contaminants
enter an organism, they tend to remain in the
animal's tissues and may build  up over time. When
predators consume contaminated organisms, they
may accumulate the levels of contaminants in the
organisms they consume. The same accumulation
of contaminants may occur when humans consume
fish with contaminated tissues. Contaminant
residues can be examined in the fillets, whole-body
portions, or specific organs of target fish, shellfish,
or other (e.g., sea cucumbers) species and compared
with EPA risk-based advisory guidance values (U.S.
EPA, 2000c)  for use in establishing fish advisories.
   For the NCA surveys, fish sampling was
conducted at all  monitoring stations where this
activity was feasible. At all sites where sufficient
fish tissue was obtained, contaminant burdens were
determined in fillet or whole-body samples. The
target species typically included demersal (bottom-
dwelling) and slower-moving pelagic (water
column-dwelling) species (e.g., finfish, shrimp,
lobster, crab,  sea cucumbers; collectively referred
to as "fish" in this report) that are representative
of each of the geographic regions (Northeast
Coast, Southeast Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast,
           The NWI S&T estimates represent regional assessments and do not apply to individual sites or
           individual wetlands. There are agencies and organizations addressing wetland status and trends at
           local, regional, and national levels. Efforts are also underway to improve how wetland conditions
           and losses are tracked at multiple spatial scales.  Although no updates can be provided at this time
           for the coastal habitat index, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) developed a report (Stedman
           and Dahl, 2008) on coastal wetland trends for the eastern United States. This report is available
           online at http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Status-and-Trends/index.html. The EPA and its partners are
           also working on the first-ever national survey on the condition of the U.S. wetlands. The survey
           will be designed to provide regional and national estimates of the ecological integrity and biological
           condition of wetlands. The report is due to be released in 201 3. For more information, see http://
           www.epa.gov/Wetlands/survey/.

                                                                                                        .1
                                                                                                            23

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        Southeastern Alaska, American Samoa, and Guam).
        These intermediate, trophic-level (position in the
        food web) species are often prey for larger predatory
        fish of commercial value (Harvey et al., 2008).
        Where available, 4 to 10 individual fish from each
        target species at each sampling site  were analyzed by
        compositing fish tissues from the same species.
           Although the EPA risk-based advisory guidance
        values were developed to evaluate the health risks
        of consuming market-sized fish fillets, they also
        may be used to assess the risk of contaminants in
        whole-body fish samples as a basis for estimating
        advisory determinations—an approach currently
        used by many state fish advisory programs (U.S.
        EPA, 2000c). Under the NCA program, EPA
        is also using these advisory guidance values as
        surrogate benchmark values for fish health in the
        absence of comprehensive  ecological thresholds for
        contaminant levels in juvenile and  adult fish. The
        NCA compared contaminant concentrations in
        whole-body and fillet samples to the EPA advisory
        guidance values used by states as a basis for setting
        fish advisories for recreational fishers  (Table 1-21)
        (U.S. EPA, 2000c). This comparison provides
        an assessment of the potential exposure offish
        populations to biologically available contaminants
        in the environment. The reader should also refer to
        the text box in the National Listing of Fish Advisories
        section of this chapter for further explanation of
        the differences between the fish tissue contaminants
        index and state fish consumption advisories.
           The rating for each site was based on the
        measured concentrations of these contaminants
        within the fish tissue samples; see Table 1-22 for the
        fish tissue contaminants index site-rating cutpoints.
        For example, the risk-based EPA advisory guidance
        values for mercury range from 0.12 to 0.23 parts
        per million (ppm) of mercury in fish tissue. If the
        NCA measured a concentration in  fish that was  less
        than 0.12 ppm of mercury, then the monitoring
        station from which the fish were caught was rated
        good. If the contaminant concentration was within
        the guidance value range, the monitoring station
        was rated fair, and if the mercury concentration
exceeded 0.23 ppm, then the monitoring station
where the fish were caught was rated poor.  Unlike
the other indices and component indicators where
regional ratings were based on the percent of the
service area in a particular rating category, the
regional rating for the fish tissue contaminants
index was based on the percentage of monitoring
stations, where fish were caught, that were  in poor
or fair condition.  The fish tissue contaminants
index regional rating was based on percent of sites
rather than percent area because target fish species
were not caught at a large proportion of sites in
each region, which invalidated the computation
of percent area and associated uncertainty. Table
1-23 shows how these ratings were used to create a
regional index rating.
Elephant seals (Mimunga angustimstri) on a beach along
Big Sur; CA (courtesy of Jane Thomas, IAN Network).
24

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Table 1-21.  Risk-based EPA Advisory
Guidance Values for Recreational Fishers
(U.S.EPA,2000c)

Contaminant
Arsenic (inorganic)b
Cadmium
Mercury
(methylmercury)c
Selenium
Chlordane
DDT
Dieldrin
Endosulfan
Endrin
Heptachlor epoxide
Hexachlorobenzene
Lindane
Mi rex
Toxaphene
PAHs (benzo(a)
pyrene)
PCB
EPA Advisory
Guidance
Concentration
Range (ppm)a
0.35-0.70
0.35-0.7
0. 1 2-0.23
5.9-12.0
0.59-1.2
0.059-0. \ 2
0.059-0. 1 2
7.0-14.0
0.35-0.70
0.015-0.031
0.94-1.9
0.35-0.70
0.23-0.47
0.29-0.59
0.0016-0.0032
0.023-0.047

Health
Endpoint
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
non-cancer
cancel
non-cancer
a Range of concentrations associated with non-cancer and
  cancer health endpoint risk for consumption of four
  8-ounce fish meals per month.
b Inorganic arsenic concentrations were estimated to be 2%
  of the measured total arsenic concentrations (U.S. EPA,
  2000b).
cThe conservative assumption  was made that all mercury is
  present as methylmercury because most mercury in fish
  and shellfish is present primarily as methylmercury and
  because analysis for total mercury is less expensive than
  analysis for methylmercury (U.S. EPA, 2000b).
d A non-cancer concentration range for PAHs does not
  exist.
Table 1-22.  Cutpoints for Determining the Fish
Tissue Contaminants Index by Station
                                                         Rating
                          Cutpoints
                                                         Good   |  For all chemical contaminants listed in
                                                                   Table 1-21, the measured concentrations in
                                                                   fish tissue fall below the range of the  EPA
                                                                   advisory guidance3 values for risk-based
                                                                   consumption associated with four 8-ounce
                                                                   meals per month.

                                                         Fair       For at least one chemical contaminant listed
                                                                   in Table 1-21, the measured concentration
                                                                   in fish tissue falls within the range of the
                                                                   EPA advisory guidance values for risk-based
                                                                   consumption associated with four 8-ounce
                                                                   meals per month.

                                                         Poor      For at least one chemical contaminant listed
                                                                   in Table 1-21, the measured concentrations
                                                                   in fish tissue exceeds the maximum value in
                                                                   the range of the EPA advisory guidance val-
                                                                   ues for risk-based consumption associated
                                                                   with four 8-ounce meals per month.

                                                        *The EPA advisory guidance concentration is based on
                                                         the non-cancer ranges for all contaminants except the
                                                         concentration for PAHs (benzo(a)pyrene), which is based on
                                                         a cancer range because a non-cancer range for PAHs does
                                                         not exist (see Table  1-21).


                                                        Table  1-23. Cutpoints for  Determining the Fish
                                                        Tissue Contaminants Index by Region
                                                         Rating
                          Cutpoints
 Good  | Less than  10% of the monitoring stations
           where fish were caught are in poor
           condition, and more than 50% of the
           monitoring stations where fish were caught
           are in good condition.

 Fair       10% to 20% of the monitoring stations
           where fish were caught are in poor
           condition, or  50% or less of the monitoring
           stations where fish were caught are in good
           condition.
 Poor

More than 20% of the monitoring stations
where fish were caught are in poor
condition.
Summary of Rating Cutpoints

   The rating outpoints used in this report are
summarized in Table 1-24 (primary indices) and
Tables 1-25 and 1-26 (component indicators).

                                                                                                                        .1
                                                                                                                 25

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           Table 1-24. NCA Indices Used to Assess Coastal Condition
              Icon
             Water
             Quality
              Index
            Sediment
             Quality
              Index
             Coastal
             Habitat
              Index
Water Quality Index -This index is based on measurements of five water quality component indicators
(DIN, DIP chlorophyll a, water clarity and dissolved oxygen).
Ecological Condition by Site
Good: No component indicators are rated poor,
      and a maximum of one is rated fair
Fair:  One component indicator is rated poor,
      or two or more component indicators are
      rated fair
Poor: Two or more component indicators are
      rated poor
Ranking by Region
Good: Less than 10% of the coastal area is in poor condition, and
      more than 50% of the coastal area is in good condition.
Fair:   Between 10% and 20% of the coastal area is in poor
      condition, or 50% or less of the coastal area is in good
      condition.
Poor:  More than 20% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
                       Sediment Quality Index -This index is based on measurements of three sediment quality component indicators
                       (sediment toxicity sediment contaminants, and sedimentTOC).
Ecological Condition by Site
Good: No component indicators are rated poor,
      and the sediment contaminants indicator is
      rated good.
Fair:  No component indicators are rated poor,
      and the sediment contaminants indicator is
      rated fair
Poor: One or more component indicators are
      rated poor
Ranking by Region
Good: Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor condition, and
      more than 50% of the coastal area is in good condition.

Fair:   Between 5% and 15% of the coastal area is in poor
      condition, or 50% or less of the coastal area is in good
      condition.
Poor:  More than 15% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
                       Benthic Index (or a surrogate measure) —This index indicates the condition of the benthic community (organisms living
                       in coastal sediments) and can include measures of benthic community diversity, the presence and abundance of pollution-
                       tolerant species, and the presence and abundance of pollution-sensitive species.
                       Ecological Condition by Site
                       Good, fair, and poor and were determined using
                       regionally dependent benthic index scores
                       (see Table 1-19).
                                                 Ranking by Region
                                                 Good: Less than 10% of the coastal area is in poor condition, and
                                                       more than 50% of the coastal area is in good condition.

                                                 Fair:   Between  10% and 20% of the coastal area is in poor
                                                       condition, or 50% or less of the coastal area is in good
                                                       condition.
                                                 Poor:  More than 20% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
                       Coastal Habitat Index-This index is based on historic (1780-1980) and recent (1990-2000) data on estuarine
                       intertidal wetland acreage for all coastal states (except American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
Ecological Condition by Site
The average of the mean long-term, decadal
wetland loss rate (1780-1990) and the present
decadal wetland loss rate (1990-2000) was
determined for each region of the United States
to create a coastal habitat index value.
Ranking by Region
Good: The coastal habitat index value is less than 1.0.
Fair:   The coastal habitat index value is between 1.0 and 1.25.
Poor:  The coastal habitat index value is greater than 1.25.
                       Fish Tissue Contaminants Index-This index indicates the level of chemical contamination in target fish/shellfish
              Fish
             Tissue
          Contaminants
              Index
species.
Ecological Condition by Site
Good: For all chemical contaminants listed inTable
       1-21, the measured concentrations in tissue
      fall below the range of the EPA advisory
      guidancea values for risk-based consumption
      associated with four 8-ounce meals per
      month.
Fair:  For at least one chemical contaminant listed
      in Table  1-21, the measured concentration
      in tissue falls within the range of the EPA
      advisory guidance values for risk-based
      consumption associated with four 8-ounce
      meals per month.
Poor: For at least one chemical contaminant listed
      in Table  1-21, the measured concentration
      in tissue exceeds the maximum value in the
      range of the EPA advisory guidance values
      for risk-based consumption associated with
      four 8-ounce meals per month.
Ranking by Region
Good: Less than 10% of the monitoring stations where fish were
      caught are in poor condition, and more than 50% of the
      monitoring stations where fish were caught are in good
      condition.
                                                                        Fair:    10% to 20% of the monitoring stations where fish were
                                                                              caught are in poor condition, or 50% or less of the
                                                                              monitoring stations where fish were caught are good
                                                                              condition.
                                                                        Poor:  More than 20% of the monitoring stations where fish were
                                                                              caught are in poor condition.
          3 The EPA advisory guidance concentration is based on the non-cancer ranges for all contaminants except for PAHs (benzo(a)pyrene), which is based
           on a cancer range because a non-cancer range for PAHs does not exist (see Table 1-21).
26

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 Table 1-25. NCA Criteria for the Five Component Indicators Used in the Water Quality Index to
 Assess Coastal Condition
 Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN)

                Ecological Condition by Site
                  Ranking by Region
 Good: Surface concentrations are less than 0.1 mg/L (Northeast,
 Southeast, Gulf Guama), 0.35 mg/L (West, Alaska, American Samoa), or
 0.05 mg/L (tropicalb).
Good:  Less than  10% of the coastal area is in poor
condition, and more than 50% of the coastal area is in good
condition.
 Fair:  Surface concentrations are 0.1-0.5 mg/L (Northeast, Southeast,
 Gulf, Guam), 0.35-0.5 mg/L (West, Alaska, American Samoa), or 0.05
 —0.1 mg/L (tropical).
Fair:  10% to 25% of the coastal area is in poor condition, or
50% or less of the coastal area is in good condition.
 Poor:  Surface concentrations are greater than 0.5 mg/L (Northeast,
 Southeast, Gulf Guam, West, Alaska, American Samoa) or 0.1 mg/L
 (tropical).
Poor: More than 25% of the coastal area is in poor
condition.
 Dissolved Inorganic Phosphorus (DIP)
                 Ecological Condition by Site
                  Ranking by Region
 Good: Surface concentrations are less than 0.01  mg/L (Northeast,
 Southeast, Gulf), 0.025 mg/L (Guam), 0.07 mg/L (West, Alaska,
 American Samoa), or 0.005 mg/L (tropical).
Good:  Less than  10% of the coastal area is in poor
condition, and more than 50% of the coastal area is in
condition.
 Fair:  Surface concentrations are 0.01-0.05 mg/L (Northeast,
 Southeast, Gulf), 0.025-0.1 mg/L (Guam), 0.07-0.1 mg/L (West, Alaska,
 American Samoa), or 0.005—0.01  mg/L (tropical).
Fair:  10% to 25% of the coastal area is in poor condition, or
50% or less of the coastal area is in good condition.
 Poor:  Surface concentrations are greater than 0.05 mg/L (Northeast,
 Southeast, Gulf), 0.1  mg/L (Guam, West, Alaska, American Samoa), or
 0.01 mg/L (tropical).
Poor: More than 25% of the coastal area is in poor
condition.
 Chlorophyll a
                 Ecological Condition by Site
                  Ranking by Region
 Good: Surface concentrations are less than 5 pg/L (less than 0.5 pg/L
 for American Samoa, Guam, tropical ecosystems).
Good:  Less than  10% of the coastal area is in poor
condition, and more than 50% of the coastal area is in good
condition.
 Fair:  Surface concentrations are between 5 |jg/L and 20 |jg/L
 (between 0.5 |jg/L and  I |jg/L for American Samoa, Guam, tropical
 ecosystems).
Fair:  10% to 20% of the coastal area is in poor condition, or
50% or less of the coastal area is in good condition.
 Poor:  Surface concentrations are greater than 20 pg/L (greater than
 Mg/L for American Samoa, Guam, tropical ecosystems).
Poor: More than 20% of the coastal area is in poor
condition.
 Water Clarity
                 Ecological Condition by Site
                  Ranking by Region
 Good: Amount of light at I  meter is greater than 10% (coastal waters
 with high turbidity), 20% (coastal waters with normal turbidity), or 40%
 (coastal waters that support SAV) of surface illumination.
Good:  Less than  10% of the coastal area is in poor
condition, and more than 50% of the coastal area is in good
condition.
 Fair: Amount of light at I  meter is 5-10% (coastal waters with high
 turbidity), 10-20% (coastal waters with normal turbidity), or 20-40%
 (coastal waters that support SAV) of surface illumination.
Fair:  10% to 25% of the coastal area is in poor condition, or
50% or less of the coastal area is in combined fair and poor
condition.
 Poor: Amount of light at I  meter is less than 5% (coastal waters with
 high turbidity), 10% (coastal waters with normal turbidity), or 20%
 (coastal waters that support SAV) of surface illumination.
Poor: More than 25% of the coastal area is in poor
condition.
 Dissolved Oxygen
                 Ecological Condition by Site
                  Ranking by Region
 Good:  Bottom-water concentrations (or surface-water concentrations
 in Alaska) are greater than 5 mg/L.
Good:  Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor condition,
and more than 50% of the coastal area is in good condition.
 Fair:  Bottom-water concentrations (or surface-water concentrations
 in Alaska) are between 2 mg/L and 5 mg/L.
Fair:  5% to 15% of the coastal area is in poor condition, or
50% or less of the coastal area is in good condition.
 Poor:  Bottom-water concentrations (or surface-water concentrations
 in Alaska) are less than 2 mg/L.
Poor: More than 15% of the coastal area is in poor
condition.
a Nutrients in Guam were assessed using nitrate-nitrogen rather than DIN.
b Tropical ecosystems include Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S.Virgin Islands, and Florida Bay sites.

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                                                                                                                                27

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          Table  1-26.  NCA Cutpoints for the Three Component Indicators Used in the Sediment Quality
          Index  to Assess Coastal Condition
          SedimentToxicity Toxicity is evaluated as part of the sediment quality index using a 10-day static toxicity test with the organism
          Ampelisca abdita.
                       Ecological Condition by Site
                 Ranking by Region
          Good: Mortalitya is less than or equal to 20% of the control
          group's mortality rate.
Good: Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
          Poor: Mortality is greater than 20% of the control group's
          mortality rate.
Poor: 5% or more of the coastal area is in poor condition.
          Sediment Contaminants is evaluated as part of the sediment quality index using ERM and ERL values.
                       Ecological Condition by Site
                 Ranking by Region
          Good: No contaminant concentrations exceed the ERM, and fewer
          than five contaminant concentrations exceed ERL values.
Good: Less than 5% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
          Fair: No contaminant concentrations exceed the ERM, and five or
          more contaminant concentrations exceed ERL values.
Fair: 5% to 15% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
          Poor: One or more contaminant concentrations exceeds the
          ERM.
Poor: More than 15% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
SedimentTotal Organic Carbon (TOC)
Ecological Condition by Site
Good: The TOC concentration is less than 2%.
Fair: TheTOC concentration is between 2% and 5%.
Poor: TheTOC concentration is greaterthan 5%.
Ranking by Region
Good: Less than 20% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
Fair: 20% to 30% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
Poor: More than 30% of the coastal area is in poor condition.
aTest mortality is adjusted for control mortality.
         How the Indices Are  Summarized
            Overall condition for each region was calculated
         by summing the scores for the available indices
         and dividing by the number of available indices
         (i.e., equally weighted), where good = 5; good to
         fair = 4; fair = 3; fair to poor = 2; and poor = 1.  In
         calculating the overall condition score for a region,
         the indices are weighted  equally because of the lack
         of a defendable, more-than-conceptual rationale for
         uneven weighting. The Southeast Coast region,  for
         example, received the following scores:
          Water Quality Index
          Sediment Quality Index
          Benthic Index
          Coastal Habitat Index
          Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
          Total Score Divided by 5 = Overall Score   18/5 = 3.6
                                                                   Double-crested cormorant (courtesy of U.S. FWS).
28

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   The overall condition and index scores for the
nation are calculated based on an areally weighted
average of the regional scores for each index. The
national ratings for overall condition and each
index are then assigned based on these calculated
scores, rather than on the percentage of area in
good, fair, or poor condition. The indices were
weighted based on the coastal area contributed by
each geographic area. For example, the weighted
average for the water quality index was calculated
by summing the products  of the regional water
quality index scores and the proportional area
contributed by each region (Figure 1-4). These
weighting factors  were used for all indices except
the coastal habitat index, which used the geographic
distribution of total area of coastal wetlands (Figure
1-5). The national overall condition score was then
calculated by summing each national index score
and dividing by five. Rating scores are based on
a 5-point system,  where a score of less than 2.0 is
rated poor; 2.0 to less than 2.4 is rated fair to  poor;
2.4 to less than 3-7 is rated fair; 3-7 to 4.0 is rated
good to fair; and greater than 4.0 is rated good.
         (Hawaii <

      Southeastern
         Alaska
         25%
(Island Territories

      Great Lakes
         21%
                                  Northeast
                                    Coast
                                     19%
           Gulf Coast
             20%
    West Coast
       4%
                       Great Lakes
                          7%
                               Northeast Coast
                                    6%

                                   Southeast
                                     Coast
                                      14%
                       Gulf Coast
                         43%
Figure 1-5.  Percentage of coastal wetland area
contributed by each geographic region assessed in this
report (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Trends of Coastal Monitoring

Data
   Trends in coastal condition are presented in the
regions (i.e., Northeast Coast, Southeast Coast,
Gulf Coast, West Coast, Hawaii, and Puerto
Rico) where sufficient data were available for this
analysis. Trends in the proportion of coastal area
that was rated poor for each index and indicator
were evaluated for each region by comparing
annual estimates or estimates for specific time
periods. The statistical significance of trends was
determined using the Mann Kendall test. The
statistical significance of any observed difference in
the estimates of poor condition between two time
periods was determined by performing pair-wise
comparisons of the 95% confidence intervals (i.e.,
estimated error) on the proportion of area rated
poor.

                                                                                           .1
Figure 1-4.  Percentage of coastal area contributed by
each geographic region assessed in this report (U.S.
EPA/NCA)
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        Coastal Ocean Monitoring
        Data
           The newest addition to the NCCR series,
        resulting from a collaboration between NOAA
        and the EPA, is the presentation of coastal ocean
        monitoring data for the Mid-Atlantic Bight, South
        Atlantic Bight, and the West Coast. These surveys
        may be regarded as an extension of the NCA efforts
        in estuaries and coastal embayments to offshore
        areas, where such information has been limited
        in the past. Samples were collected from offshore
        coastal ocean waters (the area between estuaries
        and the outward boundaries of the continental
        shelf) for 49 stations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight
        in 2006, 50 stations in the South Atlantic Bight
        in 2004, and 257 stations on the West Coast in
        2003- The assessments employed the methodologies
        (e.g., probabilistic-sampling design) and many of
        the same indices and component indicators used
        throughout the EMAP/NCA projects and presented
        in the NCCRs, including indices and component
        indicators  for water quality, sediment quality,
        benthic condition, and fish tissue contaminants.
        Using the NCA methods and indices allows
        statistically valid and meaningful comparisons
        between the condition of estuarine and adjacent
        coastal ocean waters. The results of these coastal
        ocean surveys are intended to serve as a baseline for
        monitoring potential changes in these indicators
        over time, due to either human or natural factors.
        The consistent sampling of these variables across
        such a large number of stations provides an
        opportunity for learning more about the spatial
        patterns of near-coastal resources and the processes
        controlling their distributions, including potential
        associations between the presence of stressors and
        biological responses.
           For coastal ocean waters, the water quality index
        was not assessed as a whole; however, the same five
        component indicators  were assessed: DIN, DIP,
        chlorophyll a, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen.
        Although no indicator rating cutpoints exist for
        coastal ocean levels of DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,
        and dissolved oxygen, the measured values for these
indicators were compared to the NCA cutpoints to
determine the percentage of coastal ocean area in
good, fair, or poor condition for each component
indicator for comparison purposes. DIN/DIP ratios
were calculated as an indicator of which nutrient
may be controlling primary production. A ratio
above 16 is indicative of phosphorus limitation,
whereas a ratio below 16 is indicative of nitrogen
limitation (Geider and La Roche, 2002).
   The concentration of total suspended solids
(TSS) was used to assess the water clarity
component indicator in coastal ocean waters.
Although not a measure of turbidity per se, the
amount of TSS in the water column has a direct
effect on water clarity by causing the scattering or
attenuation of light. As the concentration of TSS
increases, the water becomes more cloudy or turbid.
Excessive turbidity and TSS in the water column
can be harmful to marine ecosystems and detract
from the aesthetic quality of coastal areas. TSS
levels were also measured in estuarine waters as part
of the NCA, but TSS is not used to assess the water
clarity component indicator in estuaries.
   The sediment contaminants and sediment TOC
component indicators were used to assess sediment
condition in coastal ocean waters. Neither the
sediment quality index as a whole nor the sediment
toxicity contaminant component indicator was
assessed in coastal ocean waters. The sediment
contaminants component indicator was assessed
by comparing concentrations of the same suite of
sediment contaminants (e.g., metals, pesticides,
PAHs, PCBs) measured in other EMAP/NCA
studies, including the 2003—2006 estuarine surveys
contaminants, with ERM and ERL values (Long
et al., 1995). In the absence of rating cutpoints
specific to coastal ocean sediments, the NCA
cutpoints were used to determine the percentage of
coastal ocean area in each rating category. Sediment
TOC was assessed based on sediment grain size
and the concentrations of TOC in the sediment
samples.  High levels of TOC in sediments can serve
as an indicator of adverse conditions and are often
associated with increasing proportions of finer-
grained sediment particles (i.e., silt—clay fraction)
30

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that tend to provide greater surface area for
sorption of both organic matter and other chemical
pollutants. Although organic matter in sediments
is an important source of food for benthic fauna,
an overabundance ofTOC can cause reductions
in species richness, abundance, and biomass due
to oxygen depletion and buildup  of toxic by-
products (ammonia and sulfide) associated with the
breakdown of these materials.
  Benthic indices specific to the  coastal ocean
waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight, South Atlantic
Bight, and West Coast have not been developed;
therefore, benthic condition in these waters was
assessed using the density of offshore fauna, the
mean number of taxa, and the mean diversity
(Shannon H' calculated with base-2 logarithms).
These measurements were then compared to similar
measurements taken by the NCA. In addition,
samples of macrobenthic infauna were analyzed
for  the presence of non-indigenous species. For
the Mid-Atlantic Bight and South Atlantic Bight
surveys, benthic species lists were examined for
presence of non-indigenous species by comparison
to the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) Non-
indigenous Aquatic Species Database (USGS,
2010). For the West Coast coastal ocean survey,
benthic species  lists were examined for presence of
non-indigenous species in the coastal ocean shelf
environment by using the Pacific Coast  Ecosystem
Information System (PCEIS) classification scheme,
a geo-referenced database of native and non-
indigenous species of the Northeast Pacific (Lee et
al.,  2008).
  In order to assess the fish tissue contaminants
index in coastal ocean waters, concentrations
of a suite of metals, pesticides, and PCBs were
compared to risk-based EPA advisory guidelines for
recreational fishers (U.S. EPA, 2000c).
  Along with assessments of water quality, fish
contaminants, and benthic condition, the sections
on coastal ocean monitoring include comparisons
between estuaries and coastal ocean waters. These
comparisons provide a critical reflection of the acute
pressures on estuarine ecosystems due to closer
proximity to land-based sources of pollutants and
other stressors. Contaminants that tend to become
concentrated in estuaries are more dispersed in
coastal ocean waters, a trend that is reflected in the
overall good condition of these waters compared to
varying quality of estuaries. Although coastal ocean
ecosystems provide habitat for all types of species
and levels of the food web, from phytoplankton and
zooplankton to large predatory fish, the numbers of
species that rely on estuaries for various life stages
are numerous. Furthermore, many of the species
that eventually inhabit coastal ocean waters utilize
estuaries  during critical life stages. The comparisons
between  estuarine and coastal ocean condition,
therefore, enhance our understanding of complex
ecosystem functions from the shoreline to open
water.
   The coastal ocean surveys demonstrate the
benefits of performing science through partnerships
that bring together complementary capabilities
and resources from a variety of federal, state, and
academic institutions. The project was principally
funded by the NOAA's National Centers for
Coastal Ocean Science and conducted aboard
NOAA vessels. As a partner in this effort, the
EPA provided technical support to NOAA in the
development of survey designs, assistance in the
field, and data analysis.

Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries Data
   In addition to coastal monitoring data, a second
type of data used to assess coastal condition in this
report  is  LME fisheries data from NOAA's NMFS.
LMEs  extend from river basins and estuaries to
the seaward boundaries of continental shelves
and the outer margins of major current systems.
Within these waters, ocean pollution, fishery
overexploitation, and coastal habitat alteration are
most likely to occur. Sixty-four LMEs surround the
continents and most large islands and island chains
worldwide and produce 80% of the world's annual
marine fishery yields; 11 of these LMEs are found
in waters adjacent to the conterminous United
States,  Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and U.S. island
territories.

.1
                                                                                                          31

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                   LMEs are areas of ocean
                   characterized by distinct bathymetry,
                   hydrography, productivity, and trophic
                   relationships.
           The NMFS fisheries data were organized by
        LME to allow readers to more easily consider
        fisheries and estuarine condition data together.
        Geographically, LMEs contain both the estuaries
        assessed by the NCA and the U.S. Exclusive
        Economic Zone (EEZ) waters containing the
        fisheries assessed by NMFS. In addition, the
        borders of the LMEs coincide roughly with the
        borders of the NCA regions. When considered
        together, these two data sets provide insight into
        the condition of U.S. marine waters.
           This report presents the offshore fisheries data by
        LME through 2006. The index period was limited
        to 2006 because the timeframe is more consistent
        with the coastal condition and advisory data
        presented in this report. This temporal consistency
        allows the reader to consider all types of data
        together to get a clearer "snapshot" of conditions
        in U.S. coastal waters. Within each chapter, bar
        graphs present the top commercial fisheries for
        each LME, with landings and values totaled for the
        2003 to 2006 period. The landings are presented in
        metric tons, unless otherwise noted. The values are
        in terms of ex-vessel revenues, which are landings
        at dockside prices prior to any onshore handling,
        processing, or re-selling.

        Interactions between Fisheries and
        Coastal Condition
           Freshwater and saltwater coastal areas are
        constantly changing as a result of both human
        and natural forces, which make these areas both
        resilient and fragile  in nature (National Safety
        Council, 1998). The ecosystems in these areas
        are interconnected,  and stressors on one of these
        systems can affect the other systems. For example,
        water quality in freshwater streams and rivers
        is vital to providing a healthy environment,
        particularly for anadromous (migratory) fish species
        such as salmon that are born in freshwater streams,
migrate to the ocean as juveniles, utilize the ocean
environment as they mature into adults, and
return to the streams of their birth to spawn and
ultimately die. Good water quality in the spawning
areas is required to ensure development of the
young. Good water quality is also important for the
species that are spawned and develop as juveniles
in estuaries, where fresh and salt waters mingle,
interact, and are refreshed with the tidal change.
When water quality in these upstream freshwater
areas is negatively impacted, the survival of juvenile
fish in the estuarine nursery areas may decrease,
ultimately affecting the offshore fishery stocks of
adults for these species.
   The coastal and offshore waters, as well as the
resources they contain, face many stressors. For
example, land-based stressors include increasing
coastal population growth, coupled with inadequate
land-use planning and increasing inputs of
pollutants from the development of urban areas  and
from agricultural and industrial activities. Pollutant
inputs to our freshwater, estuarine, and near-coastal
waters include excessive amounts of nutrients
from land runoff; toxic chemical contaminants
discharged from point sources; nonpoint-source
runoff; accidental spills; and deposition from the
atmosphere. Degradation or loss of habitat (e.g.,
loss of wetland acreage), episodes of hypoxia, and
pressures from overfishing by both recreational
and commercial fisherman also impact these
coastal ecosystems and the species they nurture.
Offshore in the EEZ, stressors  come from oil spills,
overexploitation of fishery stock resources, and/
or habitat loss associated with damage to benthic
communities (e.g., macroalgal  forests, coral reefs)
from fishing activities or development of mineral
and energy resources.
   The linkage between the stressors in the
freshwater rivers and estuaries and the coastal
ocean is shown in Figure  1-6. Aquatic and
estuarine fisheries resource managers direct their
efforts to preserving water quality conditions;
maintaining important spawning and nursery areas
associated with wetlands, marshes, and SAV beds;
and regulating fishing pressure by recreational
32

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                                                                                                                   s
                             Freshwater Rivers and Lakes        Estuary
               Coastal
               Waters
               0-3 miles
               offshore
EEZ
(Extends from 3 miles to
200 miles overlaping
Territorial Sea)
3-200 miles
offshore
Continental
Shelf
> 200 miles
offshore
 8.
&
 §
                                                                                                                    o
                                                                                                                   O
                                                                                                                   O
Figure 1-6. Linkages between the stressors in freshwater systems, estuaries, and the coastal ocean (U.S. EPA/NCA).
and commercial fishermen. In contrast, offshore
fisheries managers direct their efforts to managing
the exploitation of commercial fishery resources
of the adult stocks. Outside the EEZ, fisheries
managers have less control over the fishery stocks
unless established by international treaties. These
combined efforts to reduce pollution, maintain
habitat quality, and manage fisheries help to ensure
that healthy fishery stocks can be maintained for
many years  into the future.

Fishery Management and
Assessment
   Ultimately, the  Secretary of Commerce has
management responsibility for most marine life
in U.S. waters and has entrusted the management
of these resources to NOAA's NMFS. Most of
the NMFS's management and conservation
responsibilities are derived from the following acts
of Congress:
  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
    Management Act regulates fisheries within the
    EEZ
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects species
    that are in danger of extinction or likely to
    become an endangered species
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act regulates the
    taking of marine mammals
  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act authorizes
    the collection of fisheries data and coordination
    with other agencies for environmental decisions
    affecting fisheries management  regions
  • Federal Power Act provides concurrent
    responsibilities with the FWS on protecting
    aquatic habitat (NMFS, 2009b).
   The NMFS regulates fisheries in  the waters
located 3 to 200 nautical miles offshore of the
United States in an area known as the EEZ. The
waters located landward of the EEZ (0—3 nautical
miles offshore) are managed by coastal states
                                                                                                             33

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        and multistate fisheries commissions. Fishery
        resources in the EEZ are managed largely through
        Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). FMPs may be
        developed by the NMFS or by fishery management
        councils (e.g., Pacific Fishery Management Council,
        New England Fishery Management Council, Gulf
        of Mexico Fishery Management Council) through
        extensive consultation with state and federal
        agencies, affected industry sectors, public interest
        groups, and, in some cases, international science
        and management organizations (NMFS, 2009b).
          Various data sources are used to  assess fishery
        stocks in the EEZ. Catch-at-age fisheries data
        are reported to the NMFS by commercial and
        recreational fisheries on the quantity offish caught;
        the individual sizes offish and their basic biological
        characteristics (e.g., age, sex, maturity); the  ratio of
        fish caught to time spent fishing (i.e., catch per unit
        effort [CPUE]);  and other factors. The NMFS also
        conducts direct resource surveys using specialized
        fishery research vessels to  calculate the abundance
        index (i.e.,  estimated population size) for some
        species. The NMFS analyzes these data using several
        metrics to gain an understanding of the status and
        trends in U.S. fishery stocks. These metrics include
        the following:
          •  Landings/Catch—Landings are the number
            or pounds offish unloaded at a dock by
            commercial  fishermen or brought to shore
            by recreational fishermen for personal use.
            Landings are reported at the points where fish
            are brought  to shore.  Catch is the total number
            or pounds of fish captured from an area over
            some period of time.  This measure includes fish
            that are caught, but released or discarded. The
            catch may take place  in an area different from
            where the fish are landed.
          •  Fishing Mortality Rate—The fishing mortality
            rate is the rate at which members of the
            population perish due to fishing activities.
          •  Yields  (various)—The maximum sustainable
           yields the largest average catch or yield that
            can continuously be taken from a stock under
            existing environmental conditions. The recent
            average yield'is the average reported fishery
    landings for a recent timeframe. The
    term potential yield is the maximum long-term
    average yield that can be achieved through
    conscientious stewardship. The near-optimum
    yields based on the maximum sustainable yield
    as modified by economic, social, or ecological
    factors to provide the greatest overall benefit
    to the nation, with particular consideration for
    food production and recreational opportunities.
    Overfishing/Overfished—According to the
    Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
    and Management Act of 1996, a fishery is
    considered overfished if the stock size is below
    a minimum threshold,  and overfishing occurs
    if a stock's fishing mortality rate is above a
    maximum level. These thresholds and levels
    are associated with maximum sustainable
    yield-based reference points and vary between
    individual stocks, stock complexes, and species
    offish.
    Utilization—The degree of utilization is
    determined by comparing  the present levels
    of fishing effort and stock abundance to those
    levels necessary to achieve the long-term
    potential yield. A fishery can be classified as
    underutilized, fully utilized, over utilized, or
    unknown  (NMFS, 2009b).
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act regulates fisheries within the U.S. EEZ
(courtesy of NOAA).
34

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   Once the status of a fishery is assessed, resource
managers may employ various management tools
to regulate where, when, and how people fish,
thus protecting and sustaining our nation's fishery
resources so that marine resources continue as
functioning components of marine ecosystems,
afford economic opportunities, and enhance the
quality of life for U.S. citizens (NOAA, 2007).
When deemed necessary, fishery resource managers
can employ a variety of different tools to regulate
harvest, depending on the fish or shellfish species
involved. These fishery management tools include
the following:
  • Daily bag or trip catch limits that reduce or
    increase the number offish caught per day or
    per trip, respectively
  • Size limits that impose minimum fish lengths
    that limit harvest to adults, thereby protecting
    immature or juvenile fish
  • Seasonal closures that prohibit commercial
    and/or recreational harvesting of specific  fish or
    shellfish stocks during the spawning period
  • Limited access programs that prevent
    increased fishing participation by reducing the
    number of fishing vessels through vessel buyout
    programs, placing a moratorium on new
    vessel entrants into a fishery,  or establishing a
    permitting system for commercial fishermen
  • Gear restrictions that limit the use of certain
    types of equipment or mandate increases  in
    regulated net mesh size, thereby protecting the
    habitat from damage or excluding juveniles
    from harvesting through the  use of larger net
    mesh sizes, respectively
  • Time and area  closures that prohibit
    harvesting of specific fish stocks in specific
    fishing grounds or limit the allowable number
    of days at sea for fishing for certain types  of
    vessels  (e.g., trawl or gill-net) to protect habitat
    of juveniles or spawning species or to reduce
    total catch
  • Harvest quotas that limit the number of fish
    of a particular species that can be harvested
    annually from a particular region, thereby
    preventing overfishing
  • Establishment of Marine Protected Areas
    within which the harvest of all species is
    prohibited.
   Through the use of these fishery management
tools, the NMFS makes stewardship decisions
and provides support for rebuilding stocks
through science-based conservation and resources
management to ensure  that marine fishery resources
continue as healthy, sustainable, and functioning
components of marine  ecosystems (NOAA,
2007). Unless otherwise noted, the information
provided for this report on living marine resources
within U.S. LMEs was  compiled from the NMFS
productivity data and the report Our Living Oceans
(NMFS, 2009b), which is issued periodically by the
NMFS and covers  most living marine resources of
interest for commercial, recreational, subsistence,
and aesthetic or intrinsic reasons to the United
States.
Advisory Data
   Advisory data provided by states or other
regulatory agencies are the third set of data used
in this report to assess coastal condition. Several
EPA programs, including the National Listing of
Fish Advisories (NLFA) program and the Beaches
Environmental Assessment, Closure, and Health
(BEACH) Program, maintain databases that are
repositories for information that addresses the
condition of the  coast as it relates to public health.
These are also important factors in the public's
perception of coastal condition. The data for these
programs are  collected by multiple state agencies
and reported  to the EPA, and data collection  and
reporting methods differ among states. In addition,
advisories are precautionary and may not reflect
regional condition. Because of these inconsistencies,
data generated by these programs are not included
in and are not comparable to the regional estimates
of estuarine condition.

National  Listing of Fish Advisories
   States, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and
tribes have primary responsibility for protecting
their residents from the health risks of consuming

.1
                                                                                                          35

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        contaminated, non-commercially caught fish and
        shellfish. Resource managers at the state, territory,
        commonwealth, or tribal level protect residents
        by issuing consumption advisories for the general
        population, including recreational and subsistence
        fishers, as well as for sensitive groups (e.g., pregnant
        women, nursing mothers, children, individuals with
        compromised immune systems). These advisories
        inform the public that high concentrations of
        chemical contaminants (e.g., mercury, PCBs) have
        been found in local fish and shellfish. The advisories
        include recommendations to limit or avoid
consumption of certain fish and shellfish species
from specific waterbodies or, in some cases, from
specific waterbody types (e.g., all coastal waters
within a state).
   The 2006 NLFA is a database—available from
the EPA and searchable on the Internet at http://
www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish—that contains fish
advisory information provided to the EPA by the
states, territories, commonwealths, and tribes. The
NLFA database can generate national, regional,
and state maps that illustrate any combination of
advisory parameters.
                  How the NCA fish tissue contaminants index differs from the state fish advisory data
                  The results of the NCA fish tissue contaminants index provide a different picture of chemical
                  contamination in fish than the results obtained from the state fish consumption advisory programs.
                  The main difference between these two programs is that the NCA is designed to be a nationally
                  consistent ecological assessment of contaminant concentrations in fish tissue in a variety of ecologically
                  important target species.  In contrast, the state fish advisory programs are designed to identify fish
                  tissue contaminant concentrations in fish species that are locally consumed  by recreational fishers
                  that may be harmful to human health and warrant issuance of a fish advisory. These programs differ
                  in several other ways, including the contaminants analyzed, type of fish samples analyzed, and health
                  benchmarks used in the assessment. These differences are discussed in greater detail below and are
                  summarized in the table.
                  •   The NCA analyzes each fish sample for a uniform suite of contaminants in all estuaries nationally.
                      In contrast, individual states monitor for specific contaminants, but each state selects the
                      contaminants of concern for a particular waterbody based on land-use practices in the watershed,
                      identified sources of pollution, and available  state resources. Therefore, some states may monitor
                      for mercury and pesticides, while other states monitor for select heavy metals and PCBs.
                  •   The NCA analyzes both juvenile and adult fish, most often as whole specimens,  because this is the
                      way fish would typically be consumed by predator species. This approach is appropriate for an
                      ecological assessment.  In contrast, most state programs assess the risk of contaminant exposure
                      to human populations and, therefore, analyze primarily the fillet tissue (portion most commonly
                      consumed by the general population).  States may also conduct chemical analyses of whole fish or
                      specific organs in areas where certain populations such as Native Americans, Southeast Asians, or
                      other ethnic groups consume whole fish or other fish tissues. The use of whole-fish samples can
                      result in higher concentrations of those contaminants (e.g., p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
                      (DDT), PCBs, dioxins and other chlorinated pesticides) that are stored in fatty tissues and lower
                      concentrations of contaminants (e.g., mercury) that accumulate primarily in the  muscle tissue. In
                      contrast, the states' practice of typically analyzing fillet samples can result in higher concentrations
                      of those contaminants that tend to concentrate in the muscle tissue and lower concentrations
                      of those contaminants that are typically stored in fatty tissues, which are not included  in a fillet
                      sample.
                                                                                                       continued
36

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     How the NCA fish tissue contaminants index differs from the state fish advisory data
     (continued)

     • The NCA analyzes fish from a variety of species from intermediate trophic levels found in
       estuaries and coastal marine waters; these species are often prey species for many commercially
       valuable predator species. In addition, the NCA analyzes both juvenile and adult fish.  In contrast,
       state programs typically analyze only the larger marketable-sized specimens (adults) of the fish or
       shellfish species that are consumed by members of the local population for making fish advisory
       determinations. These fish species are often predators (e.g., bluefish, striped bass, king mackerel)
       at the top of the estuarine or coastal food web and are more likely to have bioaccumulated higher
       concentrations of contaminants than  some of the target species sought by the NCA program.

                                                                                                                 .1
      Summary of Differences Between State Fish Consumption Advisory Programs
                             and NCA Fish Sampling Approach
Elements        State Fish Advisory Programs
Fish species       Sample marketable-sized adult
and sizes         fish, with a focus on those species
sampled          consumed by the local fish-eating
                 population.
Type offish       Analyze primarily fillet tissue samples
samples          (edible portion) to assess human
analyzed          health concerns. Analysis of whole-
                 body fish or other tissue types is
                 conducted when the local consumer's
                 culinary preference is to eat whole
                 fish or body parts other than the fillet
                 sample.
Number and      Analyze chemical contaminant residues
sample types      in both individual fish and composite
analyzed          samples of varying numbers of
                 adult fish.The number of fish used
                 per composite is set by the state
                 conducting the  analyses.
Contaminants     Individual states monitor for any
analyzed in       contaminant or suite of contaminants
tissues           that are of concern to human health
                 in a particular waterbody in their
                 jurisdiction.The extent of analyses is
                 often dependent on available state
                 resources.
Health           Use EPA-recommended fish
benchmark       consumption advisory values to
values used       identify fish species of human- health
                 concern and to develop fish advisories.
NCA
 Samples target species (unique to each
 geographic region) that includes demersal
 or slow-moving pelagic species from
 intermediate trophic levels, including all sizes
 and ages (juveniles and adults) offish in an
 ecosystem.
 Analyzes whole-body and fillet samples to
 assess the health of the ecosystem.
 Typically analyzes chemical contaminant
 residues in composite samples offish of
 the same species. Composite samples may
 contain 4 to 10 juvenile and adult fish.
 Monitors fora specific suite of contaminants
 at all sites nationally, including the following:
  • 23 PAH compounds,
  • 21  PCB congeners,
  • 6 DDT derivatives and metabolites,
  • 14 chlorinated pesticides
     (other than DDT), and
  • 3 metals (including mercury).

 Uses EPA-recommended fish consumption
 advisory values as surrogate values to assess
 health of the ecosystem in the  absence of
 comprehensive ecological thresholds.
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        Beach Advisories and Closures
          As venues for numerous recreational activities
        and vacation destinations, beaches provide services
        that generate vast amounts of revenue for local
        communities. Therefore, the health of beaches is
        of paramount importance to the United States.
        However, there is concern about the risks posed
        by disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters.
        As part of its commitment to protect the public at
        beaches, the EPA established its BEACH Program
        in 1997, working with state and local governments
        to monitor and document the condition of the
        nation's beaches.
          From 1997 to 2002, beach monitoring was
        conducted on a voluntary basis; however, Congress
        passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment
        and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) of
        2000, mandating coastal and Great Lakes states
        and territories to report to the EPA on beach
        monitoring and to provide notification data  for
        their coastal recreational waters. Under this Act,
        the EPA is also required to maintain an electronic
        monitoring and notification database of state
        monitoring data. These data include the number,
        duration, and reasons for notification actions
        that are issued when bacteria levels at swimming
        beaches exceed human health exposure standards.
        It should be noted that notifications often are
        issued on a precautionary basis and are, therefore,
        not indicative of an actual contamination event.
        More information on the BEACH Program  and
        monitoring is available online at http://water.epa.
        gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm.
   Due to the changes in monitoring procedures
under the BEACH Act, data from 1997 to 2002
are not comparable to the data from 2003 onward.
Uniform and consistent reporting procedures for
States began in 2004, allowing a degree of inter-
annual comparability from 2004  to 2008  (the latest
date for which data were available at the time of
writing). Therefore, the presentation of BEACH
Program information has changed from the NCCR
III format. This report presents monitoring efforts
and notification actions from 2004 to 2008, where
data were available. Any year-to-year comparisons
are limited by changes in intra-state monitoring
and reporting processes,  QA procedures, and state
funding to monitoring programs  that all affect
state reporting of beaches information. The data
for 2006 are incomplete; therefore, the reasons for,
and duration of, beach advisories are presented for
2007-
   For more information you can visit the following
Web sites:
  • EPA BEACH Program homepage: http://water.
    epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm
  • BEACH Act: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
    beaches/rules/act.html
  • Reference to differences in state reporting
    beginning in 2003: http://www.epa.gov/
    waterscience/beaches/seasons/2005/index.html
  • National Beach Guidance and Required
    Performance Criteria for Beach Grants: http://
    www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/grants/
    guidance/
  • Find your beach: http://iaspub.epa.gov/
    waters 10/beacon_national_page.main
        Coastal states report information on beach monitoring and notification actions to EPA (courtesy of NPS).
38

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                  National  Coastal  Condition
           As shown in Figure 2-1, the overall condition of
        the nation's coastal waters is rated fair, with an overall
        condition score of 3-0. The fish tissue contaminants
        index is rated good to fair, and the water quality,
        sediment quality, benthic, and coastal habitat indices
        are all rated fair. Figure 2-2 provides a summary of
        the percentage of coastal area in good, fair, poor, or
        missing categories for each index and component
        indicator.  This assessment is based on environmental
        stressor and response data collected between 2003
        and 2006 from 3,144 sites in the coastal waters of
        the coastal states of the conterminous United States;
        Southeastern Alaska; Hawaii; American Samoa;
        Guam; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands
        (Figure 2-3).
                           Overall Condition
                         U.S. Coastal Waters (3.0)
       Water Quality Index (3.6)

       Sediment Quality Index (2.6)

       Benthic Index (2.4)

       Coastal Habitat Index (2.6)
       Fish Tissue Contaminants
       Index (4.0)
        Figure 2-1. The overall condition of U.S. coastal waters
        is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
        >
Please refer to Chapter I for
information about how these
assessments were made, the outpoints
used to develop the rating for each
index and component indicator, and the
limitations of the available data.
                                               Water Quality Index

                                                     Nitrogen (DIN)

                                                   Phosphorus(DIP)

                                                      Chlorophyll a

                                                      Water Clarity

                                                   Dissolved Oxygen

                                             Sediment Quality Index

                                                    Sediment Toxicity

                                               Sediment Contaminants

                                            Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

                                                     Benthic Index
                                                                          Fish Tissue
                                                                   Contaminants Index
                                                                     20    40    60    80
                                                                        Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                                                100
                                                              Good   Fair
                                                                           Poor     Missing
                                                              Figure 2-2.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                              ranking for all indices and component indicators—
                                                              United States (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                              Guam was one of the new areas assessed by NCA for
                                                              this report (courtesy of NOAA).
40

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   The condition of U.S. coastal waters was
determined for this report by combining
assessments from the Northeast Coast, Southeast
Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, and West Coast
regions of the conterminous United States with
those from Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, American
                                                       Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin
                                                       Islands (see Figure 2-3). It should be noted that the
                                                       overall condition and index scores for the nation are
                                                       determined using a weighted average of the regional
                                                       scores rather than the percent area rated good, fair,
                                                       and poor.
                                                                                                                          .O
                                                                                                                          O
                                                                                                                         O

                                     Overall Condition
                                        West Coast
                                                                Overall Condition
                                                                   Great Lakes
 Overall Condition
U.S. Coastal Waters
                                     Good   Fair    Po
                                                                                            Overall Condition
                                                                                            Northeast Coast
                                                                Good   Fair    Poor
    Good     FJir     Poor
                                                                                           Overall Condition
                                                                                           Southeast Coast
    Ecological Health
         Water Quality Index

         Sediment Quality Index

         Benthic Index
                                              Overall Condition
                                                 Gulf Coast
         Coastal Habitat Index
         Fish Tissue
         Contaminants Index
    Overall Condition
      Southeastern
         Alaska
                                                                                 Overall
                                                                                Condition
                                                                             American Samoa
                                          Overall Condition
                                               Hawaii
                                                                                           * Surveys completed, but an
                                                                                             ndex ratine was unavailable
        Surveys completed, but no index
        data available until the next report.
                                                  Surveys completed, but an
                                                  index rating was unavailable.
                                                                                      Overall
                                                                                     Condition
                                                                                 U.S.Virgin Islands
                                                 Overall Condition
                                                    Puerto Rico
Overall Condition
      Guam
                                                                                 Good   Fair    Poor
                * Surveys completed, but an
                 index ratine was unavailable
                                                 * Surveys completed, but an
                                                  index rating was unavailable
                                                                                        Surveys completed, but an
                                                                                        index ratine was unavailable
Figure 2-3. Overall national and regional coastal condition based on data collected primarily in 2003 to 2006 (U.S.
EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                                       41

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 §
   Figure 2-4 summarizes the national (including
Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
territories)  and regional condition of the nation's
coastal waters. The water quality index and its
component indicators are predominantly rated fair
or good for regions throughout the nation. The
water clarity component indicator in the Southeast
Coast region and the DIP and chlorophyll a
indicators in the Great Lakes region are the
exceptions. The sediment quality index is rated
poor for the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and
Great Lakes regions; fair to poor for the Southeast
Coast region and the U.S. Virgin Islands; fair for
the Northeast and West Coast regions; and good
for Southeastern Alaska and Guam.  The benthic
index shows that  biological conditions are  rated
poor in the coastal waters of the Northeast Coast
region; fair to poor in the Gulf Coast and Great
Lakes regions; fair in Puerto Rico; good to fair in
Guam; and good in the coastal waters of the West
Coast and Southeast Coast regions and the U.S.
Virgin Islands (benthic condition ratings were
not available for Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, or
American Samoa). The fish tissue contaminants
index is rated fair to poor for the coastal waters of
the Northeast Coast region; fair for the Great Lakes
region; and good for the Gulf, West, and Southeast
coast regions; Southeastern Alaska; Guam; and
American Samoa. Fish tissue contaminants data
were not available for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
                         Fair      Poor
               Overall Condition
                                                                          V
               Water Quality
                  Nitrogen (DIN)
                                                           Missing
                  Phosphorus (DIP)
                  Chlorophyll a
                  Water Clarity
                  Dissolved Oxygen
               Sediment Quality Index
                                                                             Missing
                  Sediment Toxicity
                                                           Missing
                Missing Missing
            Missing
                  Sediment Contaminants
                                                                                          Missing
                  Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
                                                           Missing
                      Missing
               Benthic Index
                                                     ffl
          Missing
Missing
Missing
               Coastal Habitat Index
                                                                       Missing
                      Missing
            Missing
            Missing
Missing
               Fish Tissue Contaminants
               Index
                                                                       Missing
                                  Missing
                         Missing
              Figure 2-4. Overall national and regional coastal condition, 2003-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     42

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                                                                                                                       ,
   The population of the nation's coastal counties
(including island territories) increased by 28
million people between  1980 and 2006 (Figure
2-5), constituting a 27% growth rate. Because the
land area of the nation's  coastal counties comprises
roughly 17% of the U.S. total land area, coastal
population increases are frequently accompanied
by larger population density increases and greater
demands for limited resources. In 2006, the
population density in the nation's coastal areas was
182 persons/square mile (Figure 2-6) compared to
a density of 88 persons/square mile for non-coastal
areas (NOEP, 2010; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Figure 2-6 shows the distribution of the U.S.
coastal population in 2006.
 140,000
 120,000-
 100,000-
  80,000 -

  60,000 -

  40,000 -

  20,000 -

      0™
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          1980
                   1990
                           2000
                           Year
                                    2006
                                             2008
Figure 2-5.  Population of U.S. coastal counties and
island territories, 1980-2008 (NOEP 2010).
                                                          Population Density by County
                                                          (people/square mile) 2006
      Northern
       Mariana
       Islands
                Guam
                         America Samoa
                                             Hawaii
       Less than 500
   CH  500 to less than 2,000
   CH  2,000 to less than 20,000
   •  20,000 or greater
Puerto Rico
Figure 2-6. Population density in the nation's coastal counties in 2006 (NOEP 2010; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
                                                                                                                 43

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 §
Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal Condition
   This section presents the monitoring data used
to rate the five indices of coastal condition assessed
in this report. These calculations do not include
proportional-area and location data for the Great
Lakes because, due to sampling design differences
in the data sets, areal estimates for the Great Lakes
cannot be determined. Although these two types of
Great Lakes data are not presented in this section,
the Great Lakes regional index and component
indicator scores are included in the national
scores. Chapter 7 provides further details of the
monitoring data for the Great Lakes.
                E Water Quality Index
               The water quality index for the nation's coastal
             waters is rated fair, with 6% of the coastal area
             rated poor and 36% rated fair for water quality
             condition (Figure 2-7). The water quality index
             was determined based on measurements of five
             component indicators: DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,
             water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. Based on the
             NCA results, 42% of the nation's coastal waters
             experienced a moderate-to-high degree of water
             quality degradation and were rated fair or poor.
             Fair condition was generally characterized by
             degradation in water quality response variables (i.e.,
             increased chlorophyll a concentrations  or decreased
             dissolved oxygen concentrations). Although poor
             condition may also be characterized by some
             degradation in response variables, it was more
             likely to be characterized by degradation due to
             environmental stressors (e.g., increased nutrient
             concentrations or reduced water clarity). Although
             none of the regions outlined in this report were
             rated poor for water quality, the Southeast Coast
             had the highest proportion of coastal area rated
             poor for this index (13%), followed by the Gulf
             Coast (10%), Puerto Rico (10%), and Northeast
             Coast (9%) regions. The Southeast Coast region
             had the lowest proportion of coastal area (22%)
             rated good for water quality.
The NCA monitoring data used
in this assessment are based on
single-day measurements collected at
sites throughout the U.S. coastal waters
(excluding the Great Lakes) during a
9- to 12-week period during the
summer. Data were not collected
during other time periods.
                                                                                  Poor
                                                     Figure 2-7. Water quality index data for the nation's
                                                     coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                     Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                                                        The nation's coastal waters are rated good for
                                                     DIN concentrations, with only 2% of the coastal
                                                     area rated poor. The highest percentage of coastal
                                                     area rated poor for DIN concentrations occurred
                                                     in the Northeast Coast (5%) region. U.S. coastal
                                                     waters are rated good for DIP concentrations,
                                                     with 8% of the coastal area rated poor for this
                                                     component indicator and 28% of the area rated
                                                     fair. Elevated DIP concentrations were often
                                                     observed in the coastal waters of all regions  except
                                                     Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, and
                                                     the U.S. Virgin Islands.

                                                     Chlorophyll a
                                                        The nation's coastal waters are rated good for
                                                     chlorophyll a concentrations, with 4% of the
                                                     coastal area rated poor and 30% of the area rated
                                                     fair for this component indicator. No  regions
                                                     of the country are rated poor for chlorophyll a
                                                     concentrations. The Southeast,  Northeast, and Gulf
                                                     coast regions had less than 50% of their areas rated
     44

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                                                                                                                    ,
good for chlorophyll a concentrations and were
rated fair. Regions that experienced large expanses
of poor condition for chlorophyll a concentrations
included the Southeast Coast (12%), the Gulf
Coast (7%), and Puerto Rico (8%).

Water Clarity
  The nation's coastal waters are rated fair for water
clarity, with 14% of the U.S. coastal area rated poor
for this component indicator. Sites with poor water
clarity were distributed throughout the country,
but the regions with the greatest proportion of total
coastal area rated poor for water clarity were the
Gulf Coast (21%) and the Southeast Coast (26%)
regions. Three different reference conditions were
established for assessing water clarity conditions in
U.S. coastal waters (see Chapter 1 for additional
information). Table 2-1 shows the cutpoints for
rating a site in poor condition for water clarity
in estuary systems with differing levels of natural
turbidity.
 Table 2-1. Regional Guidelines to Determine
 PoorWater Clarity Condition in Estuaries.
                                Percentage of
                              Ambient Surface
                             Light That Reaches a
       Coastal Areas           Depth of I Meter
 Areas having high natural             < 5%
 levels of suspended solids
 in the water (e.g., Louisiana,
 Delaware Bay, Mobile Bay,
 Mississippi) or extensive
 wetlands (e.g., South
 Carolina, Georgia)
 Areas having extensive               < 20%
 SAV beds (e.g., Florida
 Bay, Indian River Lagoon,
 Laguna Madre); desiring to
 reestablish SAV (e.g.,Tampa
 Bay); or having tropical
 waters (Hawaii and the
 island territories)
 The remainder of the                < 10%
 country
Dissolved Oxygen
   Dissolved oxygen conditions in the nation's
coastal waters are rated good, with less than 5%
(4.6%) of the coastal area rated poor and 16% rated
fair for this component indicator. The Southeast
Coast region showed the greatest proportion of
coastal area (11%) experiencing low dissolved
oxygen concentrations.
          Interpretation of Instantaneous
          Dissolved Oxygen Information
          Although the NCA results do
          not suggest that dissolved oxygen
          concentrations are a pervasive problem,
          the instantaneous measurements on
          which these results are based may
          have underestimated the magnitude
          and duration of low dissolved oxygen
          events at any given site. Longer-term
          observations by other investigators
          have revealed increasing trends in the
          frequency and areal extent of low-
          oxygen events in some coastal areas.
          For example, extensive year-round
          or seasonal monitoring over multiple
          years in such places as North Carolina's
          Neuse and Pamlico rivers and Rhode
          Island's Narragansett Bay have shown
          a much higher incidence of hypoxia
          than is depicted in the present NCA
          data (Paerl et al., 1998: Bergondo et
          al., 2005; Deacutis, 2006). These  data
          show that while hypoxic conditions do
          not exist continuously, they can occur
          occasionally to frequently for generally
          short durations of time (hours).
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 §
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index for the nation's
coastal waters is rated fair, with a score of 2.6
and 10% of the coastal area rated poor for
sediment quality (Figure 2-8). The sediment
quality index was based on measurements of three
component indicators: sediment toxicity, sediment
contaminants, and sediment TOC. The region
showing the largest proportional area with poor
sediment quality was Puerto Rico (20%), followed
by the Gulf Coast (19%) and Hawaii (18%)
regions. Although there were no areal estimates for
poor sediment condition in the Great Lakes region
(see Chapter 7 for more information), local, non-
probabilistic surveys of that region resulted in a
sediment quality index rating of poor. Southeastern
Alaska and Guam were the only regions that were
rated good for sediment quality.

Sediment Toxicity
   The sediment toxicity component indicator for
the nation's coastal waters is rated poor, with 8% of
the U.S. coastal area rated poor for this component
indicator. Sediment toxicity was observed most
often in sediments of the West Coast (16%) and
Gulf Coast (15%) regions. Sediment toxicity
ratings were not available for the Hawaii, Great
Lakes, or American Samoa regions. The sediment
toxicity assessment for Guam differed from that of
other  regions (see Chapter 9 for more information)
and was not included in the national assessment.
                                     Missing
                                      2%
Sediment Contaminants
   The sediment contaminants component
indicator for the nation's coastal waters is rated
good. Poor sediment contaminant condition
was observed in 3% of the coastal area, and fair
condition was observed in an additional 4% of the
coastal area. The highest proportion of area rated
poor for sediment contaminants occurred in Puerto
Rico (10%) and Hawaii (6%). Although there are
no areal estimates for poor sediment contaminant
condition in the Great Lakes region, local, non-
probabilistic surveys of that  region produced
results indicating a poor rating for this component
indicator.

Sediment TOC
   The nation's coastal waters are rated good for
sediment TOC  concentrations, with only 5% of
the U.S. coastal area rated poor for this component
indicator. All regions were rated good  for TOC.
      Benthic Index
   The benthic index for the nation's coastal
waters is rated fair, with a score of 2.4 and 19%
of the nation's coastal area rated poor for benthic
condition (i.e., the benthic communities have
lower-than-expected diversity, are populated by
greater-than-expected pollution-tolerant species,
or contain fewer-than-expected pollution-sensitive
species, as measured by multi-metric benthic
indices) (Figure 2-9). The regions with the
greatest proportion of coastal area in poor benthic
condition were the Northeast Coast (31%), Gulf
Coast (20%), and Puerto Rico (16%) regions.
The Southeast Coast, West Coast, and U.S.
Virgin Islands are the only regions where benthic
condition was rated good. Data were unavailable to
assess the integrity of the benthic communities in
Southeastern Alaska, Hawaii, and American Samoa.
             Figure 2-8. Sediment quality index data for the nation's
             coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).

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                  Missing
                    10%
             Fair
             13%
Figure 2-9.  Benthic index data for the nation's coastal
waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
      Coastal Habitat Index
   Coastal habitat condition in the United States
was rated fair with a score of 2.6, based on a
weighted average of regional scores (including the
Great Lakes). The coastal habitat index ratings for
most regions outlined in this report are similar
to those reported in the NCCR III because more
recent data on coastal habitat conditions for all
regions were not available for this report. Stedman
and Dahl (2008) updated the coastal wetland
area estimates for the Atlantic, Gulf, and Great
Lakes coasts for 1998 and 2004; however, only
the updated estimates for the Gulf Coast could be
included in our regional and national assessments
of coastal habitats. The estimates from Stedman
and Dahl (2008) for the Atlantic Coast were not
split into Northeast and Southeast coasts, and the
estimates for the Great Lakes included a much
larger area than what is  considered coastal for the
purposes of this report (greater than 8 million acres
of freshwater wetlands in coastal watersheds were
reported by Stedman and Dahl [2008] while only
535,584 acres of coastal wetlands are reported in
Chapter 7). Although the loss of wetland habitats
in the United States has been significant over the
past 200 years, only small losses of coastal wetlands
were documented from  the 1990s to 2000s. Table
2-2 shows the change in wetland acreage from
the 1990s to 2000s; the mean long-term, decadal
wetland loss rate from 1780 to 1980; and the
coastal habitat index value for each region. It is
important to note that the mean decadal wetland
loss rate is for total areas of all wetlands in coastal
states, while the current wetland change rate is
for coastal wetlands only (i.e., estuarine intertidal
vegetated and non-vegetated wetlands in all regions
except for the Great Lakes, where coastal wetlands
include fringing freshwater wetlands). The estimates
for Alaska represent coastal wetlands for the entire
state, not just the Southeast region. Recent coastal
wetland loss rates were high in the U.S. Virgin
Islands (-8.93%), Gulf Coast (-1.13%), and West
Coast (-0.53%). The coastal habitat index was
rated poor for the Gulf and West coasts, fair to poor
for the Great Lakes, fair for the Southeast Coast,
fair to good for the Northeast Coast, and good for
Alaska. The coastal habitat rating for the United
States was calculated as the average of the regional
scores weighted by the current proportion of coastal
wetland area in each region.

In San Francisco Bay, a I 5,000-acre tidal wetland
restoration project is relying on USGS ecological and
hydrological science to inform its planning phases and
actions—actions that will provide America's Silicon
Valley with natural flood control, recreational access,
and wildlife habitat in the coming decades (courtesy of
USGS).
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           The coastal habitat index value is
           the average of the mean long-term
           decadal loss rate of coastal wetlands
           (1780-1980) and the most recent
           decadal loss rate of coastal wetlands
           (1990-2000).
                                                           Coastal wetlands in Maryland's Blackwater National
                                                           Wildlife Refuge provide habitat for a variety of species,
                                                           including the American bald eagle, Delmarva fox
                                                           squirrel, and  peregrine falcon  (courtesy of James Lynch,
                                                           USGS).
Table 2-2. Changes in Marine and Estuarine Wetlands, 1780-1980 and 1990-2000 (Dahl, 1990,
2010)

Coastline or Area
Northeast Coastc
Southeast Coastc
GulfCoastd
West Coastc
Great Lakes6
Alaskac
Hawaii6
Puerto Rico6
U.S. Virgin lslandsf
Coastal Wetland
Areaa (acres)
1990s
452,310
1 , 1 07,370
3,519,570
320,220
535,584
2, 1 32,900
31,150
1 7,300
1,131
Coastal Wetland
Areaa (acres)
2000s
45 1 ,660
1 , 1 05, 1 70
3,479,650
318,510
No change
2, 1 32,000
No change
No change
1,030
Coastal Wetland
Area Change
(acres - %)
I990s-2000s
-650(0.14%)
-2,200 (-0.20%)
-39,920 (-1.1 3%)
-1,7 10 (-0.53%)
N/A
-900 (-0.04%)
N/A
N/A
-101 (-8.93%)
Mean Decadal
Loss Rate Area
Loss Rateb
1780s- 1980s
-1.95%
-2.00%
-2.50%
-3.40%
-2.55%
-0.01%
-0.60%
N/A
N/A

Index Value
1.05
1.10
1.82
1.97
N/A
0.03
N/A
N/A
N/A
a Coastal wetlands include estuarine intertidal wetlands (sum of estuarine non-vegetated and vegetated wetlands) for all regions
  except the Great Lakes (which include all freshwater coastal wetlands).
b Calculated as the proportion of total wetland acres existing in the 1780s that were lost by the 1980s (Dahl, 1990) divided by
  20 (number of decades, 1780 to  1980).
c Coastal wetland area estimates for the Northeast, Southeast, and West coasts and Alaska are for 1990 and 2000 (Dahl, 2010).
  The estimates for Alaska are for the entire state.
d Coastal wetland area estimates for the Gulf Coast are for 1998 and 2004 (Stedman and Dahl, 2008).
e Coastal wetland area estimates for the Great Lakes, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico represent current status for total wetlands; no
  change estimates were available (Dahl, 2010).
f Coastal wetland area estimates for the U.S.Virgin Islands are for 1990 and 2005 (Dahl, 2010).

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      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for the
nation's coastal waters is rated good to fair.
Figure 2-10 shows that 13% of all stations where
fish were caught demonstrated contaminant
concentrations in fish tissues above EPA advisory
guidance values and were rated poor. The NCA
examined whole-body composite samples, as well
as fillets (typically 4 to 10 fish of a target species
per station), for specific contaminants from  1,623
stations throughout the coastal waters of the United
States (excluding Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands). Stations in poor and fair
condition were dominated by samples with elevated
concentrations of total PCBs, total DDT,  total
PAHs, and mercury. In the Northeast  Coast region,
20% of the stations where fish were caught were
rated poor for fish tissue contaminant levels, and
20% were rated fair. All other regions  except the
Great Lakes received good ratings for the fish tissue
contaminants index. Fish tissue contaminants  data
were not available for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
When predators consume contaminated prey, they may
accumulate the levels of contaminants in the organisms
they consume (courtesy of U.S. FWS).
Figure 2-10. Fish tissue contaminants index data for the
nation's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Trends of Coastal Monitoring
Data—United States
   Coastal condition for the United States has been
estimated since 1991, when both the Virginian
and Louisianian provinces (Figure 2-11) were first
surveyed concurrently. Annual surveys of coastal
condition were conducted in the Virginian Province
from 1990 through 1993 and 1997 through 1998;
in the Louisianian Province from 1991 through
1994; in the Carolinian Province from 1995
through 1997; and in the West Indian Province in
1995- Beginning in 2000, the coastal waters of all
regions of the United States (exclusive of the Great
Lakes, Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories)
have been surveyed and assessed annually. In
2001, the NCCRI was produced and included
information for the period 1990 through 1996
from the Virginian, Carolinian, West Indian, and
Louisianian provinces (the Acadian, Californian,
and Columbian provinces; island territories; Alaska;
and Hawaii were largely excluded from this report).
In 2004, the NCCR II included an assessment of
all of the coastal ecosystems in the conterminous
United States and Puerto Rico for the period
1997 through 2000. The NCCR III provided an
assessment of the entire continental United States,
as well as Southcentral Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto
Rico, for the years 2001 and 2002. This NCCR
IV provides an assessment of the entire continental
United States, including Southeastern Alaska,
Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam,  Puerto Rico,  and
the U.S. Virgin Islands, for the years 2003  to 2006.
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                                                          O
                                                          "ro
                                                           O
                                                                                                        49

-------
         Northern
          Mariana
          Islands
Provinces
I   I Acadian
I   I Alaskan
I   I Aleutian
I   I Arctic
I   I Bering
                                                                            I   I Carolinian  j
                                                                            I   I Columbian
                                                                            I   I Insular
                                                                            I   I Lousianian
                                                                            I   I Virginian
U.S.Virgin Islands
          Guam
                       America Samoa
                                            Hawaii
                                                                  Californian
                                                                               I West Indian
                                                                                                      Puerto Rico
         Figure 2-11. EMAP coastal marine provinces (U.S. EPA).
           A traditional trend analysis cannot be performed
        on the data presented in the NCCR series because
        the underlying population (i.e., the coastal
        resources included in the survey) has changed for
        each assessment; however, estimates have been
        made for the overall condition of U.S. coastal
        waters in each assessment. If it is assumed that
        the condition of any unsampled waterbodies has
        a similar distribution to the condition of those
        sampled, then the report provides estimates for all
        of the coastal waters  of the United States. Table
        2-3 shows the primary index and overall condition
        scores from the four NCCRs for each region and
        for the nation (including Alaska, Hawaii, and the
        island territories, which were included in the past
        two reports [NCCR  II and NCCR III]).
  Sandy Hook Beach, NJ, is part of the Virginian Province
  (courtesy of NPS).
50

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      o
NCCR IV



Re ion
Northeast Coast





Southeast Coast



Gulf Coast



West Coast



Great Lakes



Alaskad

Southcentral
Southeastern
Hawaiid



American Samoad
Guamd
Puerto Ricod






NCCR
Version
NCCRI

NCCR II

NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV
NCCR IV
NCCR IV
NCCRI
NCCR II
NCCR III
NCCR IV


Water
Quality
Index
1

2

3
3
4
4
3
3
1
3
3
3
1
3
5
5
1
3
3
3
—
—
5
5
—
—
5
5
5
5
—
3
3
4


Sediment Coastal
Quality Habitat
Index Index
2 3

1 4

2 4
3 4
4 2
4 3
3 3
2 3
3 1
3 1
1 1
1 1
2 1
2 1
2 1
3 1
1 1
1 2
1 2
1 2
— —
— —
5
5 5
— —
— —
4
1
— —
5
— —
1
1
1 —



Benthic
Index
1

|

1
1
3
3
5
5
1
2
1
2
3
3
5
5
1
2
2
2
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
4
—
1
1
3


FishTissue
Contaminants
Index
2

1

1
2
5
5
4
5
3
3
5
5
3
1
1
5
3
3
3
3
—
—
5
5
—
—
—
—
5
5
—
—
—
	
^^m
^^^^^^^m

Overall
Condition
1.8

1.8

2.2
2.6
3.6
3.8
3.6
3.6
1.8
2.4
2.2
2.4
2.0
2.0
2.8
3.8
1.4
2.2
2.2
2.2
—
—
5.0
5.0
—
—
4.5
3.0
5.0
4.8
—
1.7
1.7
2.7
T5
o
O
"ro

IS
0
"ro
c
.g
(0
Z































51

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              Table 2-3. Rating Scores3 by Index and Region Comparing the NCCR lb, NCCR II, NCCR III0, and
              NCCR IV (continued)
 o
O
O
 §
Region
U.S.Virgin lslandsd
United States6
                Conterminous
                Entire
 NCCR
Version
NCCR IV
NCCR I
NCCR II
NCCRP
NCCR IVf
NCCR IV?
Water    Sediment    Coastal
Quality     Quality     Habitat
 Index      Index       Index
   5
   1.5
  3.2
  3.8
  3.2
 2
2.3
2.1
2.8
1.8
2.6
1.6
1.7
1.7
1.7
2.6
Benthic
 Index
   5
   1.5
  2.0
  2.1
  2.4
  2.4
                                FishTissue
                              Contaminants
                                  Index
3.1
2.7
3.4
3.7
4.0
 Overall
Condition
   4.0
   2.0
   2.3
   2.8
   2.5
   3.0
               a Rating scores are based on a 5-point system, where a score of less than 2.0 is rated poor; 2.0 to less than 2.4 is rated fair to
                poor; 2.4 to less than 3.7 is rated fair; 3.7 to 4.0 is rated good to fair; and greater than 4.0 is rated good.
               b Assessments for Alaska and Hawaii were not reported in the NCCR I or NCCR II. The NCCR I assessment of the Northeast
                Coast region did not include the Acadian Province (i.e. portion of the region north of Cape Cod). The West Coast ratings in
                the NCCR I were compiled using data from many different programs.
               c The West Coast, Great Lakes, and Puerto Rico scores for the NCCR III are the same as NCCR II (no new data for the NCCR
                III are provided, except for the West Coast benthic index).
               d Overall condition scores for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the island territories were based on two to three of the five NCA
                indices.
               e The U.S. overall condition  score is based on an areally weighted mean of regional scores.
               f Scores excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
               g Scores including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
                 The area covered by the NCA has expanded over
              time with the addition of Alaska, Hawaii, and the
              island territories. The southcentral and southeastern
              regions of Alaska included in the NCCR III and
              NCCR IV assessments had good water quality
              and large coastal areas, which would influence
              the national water quality index scores. (Hawaii
              and the island territories were also  included, but
              their collective coastal areas were less than 1 %
              of the total U.S. area, so their influence on the
              national  scores was negligible.) We have assessed
              the changes in national coastal condition over time
              for both  the conterminous United States and for
              the entire coastal United States, including Alaska,
              Hawaii, and the island territories. Excluding Alaska,
              Hawaii, and the island territories, the water quality
              index score for the  NCCR III and IV would be
              3.2 (rated fair), which is the same as the score for
              the NCCR II water quality index (Table  2-4).
                                                        Although the water quality index score increased
                                                        from 1.5 (rated poor) in the NCCR I to 3.2 (rated
                                                        fair) in the NCCR II, this increase is likely due a
                                                        change in methods between these two assessments.
                                                        The water quality assessment method used in
                                                        the NCCR I was largely reliant on professional
                                                        judgment for assessing eutrophication, rather than
                                                        on the direct field survey measurements used in
                                                        subsequent NCCRs (U.S. EPA, 2008c). Therefore,
                                                        if the NCCR I is excluded, this trend assessment
                                                        demonstrates no  significant change in the water
                                                        quality of U.S. coastal waters since the publication
                                                        of the NCCR II. If Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
                                                        territories are included, however, the water quality
                                                        index score for U.S. coastal waters  shows a slight
                                                        increase from 3-2 (rated fair) in the NCCR II to 3.6
                                                        (rated fair) in the NCCR IV (Table 2-5).
     52

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 Table 2-4. U.S. Index Rating Scores for the NCCR I (1990-1995), NCCR II (1996-2000), NCCR III
 (2001-2002), and NCCR IV (2003-2006) National Coastal Condition Assessments Without Alaska,
 Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, or the U.S.Virgin Islands.
Category
Water Quality Index
Sediment Quality Index
Coastal Habitat Index
Benthic Index
Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
Overall Condition
NCCRI
1.5
2.3
1.6
1.5
3.1
2.0
NCCR II
3.2
2.1
1.7
2.0
2.7
2.3
NCCRIIIa
3.2
1.6
1.7
2.1
2.9
2.3
NCCR IVb
3.2
1.8
1.7
2.4
3.7
2.5
 a NCCR III scores, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. Please note that Guam, American Samoa, and U.S.Virgin Islands were not
   assessed as part of NCCR III; therefore, no data are available for these areas.
 b NCCR IV scores, excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and U.S.Virgin Islands.
                                                                                                                    .O
                                                                                             O
                                                                                             O

 Table 2-5. U.S. Index Rating Scores for
 the NCCR III (2001-2002) and NCCR IV
 (2003-2006) National Coastal Condition
 Assessments With Alaska, Hawaii, Guam,
 American Samoa, and the U.S.Virgin Islands
Water Quality Index
Sediment Quality Index
Coastal Habitat Index
Benthic Index
Fish Tissue
Contaminants Index
Overall Condition
NCCR ll
    3.8
    2.8
     1.7
    2.1
    3.4
    2.8
                                     NCCR IVb
                                        3.6
                                        2.6
                                        2.6
                                        2.4
                                        4.0
                                        3.0
 a NCCR III scores, including Alaska and Hawaii (except for
   coastal habitat index). Please note that Guam, American
   Samoa, and U.S.Virgin Islands were not assessed as part
   of NCCR III; therefore, no data are available for these
   areas.
 b NCCR IV scores, including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam,
   American Samoa, and U.S.Virgin Islands.
   If Alaska (and Hawaii and the island territories)
were excluded from the NCCR III and NCCR
IV national scores, the sediment quality scores
would be 1.6 (rated poor) for the NCCR III and
1.8 (rated poor) for the NCCR IV (see Table
2-4). Excluding Alaska from the sediment quality
scores would result in a decrease in the sediment
quality index score from 2.3 (rated fair to poor)
in the NCCR I to 1.8  (rated poor) in the NCCR
IV, which could be interpreted as a degradation
in national sediment quality over time. Including
Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories, however,
shows a slight increase in the sediment quality
index score from 2.3 (rated fair) in the NCCR I
to 2.6 (rated fair) in the NCCR IV (Table 2-5).
Although this may appear to demonstrate a slight
improvement in sediment quality over time, the
scores are not significantly different, and the
sediment quality index is rated fair in each report.
   Without the addition of new information for
Alaska, the coastal habitat index score has not
changed since the NCCR II (Table 2-4). Some
new information was also available to assess coastal
habitat changes in the Gulf Coast (Stedman and
Dahl, 2008) and the U.S. Virgin Islands; however,
the new information did not impact the national
index score, and the scores presented in this report
are similar to those presented in the NCCR III.
Some regional improvements in the coastal habitat
index rating occurred in the Northeast Coast region
between the NCCR I (rated fair) and the NCCR
II (rated good to fair); however,  the regions with
most of the wetland acreage in the United States
(Gulf Coast, Southeast Coast, and Great Lakes)
showed little or no change in their index ratings
over this time period. With the inclusion of coastal
habitat data for Alaska, the national  coastal habitat
index assessment increased from 1.7 (rated poor) in
the NCCR II to 2.6 (rated fair)  in the NCCR IV
(Table 2-5).
                                                                                                              53

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          The benthic index, although consistent in
        concept, is calculated differently for each region of
        the United States; therefore, the assumption that
        unsampled regions reflect the same distribution
        pattern of poor conditions as those sampled is not
        supported. The national benthic index score has
        steadily increased over time from 1.5 (rated poor)
        in the NCCRI to 2.4 (rated fair) in the NCCR
        IV. Unlike the water quality and sediment quality
        index scores, this increase in score is not unduly
        influenced by Alaska, as benthic condition data
        were not available for the Alaska region. This
        assessment demonstrates a positive change in the
        benthic condition of U.S. coastal waters since the
        publication of the NCCR I.
          The fish tissue contaminants index shows an
        increase from the NCCR I (3-1; rated fair) to the
        NCCR IV (4.0; rated good to fair) (Table 2-4). If
        the NCCR III  and NCCR IV national scores were
        recalculated without Alaska, Hawaii, and the island
        territories, the fish tissue contaminants scores would
        be 2.9 (rated fair) in the NCCR III and 3-7 (rated
        good to fair) in the NCCR IV (Table 2-5). In the
        NCCR I, fish tissue contaminant concentrations
        were measured only in edible fillets, whereas in
        both the NCCR II and NCCR III, only whole-
        body samples were analyzed. In the NCCR IV, both
        fish fillets and whole-body concentrations were
        measured. Because fillet and whole-body tissues
        have different absorption rates for contaminants,
        the inclusion of both types of samples in this
        assessment could impact the interpretation of
        results. Currently, however, it is not possible to
        adjust the NCCR assessments to either fillet or
        whole-body concentrations and scores. In addition,
        other changes in geographic coverage may have
        resulted in the  apparent increase in the fish tissue
        contaminants score over time (e.g,, changes in
        survey design in the West Coast to exclude the
        riverine portion of the Columbia River; lack of data
        from Massachusetts in the Northeast Coast; lack
        of data from the northern Gulf of Mexico due to
        the impacts of Hurricane Katrina). At present, a
        reasonable interpretation of the assessments is that
        there has  been  a small improvement in contaminant
        levels in fish tissue in U.S.  coastal waters, with the
national fish tissue contaminant index rated fair
for the first three NCCRs and fair to good in this
report.

Coastal Ocean Condition—
Continental United States
   Since 2003, a series of offshore studies have
been conducted to assess the status of ecological
condition and potential stressor impacts throughout
various coastal ocean (shelf) regions of the United
States (Figure 2-12). These survey areas cover
four of the U.S. LMEs: California Current,
the Northeastern U.S. Continental Shelf, the
Southeastern U.S. Continental Shelf, and  the Gulf
of Mexico. They also coincide with various regional
planning areas of the Interim Framework for Effective
Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP
Interim Handbook), developed by the Interagency
Ocean Policy Task Force (2009). Sampling sites are
also included within marine protected areas, such
as NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries (NMSs).
Data from these  studies were available for  inclusion
in the present NCCR for three of the survey
areas: the western U.S.  continental shelf (survey
conducted June 2003), the South Atlantic Bight
(survey conducted March—April 2004), and the
Mid-Atlantic Bight (survey conducted May 2006).
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is located off
the coast of Georgia, within the South Atlantic Bright
(courtesy of NOAA).
54

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   The studies have applied EMAP/NCA
methodologies and indicators, including
probabilistic sampling designs and multiple
measures of water quality, sediment quality, benthic
condition, and fish tissue contamination. Although
ratings of good, fair, and poor for many of these
indices and indicators could not be assigned to
the study areas due to the  lack of appropriate
cutpoints for coastal ocean waters, results of the
various measurements nonetheless provide valuable
information on the status  and patterns of key
ecological characteristics and a quantitative baseline
for evaluating future changes due to natural or
human-induced disturbances. Because the protocols
and indicators are consistent with those used in
previous EMAP/NCA surveys, the studies also
provide a basis for making comparisons between
conditions in offshore waters and those observed
in neighboring coastal waters, thus providing a
more holistic account of ecological conditions and
processes throughout the inshore and offshore
resources of the respective regions. In addition,
for some indicators (e.g., levels of chemical
contaminants and TOC in sediments, dissolved
oxygen levels in the water column, human health-
risk guidelines for chemical contaminants in fish),
cutpoints established previously for coastal waters
could be used as reasonable surrogate guidelines
for evaluating the ecological status of coastal ocean
waters.
   In general, the coastal ocean waters were much
less impacted by human influence than neighboring
estuaries. With some exceptions, conditions for
most indicators were above NCA cutpoints for
good ratings throughout the majority of the coastal
ocean survey areas (Figure 2-13).
.O
 O
O


    Coastal Ocean Survey
    Areas
          Northeast
          Mid-Atlantic
          South Atlantic
          Gulf of Mexico
          West Coast
Figure 2-12.  Coastal ocean survey areas.
                                                                                                             55

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 o
O
O
 §
A. Northeast
        Dissolved Oxygen [
    Sediment Contaminants [
 Total Organic Carbon (TOC) [
        Benthic Condition [
   Fish Tissue Contaminants |

B. Southeast
        Dissolved Oxygen |
    Sediment Contaminants |
 Total Organic Carbon (TOC) [
        Benthic Condition [
   Fish Tissue Contaminants |
                                        C.West Coast
                                                Dissolved Oxygen [
                                            Sediment Contaminants [
                                        Total Organic Carbon (TOC) |
                                                Benthic Condition |
                                           Fish Tissue Contaminants
'1

;l

'1

'1

1

1

1

1

; [ ||
I I I
0 20 40
i i i
60 80 100
il 1

;l

il

il

>|
i i i
0 20 40
il 1

1

1 1

1

1 1
i i i
60 80 100
1

i| II

U III

il


i i i
1


i i i
                                                                   20     40      60      80
                                                                       Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                              100
              Figure 2-13.  Summarized assessment of multiple indices and indicators of ecosystem health for Southeast Coast (A),
              Northeast Coast (B), and West Coast (C) coastal ocean survey areas.
              Note: Refer to corresponding chapters for indicator cutpoints.
              Note: No benthic indices exist for region-wide applications in coastal ocean waters; thus, the evaluation of benthic condition was
              based on co-occurrences of reduced values of key benthic attributes and evidence of poor sediment or water quality Tissue
              assessments are based on the percent of stations where fish were caught.
                In the 2006 Mid-Atlantic Bight assessment,
              there were no major indications of poor sediment
              or water quality at any of the 49 sampling sites.
              The dissolved oxygen, sediment contaminants,
              and sediment TOC component indicators were
              rated good in 100% of the coastal ocean survey
              area, based on the NCA cutpoints. Three of the
              stations where fish were caught were rated fair
              based on concentrations of methylmercury and/or
              PCBs in fish tissue; however, none of the stations
              were rated poor. An analysis of potential biological
              impacts (see text box titled Evaluating Offshore
              Benthic Condition) revealed no  major evidence of an
              impaired benthos linked to measured stressors and
              100% of the survey area was rated as having good
              benthic condition. In addition, no non-indigenous
              species were observed in any of the coastal ocean
              benthic samples, though two species (oligochaete
              Branchiura sowerbyi and clam Corbicula fluminea)
              were observed in corresponding northeastern
                             estuaries sampled as part of NCA efforts in 2003—
                             2006, and coastal ocean occurrences of such species
                             have been documented in the literature (e.g.,
                             reports of the non-indigenous tunicate Didemnum
                             spp. colonizing portions of the shelf off New
                             England and northern Mid-Atlantic Bight [Cohen,
                             2005; Kott, 2004]).
                                Similarly, the 2004 South Atlantic Bight coastal
                             ocean assessment (50 sampling sites) showed no
                             major evidence of poor sediment or water quality.
                             The dissolved oxygen and sediment contaminants
                             component indicators were rated good in 100%
                             of the survey area, based on the NCA cutpoints.
                             The majority (90%) of the area was rated good for
                             sediment TOC, with the remaining 10% rated
                             fair. The fish tissue  contaminants index was rated
                             fair at two of the stations where fish were caught
                             based on concentrations of methylmercury in fish
                             tissue; however, none of the sites were rated poor.
     56

-------
Benthic condition was rated good in 100% of
the survey area. In addition, no non-indigenous
species appeared in any of the coastal ocean benthic
samples. Three species—Corbicula fluminea (Asian
clam), Petrolisthes armatus (green porcelain crab),
and Rangia cuneata (Atlantic rangia)—were found
in corresponding southeastern estuarine samples
collected during NCA 2000-2004 surveys, and
there have been increasing reports in the literature
of other non-indigenous species,  such as the lionfish
Pterois spp. invading offshore waters along the
southeastern United States (Hare and Whitfield,
2003).
   The 2003 West Coast coastal ocean assessment
(257 sampling sites) also showed no major
evidence of poor water quality and indications of
poor sediment quality only in limited areas. The
dissolved oxygen component indicator was rated
fair in 92% of the survey area, with the remaining
area rated good.  The majority of the survey area
(97%) was  rated good for sediment TOC, with
2% of the area rated fair and less than 1 % rated
poor. For the sediment contaminants indicator,
99% of the survey area was rated good, less than
1% was rated fair, and less than 1% was rated poor.
None of the 50 stations where fish were caught
were rated poor, although 10 stations were rated
fair based on concentrations of cadmium and total
PCBs in fish tissue. Benthic condition was rated
good in slightly under 100% of the area, reflecting
limited evidence of an impaired benthos linked to
poor sediment or water quality. There was only one
station off Los Angeles, representing 0.02% of the
survey area, where low benthic species richness and
abundance  were accompanied by high sediment
contamination. In addition, 13 non-indigenous
species, represented mostly by spionid polychaetes
and the ampharetid polychaete Anobothrus
gracilis were observed in coastal ocean benthic
samples, though in limited  numbers (1.2% of the
identified species) and were less common than in
corresponding West Coast estuaries.
   NOAA's five NMSs along the West Coast  also
appeared to be in good ecological condition,  based
on the measured indices and component indicators,
with no evidence of major anthropogenic impacts
or unusual environmental qualities compared to
nearby non-sanctuary waters. Benthic communities
in sanctuaries resembled those in corresponding
non-sanctuary waters, with similarly high levels of
species richness and diversity and low incidence
of non-indigenous species. Most oceanographic
features were also similar between sanctuary
and non-sanctuary locations. Exceptions (e.g.,
higher concentrations of some nutrients in
sanctuaries along the California coast) appeared
to be attributable to natural upwelling events
in the area at the time of sampling. In addition,
sediments within the sanctuaries were relatively
uncontaminated, with none  of the samples having
any measured chemical in excess of corresponding
ERM values (although chemicals exceeded ERL
values in some cases).
   The lack of concordance between reduced
benthic attributes and measures of poor sediment
or water quality suggest that all  three coastal ocean
assessment regions were in generally good condition
biologically,  with lower-end values of biological
attributes representing parts  of a normal reference
range controlled by natural factors. Alternatively,
it is possible that for some of these coastal ocean
sites, the lower values of benthic variables reflect
symptoms of disturbance induced by other
unmeasured stressors. In an effort to be consistent
with the underlying concepts and protocols of
earlier EMAP and NCA efforts, the indicators
in this study included measures of stressors, such
as chemical contaminants and symptoms of
eutrophication, which often  are associated with
adverse biological impacts in shallower estuarine
and inland ecosystems. However, there may be
other sources of human-induced stress in these
offshore systems, particularly those causing physical
disruption of the seafloor (e.g., commercial bottom
trawling, cable placement, minerals extraction)  that
pose greater  risks to living resources and that have
not been captured adequately. Future monitoring
efforts in these offshore areas should include
indicators of such alternative sources  of disturbance.
.O
 O
O

                                                                                                           57

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 o
O
O
 §
Evaluating Offshore Benthic Condition
Multi-metric benthic indices are often used as indicators of pollution-induced degradation of the
benthos (see review by Diaz et al., 2004). An important feature is the ability to combine multiple
biological attributes into a single measure that maximizes the ability to distinguish between degraded
vs. non-degraded benthic condition, while accounting for the influence of natural controlling factors.
Although a related index has been developed for the southern California mainland shelf (Smith et
al., 2001) and several estuarine regions (e.g.,Weisberg et al., 1997; Llanso et al., 2002a and 2002b for
mid-Atlantic states and Chesapeake Bay; Van Dolah et al.,  1999 for southeastern estuaries), there
is currently no such index available for region-wide applications in any of the three offshore survey
areas. In the absence of a benthic index, efforts were made to assess potential stressor impacts on
the benthos by looking for co-occurrences of reduced values of key biological attributes (numbers
of taxa, diversity, and abundance) and synoptically measured indicators of poor sediment or water
quality. Low values of species richness, H', and density were defined for the purpose of this analysis
as the lower I Oth percentile of observed values within a region. Evidence of poor sediment or water
quality was defined as poor ratings for the sediment contamimants, sedimentTOC, and dissolved
oxgen component indicators based on NCA cutpoints.
             Large Marine Ecosystem
             Fisheries
                LMEs are defined as large regions, on the
             order of 77,000 square miles or greater, extending
             from river basins and estuaries to continental
             shelf margins and the outer edges of major
             current systems. LMEs have distinct bathymetry,
             hydrography, productivity, and trophically
             linked populations. Sixty-four LMEs have been
             defined globally, which account for about  80% of
             global fisheries production. The assessment and
             management of LMEs is based on five modules:
             1) productivity, 2) fish and fisheries, 3) pollution
             and ecosystem health, 4) socioeconomics,  and 5)
             governance.
                Eleven LMEs are found in the waters bordering
             U.S. states and island territories around the world
             (Figure 2-14). The climates of these LMEs vary
             from arctic to tropical, and their productivities
             range from low to high, based on global estimates
             of primary production (i.e.,  phytoplankton). Some
             of these LMEs (i.e., the Northeast U.S. Continental
                                            Shelf, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, California
                                            Current, Gulf of Alaska, Chukchi Sea, West Bering
                                            Sea, and Beaufort Sea LMEs) border multiple
                                            countries. As a result, information about fishery
                                            stocks in some of the LMEs (e.g., the Caribbean
                                            Sea, Chukchi Sea, West Bering Sea, Beaufort Sea
                                            LMEs) is incomplete. In addition, several of the
                                            U.S. island territories in the Pacific Ocean are not
                                            located within an LME. The fisheries in the waters
                                            surrounding these territories are managed on a
                                            regional level with the Insular Pacific-Hawaiian
                                            LME as the NMFS Western Pacific Region.
                                              The nation's interests in the ocean and our
                                            coasts support a growing number of significant
                                            and often competing uses and activities, including
                                            commercial, recreational, cultural, energy, scientific,
                                            conservation, and homeland and national security
                                            activities. Combined, these activities profoundly
                                            influence and benefit coastal, regional, and national
                                            economies and cultures. Human uses of the ocean
                                            and coasts  are expanding at a rate that challenges
                                            our ability to plan and manage them under the
                                            current sector-by-sector approach.
     58

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                                     Chukchi  /-""
                                       Sea  V
                                              Beaufort
                                                Sea
     West Bering
         Sea
          Insular Pacific-
                                                                                      Northeast U.S.
                                                                                     Continental Shelf
                                                        Conterminous
                                                        United States
              California
               Current"
                                                                                    Southeast U.S.
                                                                                   Continental Shelf
                                                                                      Puerto  U.S.Virgin
                                                                                       Rico     Islands
                                                                  Gulf of
                                                                  Mexico
                                                                                •0=
                                                                             Caribbean
                                                                                Sea
Relevant Large Marine Ecosystems
Associated U.S. land masses
                                                                                                                     .O
                                                                                                                      O
                                                                                                                     O

Figure 2-14. U.S. states and island territories are bordered by II LMEs (NOAA, 201 Ob).
   As mentioned previously in this chapter, in
2009, the White House Council of Environmental
Quality established the priority objectives of the
CMSP Interim Handbook (Interim Framework for
Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning). The
framework articulates national goals for the CMSP
and describes how coastal and marine plans will
be regional in scope and developed cooperatively
among regional  governance structures and federal,
state, tribal, and local authorities, with substantial
stakeholder and public input. The CMSP is a
comprehensive,  adaptive,  integrated, ecosystem-
based, and transparent spatial-planning process,
based on sound  science, for analyzing current and
anticipated uses of ocean and coastal areas in the
                                          United States. This approach identifies areas most
                                          suitable for various types or classes of activities in
                                          order to reduce conflicts among uses, minimize
                                          environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses,
                                          and preserve critical ecosystem services to meet
                                          economic, environmental, security, and social
                                          objectives. Given the importance of conducting
                                          the CMSP from an ecosystem-based perspective,
                                          combined with the likely involvement of existing
                                          regional governance structures in developing plans,
                                          a consistent planning scale with which to initiate
                                          the CMSP is at the LME scale (see http://www.lme.
                                          noaa.gov/). Since NCA data are largely aligned with
                                          the spatial extent of the LMEs, they may also be
                                          incorporated into the CMSP Interim Handbook.
                                                                                                               59

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 o
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 §
   Fisheries in the United States are critically
important, providing numerous socioeconomic
benefits, including food, direct and indirect
employment, and recreational opportunities. From
2003 to 2006, commercial fisheries in the United
States generated nearly $14 billion in ex-vessel
revenues. The highest-grossing fishery during this
period was American lobster, which generated over
$1.4 billion. Two other invertebrate species also
ranked within the top five fisheries, sea scallops
and white shrimp, which yielded over $1.3 billion
and over $770 million,  respectively. Two demersal
(bottom-dwelling) species, both caught  on the
West Coast, also are within the top five  commercial
fisheries in the United States: the walleye pollock
and the Pacific halibut, which generated over $1.1
billion and $720 million, respectively, from 2003
to 2006. Figure 2-15 outlines the revenues and
landings of the top U.S. commercial fisheries. In
2004, the United States ranked third for fishery
landings and fourth for exports, internationally.
The Alaskan LME complex is the most productive
regional ecosystem in the United States, with an
average yield over 2.6 million tons from 2004
through 2006, mostly generated within the
groundfish (bottom-dwelling) fisheries (i.e., Pacific
halibut, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, rockfishes, and
flatfishes). Top recreational species are striped bass,
croaker, spot, and sea trout (NMFS, 2010).
                          7,000,000
                          6,000,000 -
                                                                                        1,600
                                                                                                   - 1,400
                                                                                                   - 1,200
                                                                                                   - 1,000  E-
                                                                                                   - 800   o
                                                                                                   - 200
                                      American
                                       Lobster
                                                              Shrimp
                     Pacific
                    Halibut
                                                               Species
             Figure 2-15. Top commercial fisheries in the United States: landings (metric tons) and value (million dollars) from 2003
             to 2006 (NMFS, 2010).
     60

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   The NMFS provides regular assessment offish
stock status to determine a stock's health (i.e., if
it is overfished or not). The status of 33% of U.S.
fishery stocks is unknown or undefined. Of the 144
known stock groups, 28% are overfished, 10% are
rebuilding, less than 1% is approaching overfished,
and 60% are not overfished. The majority of
overfished stocks occur among the Northeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME demersal species. Many
of the stocks (37%) that have a known status and
have experienced decreases in landings are below
the biomass level that would support the maximum
sustainable yield (NMFS, 2009b). Landings for a
significant portion of the stocks decreased because
their population sizes  can no longer support
historical catch levels.
   A majority of the stocks classified as overfished
are currently under rebuilding plans and have not
yet been rebuilt to above  the overfished threshold.
Although rebuilding of overfished stocks can take
many years—depending on the stock's intrinsic
natural capacity  to grow,  its initial level of
depletion, and the specific management measures
in place—the process  of rebuilding overfished
stocks is underway. Overall, the U.S. share of
fishery resources has held fairly steady in recent
years, with, average catches from 2004—2006,
including commercial, recreational, and discards, at
                        61% of the estimated U.S. maximum sustainable
                        yield. The largest increases in terms of tonnage
                        occurred for Alaskan LME groundfish fisheries
                        (156,930 metric tons) and Pacific Coast and Alaska
                        pelagic fisheries (52,784 metric tons). In terms
                        of percentage, Atlantic anadromous (migratory)
                        fisheries also had a significant increase (77%).
                        Large tonnage decreases occurred for Southeast
                        U.S Continental Shelf LME menhaden fisheries
                        (-208,000 metric tons) and Pacific highly
                        migratory pelagic fisheries (-108,158 metric tons).
                        Large percentage decreases were also experienced by
                        Western Pacific invertebrates (-100% due to fishery
                        closure) and shellfish (-50%) from the Alaskan
                        LMEs (NMFS, 2009b).
                          Figure 2-16 shows landings of the walleye
                        pollock commercial fishery in the United States
                        from 1965 to 2006. The walleye pollock and the
                        other top U.S.  fisheries are displayed on separate
                        graphs  because catches of pollock are too large to
                        show on the same scale as the rest of the top U.S.
                        fisheries. The U.S. pollock fishery, which largely
                        began in the mid-1980s, has current landings of
                        nearly 1.6 million metric tons. Since the late 1980s,
                        this fishery has had landings over 1 million metric
                        tons, and despite annual fluctuations, landings have
                        increased by over 500,000 metric tons since the late
                        1990s (NMFS,  2010).
          1,600,000
          1,200,000
        ~  800,000
        ti
           400,000
                                                                7
                1950
I960
1970
1980
1990
2000
                                                      Year
                 —  Walleye Pollock

Figure 2-16. Total U.S. commercial landings of walleye pollock from 1965 to 2006, metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
                                                                      .O
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           Landings in the other top U.S. commercial
        fisheries are presented in Figure 2-17- All three
        invertebrate fisheries represented  (American lobster,
        sea scallop, and white shrimp) have had increased
        catches since 1950. Amongst the  four fisheries
        represented in Figure 2-17, the largest increase in
        landings occurred in the white shrimp fishery (for
        which data were not available from 1950 to 1961
        and from 1972 to 1977). Catches of white shrimp
        increased from 15,000 metric tons in 1962 to
        nearly 70,000 metric tons in 2006. The American
        lobster fishery increased steadily from 10,000
        metric tons in 1950 to just over 40,000 metric
        tons in 2006. During this same period,  catches
        in the sea scallop fishery increased from 10,000
        metric tons to 25,000 metric tons, resurging over
        the past several years following landing decreases in
        the 1990s. Landings in the Pacific halibut fishery
        underwent a decrease from the early 1960s to
        1980, but increased again with recent landings over
        30,000 metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
                                                 Nationally, sea scallops were the second-most valuable
                                                 commercial fishery from 2003 to 2006 (courtesy of
                                                 Florida Department of Environmental Protection).
c
'D
                   80,000
                   60,000
                S

                   40,000
                   20,000
                        1950
                        I960
                                   American Lobster
1970
1980
1990
                                                               Year
                                                       Sea Scallop
                                                         White Shrimp
2000
                                                                                          Pacific Halibut
        Figure 2-17. Landings of the top U.S. commercial fisheries from 1950 to 2006, metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
62

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Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   A total of 117 fish consumption advisories were
in effect for the estuarine and coastal marine waters
of the United States in 2006, including about 75%
of the coastal waters of the conterminous 48 states
(Figure 2-18). In addition, 29 fish consumption
advisories were in effect for the Great Lakes and
their connecting waters. An advisory may represent
one waterbody or one type of waterbody within
a state's jurisdiction and may cover one or more
species offish. Some advisories are issued as a single
statewide advisory for all estuarine or marine waters
within a state (Table 2-6). Although the statewide
coastal advisories have placed a large proportion
of the nation's coastal waters under advisory, these
advisories are often issued for the larger-size classes
of predatory species (e.g., bluefish, king mackerel)
because larger, older individuals have had more
time to be exposed to and accumulate one  or more
chemical contaminants in their tissues than younger
individuals (U.S. EPA, 2007c). Figure 2-18 shows
the number offish consumption advisories active in
2006 for U.S. coastal waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
.O
 O
O

                                                         Number of Consumption
                                                         Advisories per USGS
                                                         Cataloging Unit in 2006
  Northern
   Mariana
   Islands
            Guam
                      America Samoa
                                           Hawaii
         10+
         _     .  _                  Puerto Rico
         Statewide Coastline and
         Estuarine Advisory (includes Connecticut)
Figure 2-18. The number offish consumption advisories active in 2006 for U.S. coastal waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
                                                                                                            63

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               Table 2-6.  Summary of States3 with Statewide Fish Advisories for Coastal and Estuarine Waters
               (U.S.EPA,2007c)
 o
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 §
State
Alabama
Connecticut
Florida
               Georgia
               Louisiana
               Maine

               Massachusetts

               Mississippi
               New Hampshire

               New Jersey
               New York
               North Carolina
               Rhode Island
               South Carolina
               Texas
Pollutants        Species under Advisory
Mercury         King mackerel
PCBs            Bluefish
Mercury         Almaco jack, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic spadefish, Atlantic stingray, Atlantic
                 thread herring, barracuda, black drum, black grouper, blackfin tuna, bluefish,
                 bluntnose stingray, bonefish, cobia, crevalle jack, dolphin, fantail mullet, Florida
                 pompano, gafftopsail catfish, gag grouper, gray snapper, greater amberjack, Gulf
                 flounder, hardhead catfish, hogfish, king mackerel, ladyfish, lane snapper, little
                 tunny, lookdown, mutton snapper, pigfish, pinfish, red drum, red grouper, red
                 snapper, sand seatrout, scamp, shark, sheepshead, silver perch, skipjack tuna,
                 snook, snowy grouper, southern flounder, southern kingfish, Spanish mackerel,
                 spot, spotted seatrout, striped mojarra, striped mullet, tarpon, tripletail,
                 vermillion snapper, wahoo, weakfish, white grunt, white mullet, yellowedge
                 grouper, yellowfin tuna, yellowtail snapper
Mercury         King mackerel
Mercury         Blackfin tuna, cobia, greater amberjack king mackerel
Dioxins,          Bluefish, king mackerel, lobster (tomalley/hepatopancreas), shark
Mercury, PCBs    shellfish, striped bass, swordfish, tilefish, all other fish
Mercury, PCBs    Bluefish, king mackerel, lobster (tomalley/hepatopancreas), shark, swordfish,
                 tilefish, tuna
                   Mercury
                   Mercury, PCBs,
                   Dioxins
                   PCBs, Dioxins
                   Cadmium,
                   Dioxins, PCBs
                   (Total)
                   Mercury
                   PCBs, Mercury
                   Mercury
                   Mercury
                 r^ctb              i ici <-ui y          i\n ig i i id<-Kci ci
                 Hawaii has a statewide mercury advisory for several species of marine fish
                 King mackerel
                 Bluefish, king mackerel, lobster (tomalley/hepatopancreas), shark, striped bass,
                 swordfish, tilefish, tuna, all other shellfish, all other ocean fish
                 American eel, bluefish, lobster (tomalley/hepatopancreas), striped bass
                 Blue crab (hepatopancreas), lobster (tomalley/hepatopancreas)
                 Almaco jack, banded rudderfish, black drum, blue marlin, cobia,
                 crab-dungeness, crevalle jack, croaker, dolphin, flounder, gag grouper, greater
                 amberjack, grouper, halibut, herring, jacksmelt, king mackerel, ladyfish, little
                 tunny, lobster, orange roughy oysters, Pacific cod, perch, pollock, pompano, red
                 drum, red grouper, salmon, scallops, shark, sheepshead, shrimp, snowy grouper,
                 southern kingfish, Spanish mackerel, spot, spotted seatrout, swordfish, tilefish,
                 tripletail, tuna, white grunt, whitefish
                 Bluefish, shark striped bass, swordfish
                 King mackerel, swordfish
                 King mackerel
      64

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I
o
U
      The number and geographic extent of
   advisories can serve as indicators of the level
   of contamination in estuarine and marine fish
   and shellfish, but a number of other factors
   also must be taken into account. For example,
   the methods and intensity of sampling and the
   contaminant levels at which advisories  are issued
   often differ among the states. In the states with
   statewide coastal advisories, one advisory may
   cover many thousands  of square miles of coastal
   waters and many hundreds of miles of shoreline
   waters. Although advisories in U.S. estuarine,
   Great Lakes, and coastal marine waters have
   been issued  for a total of 21 individual chemical
   contaminants, most advisories issued have resulted
   from four primary contaminants (i.e., PCBs;
   mercury; p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
   [DDT] and its degradation products [p,p'-
   dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD) and
   p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)];
   and dioxins/furans) or  have not identified the
   specific contaminant (Figure 2-19; Tables 2-7 and
   2-8). The four primary chemical contaminant
   groups were responsible,  at least in part, for 79%
   of all fish consumption advisories in effect in
   U.S. estuarine and coastal marine waters in 2006,
   while unspecified contaminants effected 19% of
   all estuarine and coastal marine advisories. The
   PCBs

  Other

 Mercury

  Dioxin

   DDT
and DDE
              10  20   30   40  SO   60   70  80   90  100
                   Percent of Fish Advisories Listed
                       for Each Contaminant
   Figure 2-19.  Pollutants responsible for fish
   consumption advisories in U.S. coastal and estuarine
   waters. An advisory can be issued for more than one
   contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than
   100 (U.S. EPA,2007c).
                                                      four major chemical contaminants are biologically
                                                      accumulated (bioaccumulated) in the tissues
                                                      of aquatic organisms to concentrations many
                                                      times higher than concentrations in sea water
                                                      (Figure 2-20). In addition, concentrations of these
                                                      contaminants in the tissues of aquatic organisms
                                                      may be increased at each successive level of the
                                                      food web. As a result, top predators in a food web
                                                      may have concentrations of these chemicals in their
                                                      tissues that can be a million times higher than the
                                                      concentrations in seawater. A direct comparison
                                                      of fish advisory contaminants and sediment
                                                      contaminants is not possible because states often
                                                      issue advisories for groups of chemicals; however,
                                                      4 of the top 10 contaminants associated with fish
                                                      advisories (PCBs, dioxins, DDT, and dieldrin) are
                                                      among the contaminants most often responsible for
                                                      a Tier  1 National Sediment Inventory classification
                                                      (i.e., associated adverse effects  to aquatic life or
                                                      human health are probable) of waterbodies based
                                                      on potential human health effects (U.S. EPA,
                                                      2007c, 2004a).
                                                                                         Humans
                                                                 Bald Eagle
                                                             Cormorant
                                                              Lake Trout
Chinook Salmon
       Sculpin


Bottom Feeders
                                                                              Chub
                                                                                                  Smelt
                                                                                               Plankton
                                                                Bacteria and Fungi
                                                                                       Dead Plants
                                                                                       and Animals
                                                      Figure 2-20. Bioaccumulation process (U.S. EPA, I995b).
                                                      .O
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              Table 2-7. The Four Bioaccumulative Contaminants Responsible, at Least in Part, for 79% of Fish
              Consumption Advisories in Estuarine and Coastal Waters in 2006—U.S. Coastal Waters (Marine)
              (U.S.EPA,2007c)
 Contaminant
PCBs
Mercury
              DDT ODD, and
              DDE
              Dioxins and furans
              Not specified
Number of
Advisories
    74
    30
                       14
                       25
                       22
Comments
Seven northeastern states (C~T, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NX RJ) had statewide advisories.
Twelve states (AL, FL, GA, LA, MA, ME, MS, NC, NH, Rl, SC.TX) had statewide
advisories in their coastal marine waters; six of these states also had statewide
advisories for estuarine waters. Nine states and the Territory of American Samoa
had advisories for specific portions of their coastal waters.
All DDT advisories in effect were in California (12), Delaware (I), or the
Territory of American Samoa (I).
Statewide dioxin advisories were in effect in four states (ME, NH, NJ, NY). Six
states and the Territory of Guam had dioxin advisories for specific portions of
their coastal waters.
The majority (I 8) of the advisories issued for non-specific contaminants are new
advisories forWashington's Puget Sound. The additional four advisories apply to
other specified coastal waters in CA, FL, and WA.
              Table 2-8. The Four Bioaccumulative Contaminants Responsible, at Least in Part, for 79% of Fish
              Consumption Advisories in Estuarine and Coastal Waters in 2006—U.S. Great Lakes Waters (U.S.
              EPA,2007c)
              Contaminant
              PCBs

              Mercury
              DDT ODD, and
              DDE
              Dioxins
                    Number of
                    Advisories
                        29

                        13
                        15
              Comments
              Six states (Ml, MN, NY, OH, PA.WI) had PCB advisories for all five Great Lakes
              and several connecting waters.
              Three states (Ml, PA, Wl) had mercury advisories in their Great Lakes waters
              for lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, as well as for several connecting
              waters.
              One state (Ml) had a DDT advisory in effect for Lake Michigan.

              Dioxin advisories were in effect  in three states  (Ml, NYWI) for all five Great
              Lakes and several connecting waters.

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Beach Advisories and  Closures

How many notification actions were reported nation-
ally between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 2-9 presents the number of total beaches,
number of monitored beaches, number of beaches
affected by notification actions, and percentage
of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions nationally between 2004 and 2008.
During this time, between 26% and 32% of the
monitored beaches were affected by notification
actions. Although the percentage of monitored
beaches affected by notification actions remained
at approximately 32% between 2006 and 2008,
the number of notification actions has increased
                 as monitoring efforts have increased (U.S. EPA,
                 2009d). Fluctuations in total and monitored
                 beaches may be a result of alterations to state
                 funding for monitoring, beach consolidation
                 or splitting, or implementation of new QA
                 procedures. In addition to reported increases in
                 microbial contamination, interannual changes in
                 notification actions may be a result of seasonal
                 weather conditions or changes  to the reporting
                 or monitoring processes. For information on the
                 EPA performance criteria for state, tribal, or local
                 governments for beach notification or monitoring
                 programs, see http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
                 beaches/grants/guidance/.
                                                                                                                  o
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Table 2-9. Beach Notification Actions, National, 2004-2008* (U.S. EPA,2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by
2004
5,208
3,574
942
2005
6,064
4,025
1,109
2006
6,599
3,771
1,201
2007
6,237
3,647
1,170
2008
6,684
3,740
1,210
 notification actions
 Percentage of monitored beaches
 affected by notification actions
26%
28%
32%
32%
32%
 a This table includes data from Puerto Rico and Hawaii in 2004 and from American Samoa, Guam, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands
   beginning in 2005.
Rialto Beach is located in Olympic National Park in Washington (courtesy of NPS).
                                                                                                           67

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What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 2-10 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored beaches nationally affected by
various pollution sources for 2007, developed by
aggregating notification actions by state. Although
advisories and closures were issued for a number
of different reasons, storm-related runoff was the
most common single reason, affecting 35% of the
monitored beaches in 2007- Various unidentified,
unknown, and not investigated pollution sources
affected 66% of total monitored beaches (U.S.
EPA, 2009d).

How long  were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Although 32% of monitored beaches nationally
were subject to a  notification action in 2007,
these advisories were not long lasting. About
50% of beach notification actions in the United
States lasted 2 days or less, and just over 40% of
the notifications were issued for a period lasting
between 3 to 7 days. The remaining 7% of actions
were issued for more than 8 days, although only 1 %
lasted above 30 days (U.S. EPA, 2009d).
                        More information on the EPA's
                        BEACH Program is available
                        online:
                        • BEACH homepage: http://water.epa.
                          gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
                          index.cfm/.
                        • Annual national summaries: http://
                          www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/
                          seasons/.
Table 2- 1 0. Reasons for Beach Advisories,
Nationally, 2007a (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Reason for
Advisories



Storm-related runoff
Other and/or
unidentified sources
No known pollution
sources
Pollution sources not
investigated
Wildlife
Sanitary/combined
sewer overflow
Boat discharge
Septic system leakage
Non-storm related
runoff
Agricultural runoff
Publicly-owned
treatment works
Sewer line leak or
break
Concentrated animal
feeding operations
Total
Number of
Monitored
Beaches
Affected
1,267
1,061

698

644

279
127
99
69
66

28
28
27

9

Percent
of Total
Monitored
Beaches
Affected
35%
29%

19%

18%

8%
4%
3%
2%
2%

1%
1%
1%

< 1%

                                                        Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple pollution
                                                        sources.
                                                        a Data from Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American
                                                         Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands was
                                                         not available for this yean

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   Based on data collected between 2003 and 2006 from the coastal waters
of the coastal states of the conterminous United States, Southeastern Alaska,
Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, the
overall condition of the nation's coastal waters is rated fair. The water quality
index and its component indicators are predominantly rated fair or good for
regions throughout the nation, although 42% of the nation's coastal waters
experienced a moderate-to-high degree of water quality degradation and were
rated fair or poor, resulting in an overall national water quality rating of fair. The
sediment quality index for the nation's coastal waters is rated fair, with 10% of
the coastal area rated poor for sediment quality. The benthic and coastal habitat
condition indices are both rated fair for the nation's coastal waters, while the fish
tissue contaminants index is rated good to fair.
   A traditional trend analysis cannot be performed on the data presented in the
NCCR series because the coastal resources included in the survey have changed
for each assessment; however, the overall condition scores for each region have
either remained the same or improved since the first NCCR was released in
2001 (with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories, where
only one or  two scores are available). Similarly, the national overall coastal
condition score has improved, from 2.0 with the first NCCR to 3.0 with this
fourth edition of the NCCR (or from 2.0 to 2.5, if the scores from NCCR III
and IV were recalculated without Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories).
   Since 2003, a series of offshore studies have been conducted to assess the
status of ecological condition and potential stressor impacts throughout various
coastal-ocean regions of the United States. In general,  results of the offshore
studies have shown that these coastal-ocean waters are much less impacted by
human influence than neighboring estuaries. With some exceptions, conditions
for most indicators were above estuarine cutpoints for good ratings throughout
the majority of the survey areas. Results of biological sampling were generally
good, but sources of human-induced stress such as commercial bottom trawling,
cable placement, and minerals extraction are suspected, and future monitoring
efforts in these offshore areas should include indicators of these types of
disturbances.
   Fisheries in the United States are critically important, providing numerous
socioeconomic benefits, including food, direct and indirect employment, and
recreational  opportunities. From 2003 to 2006, the highest grossing fishery in
the nation was American lobster, which generated over $1.4 billion. Two other
invertebrate species, sea scallops and white shrimp, also ranked within the top
five fisheries. The walleye pollock and the Pacific halibut,  both caught on the
West Coast, round out the list of the top five commercial fisheries in the United
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                                                                                               O
                                                                                               o
                                                                                              O
O
 O
                                                                                        69

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Summary
     States from 2003 to 2006. Of the 144 known fisheries stock groups, 28% are
     overfished, 10% are rebuilding, less than 1 % is approaching overfished, and
     60% are not overfished. The majority of overfished stocks occur among the
     Northeast region demersal species. Although rebuilding of overfished stocks can
     take many years depending on the stock's  intrinsic natural capacity to grow, its
     initial level of depletion, and the specific management measures in place, the
     process of rebuilding overfished stocks is underway.
       Contamination in the coastal waters of the United States has affected human
     uses of these waters. A total of 117 fish consumption advisories were in effect for
     the estuarine and coastal marine waters of the United States in 2006, including
     about 75% of the coastal waters of the conterminous 48 states. In addition,
     29 fish consumption advisories were in effect for the Great Lakes and their
     connecting waters. Although statewide coastal advisories have placed a large
     proportion of the nation's coastal waters under advisory,  these advisories are
     often issued only for the larger-size classes of predatory species. Fish advisories
     in U.S. estuarine, Great Lakes, and coastal marine waters have been issued for a
     total of 21 individual chemical contaminants, but most advisories are for PCBs,
     mercury, DDT and its degradation products, and dioxins/furans. The percentage
     of monitored beaches affected by notification actions remained at approximately
     32% between 2006 and 2008, but the number of notification actions has
     increased as monitoring efforts have increased. Beach advisories and closures
     were issued for a number of different reasons, but storm-related runoff was the
     most common single reason, affecting  35% of the monitored beaches in 2007.

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                  Northeast  Coast Coastal  Condition
          As shown in Figure 3-1, the overall condition
        of the coastal waters of the Northeast Coast region
        is rated fair, with an overall condition score of 2.6.
        The coastal habitat index for the Northeast Coast
        region is rated good to fair, the water quality and
        sediment quality indices are rated fair, the  fish tissue
        contaminants index is rated fair to poor, and the
        benthic index is rated poor. Figure 3-2 provides a
        summary of the percentage of coastal area  in good,
        fair, poor, or missing categories for each index and
        component indicator. This assessment is based on
        data collected primarily in 2003  through 2006
        from 1,119 water, 1,024 sediment, and 902 benthic
        monitoring locations throughout the Northeast
        Coast coastal waters.
                        Overall Condition
                       Northeast Coast (2.6)
     Water Quality Index (3)

     Sediment Quality Index (3)

     Benthic Index (I)

     Coastal Habitat Index (4)
     Fish Tissue Contaminants
     Index (2)
        Figure 3-1. The overall condition of Northeast Coast
        coastal waters is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
        -•
Please refer to Chapter I for
information about how these
assessments were made, the outpoints
used to develop the rating for each
index and component indicator, and the
limitations of the available data.
                                              Water Quality Index

                                                   Nitrogen (DIN)

                                                  Phosphorus(DIP)

                                                     Chlorophyll a

                                                     Water Clarity

                                                  Dissolved Oxygen

                                            Sediment Quality Index

                                                  Sediment Toxicity

                                              Sediment Contaminants

                                           Total Organic  Carbon (TOC)

                                                   Benthic Index
                                                                        Fish Tissue
                                                                 Contaminants Index
:
                     n    IT
                                                                   20    40    60     80
                                                                      Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                                             100
                                                             Good   Fair
                                                                         Poor
                                                                                 Missing
                                                             Figure 3-2.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                             ranking for all indices and component indicators—
                                                             Northeast Coast region (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                             The Morse River Inlet, ME, is located within the Acadian
                                                             Province (courtesy of David Sinson, NOAA).
72

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   The Northeast Coast refers to the coastal and
estuarine waters of Maine through Virginia,
including Chesapeake Bay. A great diversity in
landscapes and aquatic habitats is evident along
this coastline, so much so that the region is divided
into two biogeographical provinces—the Acadian
Province and the Virginian Province. The Acadian
Province lies north of Cape Cod, MA, comprising
lands scoured by glaciers thousands of years ago.
The region is currently a mountainous,  forested
landscape, with thin soils and relatively small
watersheds that drain quickly to rocky coasts.  The
estuaries of the Acadian Province are small, deep,
open to the sea, and subject to large tidal ranges
of 7 to 13 feet, which promote effective tidal
mixing. This combination of small watersheds,
open estuaries, and  rapid flushing times protects
the Acadian Province coastline somewhat from
landscape alteration and urban pollution. In
contrast, the Virginian Province—Cape Cod
through Chesapeake Bay—was less directly affected
by glaciers and now features expansive watersheds
that are drained by large riverine systems such as
the Hudson, Delaware, and Susquehanna rivers.
The major estuaries of the Virginian Province  are
comprised of drowned  river basins that filled with
water and sediment as the sea level rose following
the ice age. They are relatively shallow and poorly
flushed, with tidal ranges less than 7 feet (less  than
3 feet in Chesapeake Bay). As a consequence,  the
Virginian Province estuaries are very vulnerable
to the pressures of a highly populated and
industrialized coastal region. This chapter reports
on the  condition of the Northeast Coast as a whole,
but will highlight differences in the two provinces.
Note, however, that Chesapeake Bay, the largest
estuary in the nation, represents nearly  60% of
the coastal area in the Northeast; therefore, the
area-weighted  statistical summaries are heavily
influenced by this major estuary.
   The Northeast Coast region is the most densely
populated coastal region in the United States. In
2006, the coastal population of the Northeast Coast
region was the largest in the country, with 43-2
million people, representing 33% of the nation's
total coastal population. Although coastal counties
along the Northeast Coast showed one of the lowest
percent increases in population (17%) between
1980 and 2006, the region gained the second-
largest number of people (almost 7 million) of all
U.S. regions during this time  (Figure 3-3). Over
the same time period, the population density in
the coastal counties of the Northeast Coast has also
increased by about 18%,  from 713 to 841  persons
per square mile. Figure 3-4 presents population
density data for the Northeast Coast region's coastal
counties  in 2006 (NOEP, 2010).
   Although the data presented in this chapter are
summarized on a regional level, they are publicly
accessible and can be used to summarize conditions
by biogeographic province, state, and—where
sufficient data are available—waterbody. The
National Estuary Program Coastal Condition Report
(U.S. EPA, 2006) is an example of how these data
may be assessed at a finer scale.
.O
 O
O
Coastal Population (thousands)
3U.UUU
40,000
30,000 1


1980 1990 2000
Year





2006 2008

                                                      Figure 3-3.  Population of coastal counties in Northeast
                                                      Coast states, 1980-2008 (NOER 2010).
                                                                                                            73

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                        The NCA monitoring data used
                        in this assessment are based on
                        single-day measurements collected at
                        sites throughout the U.S. coastal waters
                        (excluding the Great Lakes) during a
                        9- to 12-week period  during the
                        summer. Data were not collected
                        during other time periods.
O
                                  Population Density by County
                                  (people/square mile) 2006
                                  CH  Less than 1,000
                                  CH  1,000 to less than 6,000
                                  CH  6,000 to less than 20,645
                                  CH  Greater than 20,645
             Figure 3-4. Population density in the Northeast Coast
             region's coastal counties in 2006 (NOER 2010).
Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal Condition
   All sampling sites that contributed data for
this report were selected at random according to
probabilistic sampling designs and were primarily
sampled during the summer months of 2003
through 2006 by states participating in the NCA.
However, there were exceptions to this scheme.
Stations in northern Maine and in Connecticut
tributaries sampled in 2002 were also included in
the analysis to provide complete coverage at these
locations. Also, only NCA data collected in 2005
and 2006 were available to evaluate Chesapeake
Bay. Generally, the Northeast Coast is rated in
terms of the percentage of coastal area in good, fair,
or poor condition, or for which data were missing.
An exception to this method of areal weighting
was the fish tissue contaminants index, for which
survey results were unweighted and reported as the
percentage of stations where tissue samples  were
analyzed.
           The sampling conducted in the
           EPA NCA survey has been designed
           to estimate the percent of coastal
           area (nationally or in a region) in
           varying conditions and is displayed as
           pie diagrams. Many of the figures in
           this report illustrate environmental
           measurements made at specific
           locations (colored dots on maps);
           however, these dots (color) represent
           the value of the index specifically at the
           time of sampling. Additional sampling
           would be required to define temporal
           variability and to confirm environmental
           condition at specific locations.
     74

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     ! Water Quality Index
   The water quality index for the coastal waters
of the Northeast Coast region is rated fair, with
9% of the coastal area rated poor and 53% of
the area rated fair for water quality condition
(Figure 3-5). The water quality index was based on
measurements of five component indicators: DIN,
DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and dissolved
oxygen. Differences in  the water quality index were
evident along the Northeast Coast, and patterns
have remained remarkably consistent compared
with the previous two NCCRs (U.S. EPA, 2004b,
2008c).
   The water quality index exhibits a strong
gradient along the Northeast  Coast (Figure 3-5).
Good conditions predominate in the well-mixed,
open estuaries of the Acadian Province, whereas fair
conditions were more likely found in the poorly
flushed, highly settled Virginian Province estuaries
that are more susceptible to eutrophication. Pockets
of poor water quality are apparent at stations  in
Great Bay, NH; Narragansett Bay, RI; Long Island
Sound; New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) Harbor;
the Delaware Estuary; and the western tributaries
of Chesapeake Bay. These hot spots largely reflect
patterns of population  density (see Figure 3-4) and
industrial and agricultural activity in the Northeast.
                                            Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are the most
                                            common marine mammal in the nearshore waters
                                            along the Atlantic coast (courtesy of NOAA).
Eutrophication refers to a process in which the nutrient supply to a waterbody increases over
time, resulting in enhanced growth of aquatic plants, especially algae (for other definitions, see
http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/eutrophication.html). If eutrophication is gradual, the consumer
community (e.g., fish, benthic organisms, bacteria) can benefit from the added nourishment.
Increasingly, however, human activity is over-enriching estuaries with nutrients, especially nitrogen, and
plants create more food than can be immediately consumed. The excess plant material can  result in
problems such as diminished water clarity and depleted  dissolved oxygen. The NCA program gauges
the extent of harmful eutrophication by measuring five component indicators that represent different
stages of the process. These indicators  include two measures of nutrient enrichment (concentrations
of DIN and DIP), a measure  of available plant material (concentrations of chlorophyll a), and two
indications of adverse effects of eutrophication  (water clarity and dissolved oxygen levels).  Not
all of these warning signs would be evident at the same time, so a water quality index is created
from the five component indicators. For instance, a station is considered to be adversely affected
by eutrophication if two of the component indicators are rated poor (see Chapter I for a full
explanation of the water quality index).
                                                                                                   75

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T5
o
O
 o
O
 O
O
                    Northeast Coast Water Quality Index
                                                  Site Criteria: Number of component
                                                  indicators in poor or fair condition.
                                                   • Good = No more than I is fair
                                                   O Fair  = I  is poor or 2 or more are fair
                                                   • Poor = 2 or more are poor
                                                   O Missing
                                                                                         Good   Fair
                                                                                                       Poo
                   Figure 3-5. Water quality index data for Northeast Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
             Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                The Northeast Coast region is rated good for
             DIN concentrations, with only 5% of the coastal
             area rated poor. Poor DIN concentrations (i.e.,
             moderate to high concentrations ranging from
             0.5 to 2 mg/L) were largely confined to stations
             in NY/NJ Harbor, the Delaware River, and the
             Delaware Inland Bays. The region is rated fair for
             DIP concentrations, with 53%  of the coastal area in
             fair or poor condition for this component indicator.
             DIP concentrations rated fair (i.e., 0.01 to 0.05
             mg/L) were uniformly distributed throughout the
             Northeast Coast region, while concentrations rated
             poor (i.e., 0.05 to .2 mg/L) were found at stations
             in Great Bay, NH; Narragansett Bay, RI;  Long
             Island Sound; NY/NJ Harbor; the Delaware River;
             and the Delaware Inland Bays. Good conditions
             for DIN and DIP were found in Chesapeake Bay,
             except for a few western tributaries. At first glance,
             these results seem to suggest that DIP is a more
             serious problem than DIN in the Northeast Coast
region because a greater area of the region is rated
poor for the DIP component indicator; however,
the high DIP levels are less important because
the limiting nutrient, DIN, is depleted and the
potential for further plant growth is low. Given
such complexities, these DIN and DIP nutrient
metrics may be best interpreted as indicators of
potential, additional  eutrophication in estuaries,
rather than measures of nutrient status at the time
of measurement.
          Although both DIN and DIP can
          contribute to the adverse effects
          of eutrophication, DIN is usually
          of primary concern in estuaries
          because it is the "limiting nutrient,"
          i.e., the first critical component to be
          depleted, thereby halting further plant
          production.
     76

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Chlorophyll a
   The Northeast Coast region is rated fair for
chlorophyll a concentrations because less of the
coastal area is rated good than is rated fair and
poor, combined. Generally, the  broad pattern of
chlorophyll a concentrations is similar to that of
nutrients, with chlorophyll a levels much higher in
the south (i.e., the Virginian Province) than in  the
north (i.e., Acadian Province). High chlorophyll a
levels are generally expected at nutrient-rich sites,
and this is the case in much of the Northeast
Coast coastal waters, especially in the Maryland
Coastal Bays and Chesapeake Bay tributaries.
However, there is little apparent correlation in the
Chesapeake Bay main stem, Delaware Bay, or NY/
NJ Harbor areas. Such inconsistent relationships
between nutrients and  chlorophyll  a highlight the
complex dynamics of algal blooms  in coastal waters.
For instance,  chlorophyll a levels in the Delaware
Estuary are relatively low, despite very high
dissolved nutrient concentrations, likely because
naturally poor water  clarity (caused by sediments
suspended by wave action)  hinders algal growth.
The opposite is evident in much of Chesapeake
Bay, where dissolved  nutrients are scarce, while
chlorophyll a concentrations are high. Here, it  is
likely that that the nutrients have already been
removed  from the water and incorporated into
biomass.

Water Clarity
   The Northeast Coast region is rated fair for water
clarity, with 18% of the coastal  area rated poor
and another 24% rated fair. In this assessment,
the cutpoints used to define good, fair, and poor
water clarity varied for different estuarine systems
(Table  3-1), depending on the natural conditions
of and  the restoration goals for the waterbody. For
example, large portions of the shallow Delaware
Estuary have naturally low water clarity due to
wave action; therefore, the least stringent cutpoints
are used to assess water clarity. In contrast, more
stringent cutpoints are applied to Chesapeake
Bay, where restoration  of bay grass  habitat is an
important goal. Further information  regarding
water clarity in Chesapeake Bay is available online
at: http://www.chesapeakebay.net/waterclarity.
aspx?menuitem= 14656. Water clarity at monitoring
stations along the Northeast Coast was largely rated
good, with the notable exception of monitoring
stations in Chesapeake Bay, particularly the western
tributaries, and the tidal-fresh regions of Delaware
Estuary.
 Table 3-1. Cutpoints Used to Define Poor
 Ratings at a Monitoring Station in the
 Northeast Coast Region
                            Cutpoints for a Poor
                             Rating (Percentage
                            of Ambient Light that
                             Reaches I  Meter in
       Coastal Areas               Depth)
 Chesapeake Bay Estuarine           < 20%
 System
 Delaware River/Bay                < 5%
 Estuarine System
 All remaining Northeast            
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T5
o
O
 o
O
 O
O
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index for the coastal waters
of the Northeast Coast region is rated fair, with
12% of the coastal area in poor condition and 11%
in fair condition (Figure 3-6). This index is based
on measurements  of three component indicators:
sediment toxicity,  sediment contaminants, and
sediment TOC. Fair and poor sites are evident
throughout the Northeast Coast region, with hot
spots located in Great  Bay, NH; Narragansett
Bay, RI; Long Island Sound; the NY/NJ Harbor;
the Upper Delaware Estuary; and the western
tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. To a large extent,
the pattern of the  sediment quality index for the
Northeast Coast region mirrors the pattern of
sediment contamination, a component indicator of
this index.

Sediment Toxicity
   The Northeast Coast region is rated poor for
sediment toxicity, with 8% of the coastal area
rated poor for this component indicator. Sites
rated poor are concentrated in Cape Cod Bay,
MA; Narragansett Bay, RI; NY/NJ Harbor; and
the tidal-fresh parts of Delaware Bay and coastal
New Jersey. Relatively few of the poor sites are
evident along the northern shore of Maine or in
Chesapeake Bay.
                    Northeast Coast Sediment Quality Index
                                                     Site Criteria: Number and condition of
                                                     component indicators.
                                                      • Good = None is poor, and sediment
                                                              contaminants is good
                                                      O Fair  = None is poor, and sediment
                                                              contaminants is fair
                                                      • Poor = I  or more are poor
                                                      O Missing
                                                                                          Good   Fair
                   Figure 3-6. Sediment quality index data for Northeast Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     78

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Sed/ment Contam/nants
   The Northeast Coast region is rated good for
sediment contaminant concentrations, with 3%
of coastal area rated poor and  14% of the area
rated fair for this component indicator. The spatial
distribution of the sediment contaminants indicator
mirrors that of the sediment quality index, with the
monitoring stations rated poor for this component
indicator clustering primarily near major urban
centers, but also located along the mid-Maine
coast and the western tributaries of Chesapeake
Bay. Elevated levels of metals (particularly arsenic,
chromium, mercury, nickel, silver, and zinc), PCBs,
and DDT were primarily responsible for the poor
sediment contaminant ratings.
   Although a relationship  between toxicity and
sediment contamination seems logical, there
appears to be little correlation between the two
measures in the Northeast Coast region. Of the
62 sites that were rated poor for the sediment
contaminants component indicator, only 15% were
also rated poor for sediment toxicity. Conversely,
of the 87 sites rated poor for the sediment toxicity
component indicator, only 10% were also rated
poor for sediment contaminants. In short, there
is little evidence that the chemical contaminants
measured for this evaluation are the cause of the
toxicity measured by this test.  It is possible that
these results may indicate that high concentrations
of contaminants are immobilized by sequestering
agents, such as sulfides or organic carbon, and are
not readily available to biota (DiToro  et  al., 1991;
U.S. EPA, 1993; Daskalakis and O'Conner, 1994).

Sed/ment TOC
   The Northeast Coast region is rated good for
the sediment TOC component indicator, with
only 2% of the coastal area rated poor and an
additional 20% rated fair. The spatial  distribution
of stations rated good, fair, or  poor for this
component indicator is similar to the  distribution
of station ratings for the  sediment quality index
and the sediment contaminants indicator. In fact,
the association of stations rated fair or poor for
both the sediment contaminants and sediment
TOC component indicators is strong. Ninety-
six percent of the sites that showed some level of
contamination (i.e., exceeded the EPvL for at least
one chemical) were rated fair or poor for sediment
TOC. Only 1%  of the stations rated good for TOC
were rated poor for sediment contaminants. Metals
were more likely than organic contaminants to
associate with the organic matter. The close pairing
of pollutants and organic material is not unusual,
as the contaminants tend to adsorb or chemically
bind to organic matter and accumulate together
in quiescent "depositional spots." This scavenging
of toxicants is a two-edged sword—beneficial if
the contaminants are permanently sequestered
in carbon-rich sediments, but detrimental if the
contaminated sediments are consumed by benthic
organisms and the toxicants enter the food web.
.O
 O
O
          Guidelines for Assessing
          Sediment Contamination (Long
          etal., 1995)
          ERM (Effects Range Median)—
          Determined values for each chemical
          as the 50th percentile (median) in a
          database of ascending concentrations
          associated with adverse biological
          effects.
          ERL (Effects Range Low)—
          Determined values for each chemical
          as the I Oth percentile in a database of
          ascending concentrations associated
          with adverse biological effects.

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      Benthic Index
   The Northeast Coast region is rated poor, with
31% of the coastal area rated poor for benthic
condition (Figure 3-7)- Separate benthic indices
were developed to evaluate the unique benthic
communities in the Acadian Province (i.e., north
of Cape Cod) and the Virginian Province (i.e.,
south of Cape Cod). The Acadian Province
Benthic Index (Hale and Heltshe, 2008) has three
rating categories (good, fair, and poor), whereas
the Virginian Province Benthic Index (Paul et
al., 2001) has only good and poor categories.
Considered individually as provinces, the Acadian
Province fares relatively well, with 93% of the area
reporting good  benthic condition, compared with
the Virginian Province, where only 60% of area
received a good rating. Poor benthic conditions are
particularly evident at monitoring stations in Casco
Bay, ME; Great Bay, NH; Narragansett Bay, RI;
Long Island Sound; NY/NJ Harbor; coastal New
Jersey;  the Delaware Estuary; the Delaware Inland
Bays; and Chesapeake Bay.
Blue crabs were one of the species collected in the
Northeast Coast benthic survey (courtesy of City of
Port Aransas.Texas).
         Northeast Coast Benthic Index
                                                                                  Good
                                                                                   66%
Site Criteria: Acadian
Province Benthic Index Score.
O Good = > 5.0
O Fair = 4.0 to < 5.0
• Poor = < 4.0
O Missing
Site Criteria: Virginian
Province Benthic Index Score.
• Good = > 0.0
• Poor = < 0.0
O Missing
Good
Fair
Poor
        Figure 3-7.  Benthic index data for Northeast Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).

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      Coastal Habitat Index
  Wetlands are threatened by many human
activities, including loss and destruction due to land
development, eutrophication, and the introduction
of toxic chemicals. Losses can also result from land
subsidence, sea-level rise, and the introduction and
spread of exotic species (e.g., Asian shore crab).
Ecologists estimate that more than one half of the
coastal wetlands of the Northeast Coast region
have been lost since pre-colonial times. Although
modern legislation has greatly slowed the rate
of habitat  loss, the Northeast Coast region lost
650 acres of coastal wetlands between 1990 and
2000, which amounts to a loss of 0.14% over
10 years. The rate of wetland loss for this time
period was the lowest percent loss for all regions
of the conterminous United States. Based on the
calculated coastal habitat index value, the coastal
habitat index for the Northeast Coast is rated good
to fair.
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for the
Northeast Coast region is rated fair to poor based
on concentrations of chemical contaminants
found in composites of whole-body fish, lobster,
and fish fillet samples. Twenty percent of the sites
sampled where fish were caught were rated poor,
and an additional 20% were rated fair based on
comparison to EPA advisory guidance values
(Figure 3-8). The poor and fair sites were largely
congregated in Great Bay, NH; Narragansett Bay,
RI; Long Island Sound; NY/NJ Harbor; and the
upper Delaware Estuary. Elevated concentrations
of PCBs were responsible for the  impaired ratings
for a large majority of sites.  Moderate to high levels
of DDT were detected in samples collected from
sites located in the Hudson, Passaic, and Delaware
rivers, and moderate mercury contamination was
evident in samples collected from sites in Great Bay,
NH; Narragansett Bay, RI; and the Hudson River.
                                                                                                                 .O
 O
O

       Northeast Coast Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
                                                                                   Good
                                                                                    60%
                                  Site Criteria: EPA guidance concentration
                                   • Good = Below guidance range
                                   O Fair  = Falls within guidance range
                                   • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
                                                                                        roorl
      Figure 3-8. Fish tissue contaminants index data for Northeast Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                           81

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 O
O
 o
O
 O
O
Trends of Coastal Monitoring
Data—Northeast Coast
(excluding Chesapeake Bay)

Temporal Change in Ecological
Condition
   The NCA data were collected each summer
from 2000 to 2006 using consistent sampling
and measurement methods. This section examines
the variability of the results along the Northeast
Coast and looks for possible trends over the 7-year
period. Chesapeake Bay is not included in this
analysis because the NCA only assessed this estuary
during 2005 and 2006. For additional information
about conditions in Chesapeake Bay, please refer
to the extensive assessment activity conducted
and reported on by the Chesapeake Bay Program
(http://www.chesapeakebay.net).
   The 7-year NCA program is divided into three
phases for the Northeast Coast region. Phase
1 covers the initial 2 years (2000-2001) of the
program, when the entire coastline north of
Chesapeake Bay was evaluated based on a single
2-year sampling design. Phase 2 refers to the
intermediate next 3 years (2002—2004), when
individual states employed separate sampling
designs and several states did not participate for
a year. The entire region was sampled in Phase
2, and results for this period were weighted to
provide equal representation with the other phases.
Phase 3 covers  the final 2 years (2005-2006),
when the region was assessed under another 2-year
sampling design. This trend analysis includes all the
measures of water, sediment, and benthic condition
highlighted in this report. However, the fish tissue
contaminant index was excluded from the analysis
because high variability in several factors (species,
tissue type, and sampling location)  precluded
simple comparison among the phases.
   In large part, the water quality index and
its component indicators showed consistency
over the 7-year period (Figure 3-9). On average,
approximately 7% of the Northeast Coast region
displayed poor water quality index conditions
and another 34% showed fair conditions in each
phase. DIP was the most consistently impaired
component in the Northeast Coast region, with
about two-thirds of the coastal area rated fair and
poor, combined, for each phase. The chlorophyll a
component indicator was consistently rated fair and
poor, combined, in about a quarter of the region's
coastal area. Less than 15% of the study area
reported fair or poor conditions for the DIN, water
clarity, or dissolved oxygen component indicators.
The small improving trend for DIN was statistically
significant (i.e., the 95% confidence intervals for
combined fair and poor categories did not overlap
when comparing phases). The improvement in
DIN concentrations was evident primarily in
Delaware Bay and individual estuaries north of
Long Island Sound, but absent elsewhere in the
Virginian Province. No other apparent trends (DIP,
water clarity, or dissolved oxygen) were statistically
valid.
   Likewise, the sediment quality index and its
component indicators showed relative constancy
over the three phases (Figure 3-10). On average,
about 20% to 25% of the Northeast Coast
coastal area reported fair or poor condition for
the sediment contaminants and sediment TOC
component indicators, and about 8% of the coastal
area was rated poor for sediment toxicity during
each phase. Only the sediment contaminants
component indicator displayed a statistically
significant trend over time; specifically, an
improving trend in the extent of area rated poor
between the first and later phases. This improving
trend for sediment contaminants was most evident
from Narragansett Bay through Delaware Bay.
     82

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                                                                                                                             ,
                                                                                                                             o
                                                                                                                             Q.
        100
        80
        60
      c
      
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          The benthic index was consistently rated fair
        and poor, combined, in about 20% of the region's
        coastal area (Figure 3-11)- The variation among the
        phases was not statistically significant.
          It is difficult to draw conclusions regarding
        trends in a region as large and diverse as the
        Northeast Coast. As noted above, there were
        modest signs of overall improvement in a few
        indicators in the Northeast Coast region. Greater
        variation over the 7-year period was evident in
        the records of individual estuaries—in some cases,
        suggesting steady improvement and,  in other cases,
        documenting steady degradation. However, 7 years
        is still a short time to sort out the complex year-
        to-year variations in climate, estuarine dynamics,
        and responses to remediation efforts.  Periodic
        reassessments of the nation's coastal conditions
        using comparable assessment methods are planned
        for the future. Our ability to identify and interpret
        trends will improve as the data accumulate and the
        assessment period lengthens.
            100
            80
            60
            40
            20
                                               • Good
                                               D Fair
                                               • Poor
                                               D Missing
                 2000-01
                           2002-04
                         Benthic Index
                                     2005-06
        Figure 3-11. Percent of Northeast Coast coastal area
        in good, fair; or poor categories for the benthic index
        over three time periods, 2000-2001, 2002-2004, and
        2005-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Coastal Ocean Condition—
Mid-Atlantic Bight
  The Mid-Atlantic Bight lies between Cape Cod
and Nantucket Shoals to the northeast and Cape
Hatteras to the south (Allen, 1983) and is a sub-
region of the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf
LME (U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, 2004).
In May 2006, NOAA and the EPA conducted
a study to assess the current  status of ecological
condition and stressor impacts throughout coastal
ocean (shelf) waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight and
to provide this information as a framework for
evaluating future changes due to natural or human-
induced disturbances (Figure 3-12). To address
these objectives, the study incorporated standard
methods and indicators applied in previous coastal
EMAP/NCA projects and the NCCRs (U.S.
EPA, 200Ib, 2004b, 2008c), including multiple
measures of water quality, sediment quality, benthic
condition, and fish tissue  contamination. Although
the results of this study were used to assess ocean
condition in these offshore waters,  ratings of
good, fair, and poor for several of the indices and
indicators were not assigned because corresponding
cutpoints for such ratings have not been
developed. The ocean condition developed from
these sampling efforts was compared to estuarine
condition assessed by NCA surveys conducted
in the Virginian Province in 2003—2006. A more
detailed report on results of the Mid-Atlantic Bight
offshore assessment is provided by Balthis et al.
(2009).
                                                             Whale (courtesy of Jeffrey Cole).
84

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Figure 3-12.  Map of the Mid-Atlantic Bight and
locations of sampling stations (Balthis et al., 2009).
     'Water Quality

Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
   The average concentration of DIN (i.e., nitrogen
as nitrate + nitrite + ammonium) in ocean surface
waters was 0.04 mg/L, which was lower compared
to the average in estuarine waters (0.28 mg/L),
although the range in values was much greater for
estuaries. This pattern is illustrated in Figure 3-13,
which compares mean concentrations of DIN
and 95% confidence intervals in coastal ocean
versus estuarine waters. Although cutpoints are
not available to assign ratings for coastal ocean
condition, about 94% of coastal ocean surface
waters based on NCA cutpoints.
   Near-bottom concentrations of DIN were higher
than in surface waters, averaging 0.13 mg/L. Figure
3-14 shows the spatial distribution of DIN in
bottom waters and that concentrations are highest
near the shelf break. This pattern is  consistent with
prior studies that have found that concentrations
of nutrients,  particularly nitrate, in  bottom shelf
waters generally increase seaward and tend to
remain high year round (Matte and Waldhauer,
                                                       1984). It is suggested that slope waters rich in
                                                       nutrients represent a reservoir of nitrogen available
                                                       to replace amounts utilized from inshore waters.
                                                          Concentrations of DIP in coastal ocean surface
                                                       waters averaged about 0.04 mg/L. These levels are
                                                       similar to (though less variable than) concentrations
                                                       measured in estuaries of the region, which also
                                                       averaged 0.04 mg/L (see Figure 3-13). Although
                                                       applicable cutpoints are not available to assign
                                                       ratings for ocean condition, 10% of the ocean area
                                                       would be rated poor based on NCA cutpoints.
                                                       However, the percentage of ocean area with DIP in
                                                       this upper range is probably more of a reflection of
                                                       naturally higher phosphorus levels from nutrient-
                                                       rich slope waters than an indication of poor water
                                                       quality.
 Estuaries

 Coastal
  Ocean
B
               O.I
                       0.2     0.3
                        DIN (mg/L)
                                      0.4
                                              0.5
 Estuaries

 Coastal
  Ocean
 Estuaries

 Coastal
  Ocean
              0.01
                      0.02     0.03
                        DIP (mg/L)
                                      0.04
                                             0.05
                  468
                       Chi a (ug/L)
                                   10
                                         12
                                              14
Figure 3-13.  Mean concentrations + 95% confidence
internals of (a) DIN, (b) DIR and (c) chlorophyll a in
coastal ocean vs. estuarine surface waters (Balthis et al.,
2009).
                                                                                                                     o
                                                                                                                     Q.
                                                                                                                    &
                                                                                                                     O
                                                              o
                                                             O
                                                             O
                                                             "ro
                                                              O
                                                                                                              85

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O
                                                                    Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN)
                                                                     • Good = < 0.1 mg/L
                                                                     O Fair  = 0.1-0.5 mg/L
                                                                     • Poor  = > 0.5 mg/L
Good
Fair
Poor
             Figure 3-14. Near-bottom DIN component indicator data from the Mid-Atlantic Bight study area (Balthis et al., 2009).
                Ratios of DIN to DIP were calculated as an
             indicator of which nutrient may be controlling
             primary production. A ratio above 16 is indicative
             of phosphorus limitation, while a ratio below 16
             is indicative of nitrogen limitation (Geider and
             La Roche, 2002). DIN to DIP ratios in offshore
             surface waters ranged from 0.43—6.25, which
             indicates that nitrogen is the limiting nutrient.
                DIP concentrations in near-bottom coastal
             ocean waters were slightly higher than in surface
             waters, averaging 0.05 mg/L. Near-bottom DIP
             concentrations did not show the same seaward
             increase that DIN concentrations showed.

             Chlorophyll a
                Concentrations of chlorophyll a in coastal
             ocean surface waters, averaging 0.23 ug/L, tended
             to be much lower than in estuaries of the region,
which averaged 10.8 ug/L (see Figure 3-13). As
a further comparison, all coastal ocean stations
had chlorophyll a concentrations in surface waters
below the NCA cutpoint for good water quality.
Near-bottom concentrations of chlorophyll a were
also at low levels, averaging 0.30 ug/L.

Water Clarity
   For offshore waters, concentrations of TSS were
used as a surrogate indicator of water clarity. TSS in
surface waters averaged 5-6 mg/L; these values  are
much lower than those in estuaries of the region,
which averaged 27-4 mg/L. While most coastal
ocean surface waters had TSS concentrations
under 10 mg/L, which is the 90th percentile of
all measured values, most estuarine surface waters
(65-7% of the area) had TSS concentrations above
this level.

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   Near-bottom TSS concentrations were similar
to those in surface waters, averaging 6.9 mg/L.
With the exception of the station with the highest
value of 36.4 mg/L, located near the entrance to
Delaware Bay, all other coastal ocean stations had
near-bottom levels of TSS less than or equal to  16.3
mg/L.

Dissolved Oxygen
   Near-bottom concentrations of dissolved oxygen
in coastal ocean waters averaged 9-1 mg/L, and
samples from all sites in the coastal ocean sampling
area were greater than the NCA cutpoint for good
water quality (Figure 3-15). In comparison, 9%
of the estuarine area had bottom-water dissolved
oxygen concentrations rated poor, with 17% and
71% rated fair and good, respectively. Dissolved
oxygen levels in coastal ocean surface waters
(average of 8.9 mg/L) were similar to those in near-
bottom waters.
(Courtesy of Jeffrey Cole)
                                                                                    Coastal Ocean
                                                                                       Good
                                                                                       100%
                                                                                      Estuaries
                                             Dissolved Oxygen
                                             • Good = > 5 mg/L
                                             O Fair   = 2-5 mg/L
                                             • Poor  = < 2 mg/L
                          Poor
                                                                                       Missing
                          Good   Fair
                                        Poor
Figure 3-15. Dissolved oxygen data from the Mid-Atlantic Bight (Balthis et al., 2009).
Note:  Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine dissolved oxygen levels using NCA cutpoints for rating categories.
                                                                                                                87

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      Sediment Quality
Sed/ment Contaminants
   Continental shelf sediments of the Mid-Atlantic
Bight appeared to be relatively uncontaminated.
No contaminants were found in excess of their
corresponding ERM values (Long et al., 1995).
Only three chemicals (arsenic, nickel, and total
DDT) exceeded their corresponding ERL values,
and these lower-threshold exceedances occurred
at only a few sites. Based on the cutpoints used
by NCA to assess estuarine condition, 100% of
the ocean area surveyed was rated good for the
sediment contaminants component indicator. In
comparison, about 3% of estuarine area was rated
poor and 14% was rated fair (Figure 3-16).
Sed/ment TOC
   High levels of TOC in sediments can serve as
an indicator of adverse conditions and are often
associated with increasing proportions of finer-
grained sediment particles (i.e., silt-clay fraction)
that tend to provide greater surface area for sorption
of both organic matter and the chemical pollutants
that tend to bind to organic matter. Given such an
association, it is useful to note that about 92%  of
the ocean area had sediments composed of sands
(< 20% silt-clay), 6% of the area was composed of
intermediate muddy sands (20—80% silt-clay), and
2% consisted of mud (greater than 80% silt-clay).
                                                                                            Coastal Ocean
                                                       Sediment Contaminants
                                                        • Good = No ERM exceeded and
                                                                < 5 ERLs exceeded
                                                        O Fail-   = No ERM exceeded and
                                                                > 5 ERLs exceeded
                                                        • Poor  = > I  ERM exceeded
                                                                                               Good
                                                                                               100%
                                                                                 Estuaries
                                                                                         Missing
                                                                                           3%
                                                                                                      Good
             Figure 3-16.  Sediment contaminants data from the Mid-Atlantic Bight (Balthis et al, 2009).
             Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine conditions.

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                                                                                                                  ,
   These predominantly sandy sediments were
found to have very low levels of TOC (Figure
3-17)- With concentrations ranging from only
0.03—1-6% and averaging 0.19%, the entire coastal
ocean sampling area was rated  good based on the
NCA estuarine cutpoints for TOC. In addition,
none of the sites exceeded the cutpoint of 3-5%
provided by Hyland et al. (2005) as a more
conservative bioeffect threshold. Because of their
closer proximity to both natural and anthropogenic
sources of organic materials, estuaries of the
region had higher levels of TOC, with 20% of the
estuarine area rated fair and 2% rated poor.
      Benthic Condition
   The Mid-Atlantic Bight coastal ocean supports
a moderately diverse assemblage of macrobenthic
infauna, with values that are lower than some
other offshore regions (e.g., see South Atlantic
Bight, Chapter 4) and higher than corresponding
estuaries of the region. A total of 23,044 individuals
representing 381 taxa (215 distinct species) were
identified in 95 samples collected throughout the
study area. Polychaete worms were the dominant
taxonomic group, followed by crustaceans,
mollusks, and echinoderms.  Crustaceans and
echinoderms were more abundant at outer-shelf
depths than on the inner shelf. Diversity and
number of taxa also tended to be higher at outer-
shelf sites than inner-shelf sites.
                                                                                                                   o
                                                                                                                   Q.
                                                             .O
                                                             O
                                                            O

                                                                            Coastal Ocean
                                      Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
                                       O Good = < 2%
                                       O Fair  = 2-5%
                                       O Poor = > 5%
                                                                               Good
                                                                               100%
                         Estuaries
                        Poor
                    Fair 2%J~ Missing
                         Good   Fair    Poor

                                Good
                                75%
Figure 3-17.  Sediment TOC data from the Mid-Atlantic Bight (Balthis et al., 2009).
Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine conditions.

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O
   Although densities of benthic infauna were lower
offshore than in estuaries, the mean number of taxa
and mean diversity were both higher in the coastal
ocean sediments (Figure 3-18). Mean density, mean
number of taxa, and mean diversity were much
lower in Chesapeake Bay than in the remaining
Virginian Province estuaries. Thus, if Chesapeake
Bay samples were excluded, mean densities in
estuaries would be equivalent to those in the coastal
ocean, although mean diversity and the number
of taxa would still be lower. Moreover, only 95
samples were collected throughout the offshore
area compared to 353 in estuaries. Because one can
expect to find more taxa with increasing sample
size, the difference in the number (and diversity) of
taxa between offshore and estuarine waters is likely
to be even greater than presently described if the
sampling efforts were more equivalent.
              Estuaries

               Coastal
               Ocean
                              10        20        30
                            Richness (Number of taxa/0.04 m2)
                                                           40
              Estuaries

               Coastal
               Ocean
                                5,000        10,000
                           Density (Number of individuals/m2)
                                            15,000
              Estuaries

               Coastal
               Ocean
                               I         2        3         4
                                 Diversity (HV0.04 m2)

             Figure 3-18. Mean richness (# of taxa/0.04 m2), density
             (#/m2), and diversity (Shannon H70.04 m2 using base-2
             logarithms) of macrobenthic infauna in Mid-Atlantic
             Bight coastal ocean and estuarine sediments (Balthis et
             al., 2009).
             Note:  Error bars are 95% confidence limits for the mean.
   The 10 most abundant offshore taxa, in
decreasing order of abundance, included the
amphipod crustacean Ampelisca agassizi; the
polychaete worms Polygordius spp. and Acmira
catherinae; tubuficid oligochaetes (family
Tubificidae); the amphipod Unciola irrorata;
the polychaete Spiophanes bombyx; the tanaid
crustacean Tanaissus psammophilus; the polychaetes
Exogone hebes and Goniadella gracilis; and the
maldanid polychaetes (family Maldanidae). The
composition of offshore assemblages was markedly
different from estuaries, with 6 of the  10 offshore
dominants either under-represented (found in
< 10% of samples) or completely absent from
estuaries. The reverse also was true, with 7 of the 10
most abundant estuarine species being found either
in low numbers (occurring in < 10% of samples) or
not at all in  the coastal ocean.

Non-Indigenous Species
   No non-indigenous species were identified
in samples from offshore sites, although some
(worms Harmothoe imbricata and Spiophanes.
bombyx) are considered to be of unknown origin.
By comparison, a few species of unknown
origin (worm Boccardiella ligerica, crustacean
Monocorophium acherusicum) or non-indigenous
status (oligochaete Branchiura sowerbyi, clam
Corbicula fluminea) were identified in benthic
collections from mid-Atlantic estuaries sampled
as part of NCA efforts  in 2003-2006. However,
the estuarine non-indigenous species would not
be expected  to occur offshore because  the ocean
shelf environment would be outside their normal
(lower) salinity ranges. Although not observed in
the 2006 benthic survey, coastal ocean occurrences
of non-indigenous species off the Northeast coastal
region have  been  documented in the literature. For
example, the non-indigenous tunicate Didemnum
spp. has been reported to be colonizing portions of
the shelf off of New England and northern Mid-
Atlantic Bight (Cohen, 2005; Kott, 2004).
     90

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      Fish Tissue Contaminants
   Because none of the species offish targeted for
chemical contaminant analysis was collected during
the core survey in May 2006, samples of summer
flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) were obtained from
a subsequent winter bottom-trawl survey conducted
February 6-March 2, 2007, by the NOAA NMFS
Northeast Fisheries Science Center and used for this
report. Fish samples were taken from 30 bottom-
trawl locations in shelf waters between Sandy
Hook, NJ, and Cape Hatteras, NC. Although these
samples were not part of the core probabilistic
sampling design and, thus, could not be used to
generate spatial estimates of condition, they do
provide a good indication of the range of chemical
contaminant levels likely to be encountered in
edible tissues from bottom fish in the Mid-Atlantic
Bight study area.
   Concentrations of a suite of metals, pesticides,
and PCBs were measured in edible tissues (fillets)
of 30 individual summer flounder, one each from
the 30 trawl sites, and compared to risk-based EPA
advisory guidance values for recreational fishers
(U.S. EPA, 2000c). None of the 30 stations where
fish were measured had  chemical contaminants
in tissues above the corresponding upper human-
health endpoints. Three stations had total PCB
concentrations in tissues that were between the
corresponding lower and upper endpoints, and
two stations (one of which was also one of the
stations with PCB exceedances) had total mercury
concentrations between these endpoints. These
stations would be rated  fair based on the NCA
cutpoints (see Table  1-21). All other stations
had concentrations of contaminants below
corresponding lower endpoints and thus were rated
good.

Coastal Ocean Condition
Summary—Mid-Atlantic  Bight
   No major indications of poor sediment or
water quality were observed in this assessment of
Mid-Atlantic Bight coastal ocean condition. The
highest observed TOC concentration was 1.6%,
well below the 5% cutpoint used in the NCA
evaluations. Dissolved oxygen concentrations in
bottom waters were at least 8.1 mg/L (well above
the 5 mg/L cutpoint for a good rating), and all
sampling sites were rated good for the sediment
contaminants component indicator, with no
chemicals above corresponding ERM values and
less than  5 chemicals above corresponding ERL
values. Some indications of human impacts were
observed in fish tissue  contaminant analyses, where
concentrations of methylmercury and PCBs were
between corresponding lower and upper human-
health endpoints; these stations would be rated fair.
However, no tissue concentrations exceeded the
upper endpoint for any contaminant. In addition,
whereas some non-indigenous species were observed
in estuarine waters, none were found in any of the
coastal ocean benthic samples.
          Benthic indices have been developed
          for estuaries of the mid-Atlantic states,
          New York-New Jersey Harbor, and
          Chesapeake Bay (Weisberg et al., 1997;
          Adams et al.,  1998; Llanso et al., 2002a,
          2002b), and an index is being developed
          for near-coastal New Jersey waters (to
          3 km; Strobel et al., 2008). However,
          no such index exists for coastal ocean
          shelf waters of the mid-Atlantic region.
          In the absence of a benthic index,
          Balthis et al. (2009) attempted to assess
          potential stressor impacts in the Mid-
          Atlantic Bight coastal ocean study by
          evaluating linkages between reduced
          values of biological attributes (numbers
          of taxa, diversity, and abundance) and
          corresponding measured indicators of
          poor sediment or water quality. Using
          the lower I Oth percentile as a basis
          for defining "low" values, they looked
          for co-occurrences of low values of
          biological attributes with indications of
          poor sediment or water quality based
          on NCA cutpoints.
                                                                                                                .O
                                                                                                                O
                                                                                                                O

                                                                                                         91

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          An analysis of potential biological impacts (see
        text box) revealed no major evidence of impaired
        benthic condition linked to measured stressors.
        In fact, no indications of poor sediment or water
        quality were observed based on the cutpoints
        for poor ratings for the sediment contaminants,
        sediment TOC, and dissolved oxygen component
        indicators. These results suggest that coastal ocean
        waters and sediments of the Mid-Atlantic Bight
        are in good condition, with lower-end values of
        biological attributes representing parts of a normal
        reference range controlled by natural factors.
          Alternatively, it is possible  that, for some of
        these sites, the lower values of benthic variables
        reflect symptoms of disturbance induced by other
        unmeasured stressors. In efforts to be consistent
        with the underlying concepts and protocols of
        earlier EMAP and NCA efforts, the indicators
        in this study included measures of stressors, such
        as chemical contaminants and symptoms of
        eutrophication, which often are associated with
        adverse biological impacts in shallower estuarine
        and inland ecosystems. However, there may be
        other sources of human-induced stress in these
        coastal ocean systems, particularly those causing
        physical disruption of the seafloor (e.g., commercial
        bottom trawling, cable placement, minerals
        extraction) that pose greater risks to living resources
        and that have not been captured adequately. Future
        monitoring efforts in these coastal ocean areas
        should include indicators of such alternative sources
        of disturbance.
Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Northeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME
   The Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
extends from the Bay of Fundy, Canada, to
Cape Hatteras, NC, along the Atlantic Ocean
(Figure 3-19) and is structurally very complex,
with marked temperature and climate changes,
winds, river runoff, estuarine exchanges, tides, and
complex circulation regimes. In this temperate
ecosystem, intensive fishing is the primary driving
force for changes in the pounds offish harvested,
with climate as the  secondary driving force.  This
LME has an oceanographic regime marked by a
recurring pattern of inter-annual variability, but
showing no evidence of temperature shifts of the
magnitude described for other North Atlantic
LMEs, such as the Scotian Shelf LME to the north
(Zwanenburg et al., 2002). The Northeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME is one of the world's most
productive ecosystems and has been characterized
by robust average annual primary productivity
(phytoplankton) and relatively stable zooplankton
biomass (measure of the quantity, usually in weight,
of a stock at a given point in time) for the past
30 years (Sherman et al., 2002). The  most visible
natural resource capital of the Northeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME is its rich biodiversity
offish, plankton, crustacean, mollusk, bird, and
mammal species.
        Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, Delaware (courtesy of NOAA).
92

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   This LME provides the greatest commercial
fishery revenue for the United States, generating
over $5 billion from 2003 to 2006. As a group,
invertebrates (e.g., American lobster, Atlantic sea
scallop, blue crab, quahog, Atlantic surf clam)
comprise the most valuable set of commercial
fisheries in the Northeast U.S. Continental
Shelf LME, with the lobster and scallop fisheries
generating the largest portions of that revenue (see
Figure 3-20). The other top-grossing commercial
fisheries are goosefish (a bottom-dwelling species)
and menhaden (a water-column dwelling species
described in Chapter 5) (Figure 3-20).
                            Northeast U.S.
                           Continental Shelf
                     Relevant Large Marine Ecosystem
                     Associated U.S. land mass
Figure 3-19. Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
(NOAA,20IOb).
Invertebrate Fisheries
   The commercial fisheries for crustaceans (lobster
and crab) and mollusks (scallops and clams) are
the most valuable fisheries in the Northeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME, with annual U.S. landings
averaging 126,600 metric tons and ex-vessel
revenues (the value before processing) averaging
$884 million per year during 2004-2006. In
2003—2006, the American lobster fishery ranked
first in value, with total ex-vessel revenues over $1.4
billion, and the sea scallop fishery ranked second,
with total revenues of $1.36 billion (see Figure
3-20). The  blue crab and quahog clam fisheries
ranked third and fourth, respectively, generating
$214 million and $148 million from 2003 to 2006
(see Figure  3-20; NMFS, 2010).
   The American lobster (Homarus americanus),
which is  found in the waters of the Northwest
Atlantic from Labrador to Cape Hatteras, is an
iconic species for much of New England. It feeds
on fish and small crustaceans, and its principal
natural predators are bottom-dwelling fish (mainly
cod and haddock). American lobsters are harvested
with baited traps (called pots), which are set on the
sea floor, allowing the specimens to be caught alive.
   The American lobster fishery is managed
under the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for
American Lobster (ASMFC, 1997) by the Atlantic
States Marine Fisheries Commission within state
waters and  under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries
Cooperative Management Act  in offshore federal
waters. The primary management controls for
this fishery are size limits, release of egg-bearing
females, and release of v-notched (breeding)
females in some  areas. The lobster fishery has
become increasingly  dependent on small and young
lobsters that reach a legal size just prior to capture.
Commercial catch rates have markedly decreased
in nearshore areas, particularly in areas south of
Cape Cod and into Long Island Sound, where
fishing is heaviest.  Lobster abundance in the Gulf
of Maine subsystem (Figure 3-21) has remained
high despite heavy fishing pressure due to favorable
environmental conditions for lobster reproduction
and recruitment.
.O
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O

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    180,000

    160,000

    140,000

._,  120,000
c
2
•=  100,000

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                        Gulf of Maine
                                       Georges
                                         Bank
                             South New England
                            Mid-Atlantic Bight
Figure 3-21.  Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
subareas (Sherman et al., 2002).
   The other major invertebrate fisheries in the
Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME are blue
crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and clams (quahogand
Atlantic surf). The blue crab, a crustacean prized
for its delicate meat, is harvested extensively in the
Chesapeake Bay, the Southeast, and the Gulf of
Mexico. Within the Northeast U.S. Continental
Shelf LME, the blue crab fishery generated over
$214 million in total ex-vessel revenues from
2003 to 2006. For more information on the blue
crab, see Chapter 4.
   The quahog, or hard clam (Mercenaria
mercenaria), is a mollusk that is present throughout
the waters of the eastern border, but is most
abundant from Cape Cod, MA, to New Jersey.
From 2003 to 2006, the commercial quahog fishery
had total ex-vessel revenues of $148 million, with
the largest harvests in Connecticut, New York,
and New Jersey. This clam is especially popular in
Rhode Island, where it is the state shellfish. It is
served in raw bars throughout the Northeast, open-
shelled and with cocktail sauce.
   Unlike the pervasive quahog, the habitat of the
Atlantic surf clam (Spisula solidissima) is restricted
to the coastal waters off New Jersey, New York, and
Massachusetts, with these three states generating
most  of the $130 million total ex-vessel revenues
from  the 2003 to 2006 harvest. Although the
revenues for these two clam fisheries are similar,
the per-ton value of the quahog fishery is much
greater than that of the Atlantic surf clam, which
had landings nearly 10 times larger than the former
(see Figure 3-20). This may be attributed to the fact
that whereas quahog clams are often served raw, the
Atlantic surf clam is often processed for chowder,
broths, breaded strips, and other products. Both
clam fisheries are managed under the same FMP
(MAFMC, 2011) by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council, which utilizes a quota (catch
allocated to individual fishermen) system.
                                                                                                                  o
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                                                      Quahogs are harvested in the Northeast U.S.
                                                      Continental Shelf LME and are often served raw to
                                                      diners (courtesy of Fish Watch, NOAA).
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Demersal  Fish  Fisheries
   Of the demersal (bottom-dwelling) group, only
goosefish ranks within the top-grossing commercial
fisheries for the Northeast Continental Shelf LME;
however, other demersal species, such as Atlantic
cod, summer flounder, and haddock, once formed
the basis of community life in this area or are prized
by recreational fishermen. Demersal fisheries in the
Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME  include 35
stocks. The principal  demersal fish group includes
important species in the cod family (e.g., Atlantic
cod, haddock,  silver hake, red hake, white hake,
pollock), flounders (e.g., yellowtail flounder, winter
flounder, witch flounder, windowpane flounder,
Atlantic halibut, American plaice), ocean pout, and
Acadian redfish. In the Gulf of Maine and Georges
Bank subsystems (see Figure 3-21), demersal
fisheries are dominated by members of the cod
family (e.g., Atlantic cod,  haddock, hakes, pollock),
flounders, and goosefish (also known as  monkfish).
In the Mid-Atlantic subsystem, demersal fisheries
are primarily for summer  flounder, scup, goosefish,
and black sea bass. Demersal fish fishermen use
various fishing gears including otter trawls, gillnets,
traps, and set lines.
   Recent  (2004-2006) yields of the top 14
demersal species (representing 23 stocks) have
averaged about 65,000 metric tons (78% U.S.
and 22% Canadian).  Many of these stocks are
considered overfished and are currently rebuilding,
though management  efforts since the early 1990s
have led to a doubling in overall abundance.
Total ex-vessel revenue from the principal U.S.
demersal fish commercial  landings has dropped in
recent years ($107 million in 2003, $83 million in
2006). The Northeast U.S. Continental  Shelf LME
demersal fish complex also supports important
recreational fisheries for summer flounder, Atlantic
cod, winter flounder,  and  pollock.
   Currently, the most economically valuable
demersal fishery is goosefish (Lophius americanus).
From 2003 to  2006, the goosefish commercial
fishery generated $147 million in total ex-
vessel revenue  in  the Northeast.  Goosefish, also
known as monkfish, inhabit the bottom waters
of the Northwest Atlantic from the Gulf of St.
Lawrence down to Cape Hatteras. Their feeding
habits are largely determined by availability, and
only juveniles are targeted by larger prey species,
including sharks, swordfish, and skates.
  The goosefish is distinguished by its broad
head and wide mouth, which allow this species
to consume prey as large or larger than itself. This
unique physical characteristic makes goosefish less
profitable per landed ton than other fisheries (see
Figure 3-20), because often, only  the tail is sold
to processors. Fishermen use trawls and gillnets to
harvest goosefish, which is regulated by the New
England Fishery Management Council under the
Monkfish FMP (NEFMC, 201 la). This FMP
prescribes total allowable catches, gear, time, and
area restrictions, as well as a limited access program.

Fishery Trends and Summary
  Figure 3-22 shows the trends in commercial
landings for the top  six fisheries in the Northeast
U.S. Continental Shelf LME from 1950 to 2006.
These fisheries do  not necessarily have the greatest
landings in terms of metric tons for the LME, but
they generate the greatest ex-vessel revenues. The
discrepancy can be attributed to market values.
Since 1950, landings of the top commercial
fisheries have had  considerable annual fluctuations,
though only the blue crab and quahog clam have
had net decreases. The greatest increase in landings
occurred in the American lobster  fishery, catches
of which rose from 10,000 metric tons in  1950 to
just over 40,000 metric tons in 2006.  Sea scallop
landings have nearly tripled since  1950, while
Atlantic surf clam catches increased by 20,000
metric tons (or 500%). Commercial harvests of
goosefish began in the mid-1970s, peaked around
27,000 metric tons in the mid-1990s, and have
decreased since 2002 (NMFS, 2010).
  LMEs provide commercial and recreational
fisheries opportunities. Invertebrate species (lobster,
crab, scallops, and clams) provided commercial
fisheries revenues averaging $884  million per year
for 2003—2006. Commercial demersal fisheries
averaged about $100 million each year. In addition
to the substantial market value of these commercial

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fisheries, they support other related industries, such
as boat building; fuel for vessels; fishing gear and
nets; shipboard navigation and electronics; and
ship repair and maintenance. Similarly, recreational
fish such as striped bass, shad, and salmon, and the
demersal fish summer flounder, drive an economic
engine that supports tourism, bait and tackle shops,
recreational boating, and much more, all of which
contributes significantly to the value derived from
the ecosystem service of fishery production.
   Certainly,  the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf
LME provides fish and shellfish for food, but
additional ecosystem services and functions are
provided by this LME. Fish  and shellfish are part
of complex ecosystems that rely on various species
interactions for the maintenance of necessary
ecosystem functions. For instance, invertebrates
and pelagic species provide sustenance for larger
fish, like the goosefish, which themselves are prey
for marine mammals and seabirds. These seabirds
and marine mammals help support the ecotourism
industry. Many functions performed by species
in the LME indirectly benefit humans, including
water purification by bivalves such as scallops,
clams, and oysters. While feeding, these bivalves
filter the water constantly, which helps to clean
the water of algae, detritus, and toxics, resulting in
a more enjoyable beach or boating experience for
humans.
A commercial fishing boat at the town dock in Woods
Hole, MA (courtesy of Shelley Dawicki, NOAA).
           60,000
                                                                                       2000
                                   American Lobster

                                   Quahog Clam
 Sea Scallop

 Goosefish
Blue Crab

Atlantic Surf Clam
Figure 3-22.  Landings of top commercial fisheries in the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME from 1950 to 2006,
metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
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Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories

   In 2006, 7 of the 11 Northeast Coast states
had statewide consumption advisories for fish in
coastal waters, placing nearly all of their coastal
and estuarine areas under advisory. The states
were Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode
Island. Due in large part to these statewide
advisories, an estimated 84% of the coastal miles
of the Northeast Coast and 82% of the region's
estuarine area was under fish  consumption
advisories (Figure 3-23) in 2006, with a total of
49 different advisories active  for the estuarine
and coastal waters of the Northeast Coast during
that year. These advisories were in effect for eight
different pollutants (Figure 3-24).
                                   Number of Consumption
                                   Advisories per USGS
                                   Cataloging Unit in 2006
                                    CH I
                                        5-9
                                        10+
                                        Statewide Coastline and
                                        Estuarine Advisory
                                        (includes CT coastal waters)
             Figure 3-23. The number of fish consumption
             advisories active in 2006 for the Northeast Coast
             coastal waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
Contaminant
PCBs
Dioxin
Mercury
Chlorinated
Pesticides
Dieldrin
Cadmium
Others

1

1

1
r
                                                                                 10   20  30   40   SO   60   70  80   90   100
                                                                                         Percent of Fish Advisories
                                                                                       Listed for Each Contaminant
                                                                    Figure 3-24.  Pollutants responsible for fish
                                                                    consumption advisories in Northeast Coast coastal
                                                                    waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
                                                                    Note: An advisory can be issued for more than one
                                                                    contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than 100.

                                                                      Most of the fish advisory listings (96%) were, at
                                                                    least in part, caused by PCBs. Boston Harbor was
                                                                    listed for multiple pollutants (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
                                                                    Table 3-2 lists the species and/or groups under fish
                                                                    consumption advisory in 2006 for at least some
                                                                    part of the coastal waters of the Northeast Coast
                                                                    region.
                                                                     Table 3-2.  Species and/or Groups under Fish
                                                                     Consumption Advisory in 2006 for at Least
                                                                     Some Part of the Coastal Waters of the
                                                                     Northeast Coast Region  (U.S. EPA, 2007c)
                                                          American eel
                                                          Atlantic needlefish
                                                          Bivalves
                                                          Bluefish
                                                          Bluegill sunfish
                                                          Blue crab (whole and
                                                            hepatopancreas)
                                                          Brown bullhead
                                                          Common carp
                                                          Channel catfish
                                                          Flounder
                                                          Gizzard shad
                                                          Goldfish
                                                          King mackerel
                                                          Largemouth bass
Lobster (whole and
  tomalley)
Rainbow smelt
Scup
Shark
Shellfish
Smallmouth bass
Striped bass
Swordfish
Tautog
Tilefish
Trout
Tuna
Walleye
White catfish
White perch

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Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
Northeast Coast between 2004 and 2008?
  Table 3-3 presents the number of total beaches
and monitored beaches,  as well as the number
and percentage of monitored beaches, affected
by notification actions from 2004 to 2008 for
the Northeast Coast (i.e., New York's coastal
beaches, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware,
Maryland, and Virginia). Despite a slight increase
in the number of monitored beaches for the
Northeast Coast region from 2004 to 2005, the
percentage of beaches affected by notification
actions did not change for these years. Between
2006 and 2008, there were large fluctuations in
the total number of identified and monitored
beaches in this region, although little increase in the
percentage of monitored beaches with advisories
(U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual national and state
summaries are available on EPA's BEACH Program
Monitoring site: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
beaches/seasons/.
Table 3-3. Beach Notification Actions, Northeast Coast, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004a
1,740
1,440
212
15%
a Data from New York are not included for these years because the summaries
differentiate between the State's Great Lakes and marine beaches.
2005a
1,607
1,445
214
15%
under the
2006
1,782
1,61 1
389
24%
EPA's BEACH
2007
1,685
1,508
375
25%
Program did
2008
1,713
1,534
401
26%
not
                  *
                 4
                 *
                                            f
In 2007, 25% of the monitored beaches in the Northeast Coast region were affected by beach closures and advisories
at some point during the swimming season (courtesy of Andrew D. Stahl).

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        What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
           Table 3-4 presents the numbers and percentages
        of monitored Northeast Coast beaches affected
        by various pollution sources for 2007- Non-
        investigated, unknown, and unidentified pollution
        sources affected over 70% of beaches on the
        Northeast Coast in 2007- The other major reason
        for advisories was storm-related runoff, which
        contributed to over 30% of 2007 advisories. Other
        sources, including septic and sewer systems (i.e.,
        leakage, break, and overflow), non-storm runoff,
        boat discharge, wildlife, and treatment works
        accounted for around 10%  of the advisories (U.S.
        EPA, 2009d).
How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Over 50% of beach notifications in the
Northeast Coast region in 2007 lasted 1 day,
whereas over 25% lasted for only 2 days. Although
beach notification actions of the 3- to 7-day
duration accounted for over 15% of all the
notifications, those lasting 8 to 30 days comprised
only 3% of the advisories. Notifications of the
greatest duration (over 30 days) accounted for less
than 1% of all the advisories for the Northeast
Coast region in 2007 (U.S.  EPA, 2009d). For more
information on state beach  closures, please visit
EPA's Beaches website: http://water.epa.gov/type/
oceb/beaches/beaches  index, cfml.
        FortTilden beach, NJ (courtesy of NPS).
Table 3-4. Reasons for Beach Advisories, Northeast Coast, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Reason for Advisories

Pollution sources not investigated
Storm-related runoff
No known pollution sources
Other and/or unidentified sources
Sanitary/combined sewer overflow
Wildlife
Non-storm related runoff
Boat discharge
Septic system leakage
Publicly owned treatment works
Sewer line leak or break
Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple
Total Number of Monitored
Beaches Affected
495
473
399
174
46
19
15
13
12
5
5
pollution sources.
Percent of Total Monitored
Beaches Affected
33%
31%
26%
12%
3%
1%
1%
< 1%
< 1%
<-" 1 °/
*•< 1 70
<-" 1 °/
<•• 1 7o

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Summary
       Based on data from NCA and NOAA, the overall condition of Northeast
     Coast coastal waters is rated fair. Good water quality conditions predominate
     in the well-mixed, open estuaries of the Gulf of Maine, whereas the poorly
     flushed and highly settled estuaries south of Cape Cod are more susceptible to
     eutrophication. Clean sediments with low levels of chemical contamination,
     an absence of acute toxicity and moderate-to-low levels  of sediment TOC are
     found in 76%  of the Northeast Coast region's coastal area. Benthic conditions
     are considered  to be poor in 31 % of the coastal area, often in the vicinity of
     high human population density. The  coastal habitat index is rated good to fair.
     However, data  more recent than 2000 are unavailable in the proper format, and
     the coastal habitat index score for the Northeast Coast region is the same as was
     reported in the NCCR III. Fish tissue contamination is  also a concern in this
     region, with 20% of the samples rated poor and 20% rated fair.
       The assessment  of ocean condition in the Mid-Atlantic Bight found
     no major indications of poor  sediment or water quality conditions. Some
     indications of poor condition were observed in fish tissue contaminant analyses
     of methylmercury and PCBs; however, no contaminants exceeded the upper
     guidance limits.
       NOAA's NMFS manages several fisheries in the Northeast U.S. Continental
     Shelf LME, including invertebrates and demersal fish. Invertebrates, especially
     lobsters and scallops, are the most commercially valuable fishery in the
     Northeast Coast region. Lobster abundance in the Gulf of Maine has remained
     high in recent years due to favorable environmental conditions, despite heavy
     fishing pressure. The combination of effort controls and area closures has
     rapidly rebuilt  the sea scallop fishery in the Mid-Atlantic Bight so that the
     landings are at  record levels. Many stocks of principal demersal fish (such
     as cod and flounder) in this LME are considered overfished and currently
     rebuilding. However, after a decade of control measures, several of the demersal
     fish populations have begun to recover. Currently, goosefish are the most
     economically valuable demersal fishery, although they are less valuable per
     landed ton than other fish because, often, only the tail is sold. In addition to
     the substantial  market value of these commercial fisheries, recreational fish such
     as striped bass, shad, salmon, and summer flounder drive an economic engine
     that supports tourism, bait and tackle shops, recreational boating, and other
     recreations, all  of which contributes significantly to the value derived from the
     ecosystem service of fishery production.
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                Summary
                       Contamination in the coastal waters of the Northeast Coast region has
                     affected human uses of these waters. In 2006, more than 80% of the region's
                     coastal miles and estuarine areas were under fish consumption advisories. Most
                     advisories (greater than 90%) were issued for PCB contamination, alone or in
                     combination with one or more other contaminants. In addition, approximately
                     24% of the region's monitored beaches were closed or under advisory for some
                     period of time during 2006. Elevated bacteria levels in the region's coastal waters
                     were primarily responsible for the beach closures and advisories.
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                       Southeast  Coast Coastal   Condition
   As shown in Figure 4-1, the overall coastal
condition of the coastal waters of the Southeast
Coast region is rated fair, with an overall condition
score of 3-6. The benthic and fish tissue indices for
the Southeast Coast region are rated good, the water
quality and coastal habitat indices are rated fair;
and the sediment quality index is rated fair to poor.
Figure 4-2 provides a summary of the percentage of
coastal area in good, fair, poor, or missing categories
for each index and component indicator. This
assessment is based on environmental stressor and
response data collected by the NCA, in collaboration
with state resource agencies, from 557 locations
throughout Southeast Coast coastal waters using
comparable methods and techniques.
                               Overall Condition
                               Southeast Coast (3.6)
                                 od I Fair
                                            Poor
                             E Water Quality Index (3)

                             jj Sediment Quality Index (2)

                             I Benthic Index (S)
                               Coastal Habitat Index (3)
                               Fish Tissue Contaminants
                               Index (S)
             Figure 4-1. The overall condition of Southeast Coast
             coastal waters is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                       Please refer to Chapter I for
                       information about how these
                       assessments were made, the outpoints
                       used to develop the rating for each
                       index and component indicator, and the
                       limitations of the available data.
   Water Quality Index

         Nitrogen (DIN)

       Phosphorus(DIP)

          Chlorophyll a

          Water Clarity

       Dissolved Oxygen

 Sediment Quality Index

       Sediment Toxicity

   Sediment Contaminants

Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

         Benthic Index
                                                                             Fish Tissue
                                                                     Contaminants Index
                                                                             20    40    60     80    100
                                                                                Percent Coastal Area
                                                                 Good  Fair
                                                                              Poor
                                                                                     Missing
                                                     Figure 4-2. Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                     ranking for all indices and component indicators—
                                                     Southeast Coast region (U.S. EPA/NCA).

                                                        The Southeast Coast region contains a wealth of
                                                     resources, including barrier islands such as North
                                                     Carolina's Outer Banks; busy shipping ports in
                                                     Miami and Jacksonville, FL, Savannah, GA, and
                                                     Charleston, SC; quiet coastal wetlands that provide
                                                     a habitat for migratory birds and other animals;
                                                     and important commercial and recreational fishery
                                                     resources. The coastal resources of this region
                                                     are diverse and extensive, covering an estimated
                                                     4,487 square miles. The provinces of this region
                                                     include the Carolinian Province, which extends
                                                     from Cape Henry, VA, through the southern end
                                                     of the Indian River Lagoon, as well  as part of the
                                                     West Indian Province, which runs along the east
                                                     coast of Florida from the Indian River Lagoon
                                                     through Biscayne Bay. The borders of the Southeast
                                                     Coast region roughly coincide with the borders of
                                                     the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME. Also
     104

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    included in the Southeast Coast region is North
    Carolina's Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System,
    one of the largest and most productive aquatic
    systems in North America. The Albemarle-Pamlico
    system represents North Carolina's key resource base
    for commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and
    tourism. Similarly,  the coastal resources of other
    Southeast Coast states provide the resource base
    for fishing and tourism industries and generate vast
    amounts of sales tax income for those states.
      Between 1980 and 2006, the coastal counties
    of the Southeast Coast region showed the largest
    rate of population increase (79%) of any coastal
    region in the conterminous United States from
    7-15 million to 12.8 million people (Figure 4-3).
    The population density in Southeast Coast coastal
    counties (Figure 4-4) has also increased over this
    timeframe, from 186 to  332 persons/square mile
    (NOEP, 2010). There is evidence of human-
    induced stress in some areas of the Southeast Coast
    region. Given the influx of people and businesses
    to southeastern coastal states and the ensuing
    pressures on the coastal zones of this region, there is
    an increased need for effective management of the
    region's resources.
                           Population Density by County
                           (people/square mile) 2006
                            I  I Less than 125
                               125 to less than 300
                               300 to less than 900
                               900 to 1,500
Figure 4-4.  Population density in the Southeast Coast
region's coastal counties in 2006 (NOEP, 2010).
   15,000

•5  10,000
£.   5,000 -
o
u


            1980
                     1990
                             2000
                            Year
                                      2006
                                               2008
   Figure 4-3.  Population of coastal counties in Southeast
   Coast states, 1980-2008 (NOEP 2010).
Charleston, SC (courtesy of USCG).
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Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal Condition
   Several programs have monitored the coastal
waters of the Southeast Coast region, including
NOAA's NS&T Program and EPA's EMAP
Carolinian Province. EPA's NCA program began
partnerships with coastal states in this region in
1999 (South Carolina), 2000 (Georgia, Florida),
and 2001 (North Carolina). Sampling sites were
chosen randomly to represent larger spatial scales.
Participating state partners sampled waters during
the summer, when conditions were expected to
be most stressful (i.e., experiencing low dissolved
oxygen levels). This probabilistic sampling approach
enabled comparison within and across state
boundaries and allowed for the presentation of data
in terms of percentages of coastal area rated good,
fair, and poor.
              EI» Water Quality Index
               The water quality index for the coastal waters of
             the Southeast Coast region is rated fair, with 13%
             of the coastal area rated poor and 64% of the area
             rated fair for water quality condition (Figure 4-5).
             The water quality index was  developed based on
             measurements of five component indicators: DIN,
             DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and dissolved
             oxygen.

             Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
               The Southeast Coast region is rated good for
             DIN concentrations because 1 % of the region's
             coastal area was rated poor and  12% of the area
             was rated fair for this component indicator.
The Southeast Coast region is rated fair for DIP
concentrations, with 12% of the coastal area
rated poor and 47% of the area rated fair for this
component indicator.
                                                                  Southeast Coast Water Quality Index
                                                                 Site Criteria: Number of component
                                                                 indicators in poor or fair condition.

                                                                  O Good = No more than I is fair
                                                                  O Fair  = I  is poor or 2 or more are fair
                                                                  O Poor = 2 or more are poor
                                                                  O Missing
                      Poor
                       13%
                                                                               Missing
                                                                                 1%
                                                                                      Good
                                                                                       22%
                                                                                Fair
                                                                                64%
                                                     Figure 4-5.  Water quality index data for Southeast
                                                     Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                       The sampling conducted in the EPA NCA survey has been designed to estimate the percent
                       of estuarine area (nationally or in a region or state) in varying conditions and is displayed as pie
                       diagrams. Many of the figures in this report illustrate environmental measurements made at specific
                       locations (colored dots on maps); however, these dots (color) represent the value of the index
                       specifically at the time of sampling. Additional sampling would be required to define temporal
                       variability and to confirm environmental condition at specific locations.
     106

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                                                                                                                   ,
Chlorophyll a
   The Southeast Coast region is rated fair for
chlorophyll a because 73% of the coastal area was
rated fair and poor, combined, for this component
indicator.

Water Clarity
   Water clarity in the Southeast Coast region is
rated poor, with 21% of the coastal area rated fair
and 26% of the area rated poor for this component
indicator. The cutpoints used to assign water clarity
ratings varied across Southeast Coast coastal waters,
based on natural variations in turbidity levels and
local waterbody management goals (see Chapter
1 for additional information). The box shows the
cutpoints for rating a site in poor condition for
water clarity in estuarine systems with differing
levels of natural turbidity.
                            Cutpoints for a Poor
                            Rating (Percentage  of
                              Ambient Light that
                              Reaches I Meter in
        Coastal Areas               Depth)
 Indian River Lagoon Estuarine         < 20%
 System
 Albemarle-Pamlico and              < 10%
 Biscayne Bay estuarine
 systems
 All remaining Southeast              < 5%
 Coast estuarine systems

Dissolved Oxygen
   The Southeast Coast region is rated fair for
dissolved oxygen concentrations, with 11% of the
coastal area rated poor and 28% of the area rated
fair for this component indicator.
      Sediment Quality  Index
   The sediment quality index for the coastal
waters of the Southeast Coast region is rated fair
to poor, with 2% of the coastal area rated fair and
13% of the area rated poor for sediment quality
condition (Figure 4-6). The sediment quality index
was calculated based on measurements of three
component indicators: sediment toxicity, sediment
contaminants, and sediment TOC.
                                                                 The NCA monitoring data used
                                                                 in this assessment are based on
                                                                 single-day measurements collected at
                                                                 sites throughout the U.S. coastal waters
                                                                 (excluding the Great Lakes) during a
                                                                 9- to 12-week period during the
                                                                 summer. Data were not collected
                                                                 during other time periods.
                                                                                                                   o
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                                                                                                                   .O
                                                             O
                                                             O

                                                       Southeast Coast Sediment Quality Index
                                                                     Site Criteria: Number and condition of
                                                                     component indicators.
                                                                     O Good = None is poor, and sediment
                                                                              contaminants is good
                                                                     O Fair = None is poor, and sediment
                                                                              contaminants is fair
                                                                     • Poor = I or more are poor
                                                                     O Missing
                                                                              Poor    Missing
                             Good   Fair    Poor
Figure 4-6.  Sediment quality index data for Southeast
Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
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Sed/ment Tox/c/ty
   The Southeast Coast region is rated poor for
sediment toxicity, with 83% of the area rated good
and approximately 8% of the coastal area rated
poor for this component indicator. The cutpoint
for a good rating is less than or equal to 5% of the
area being rated poor. Although the rating changed
from good in previous surveys to poor in this one,
there was only a 3% change in the areal extent of
sediments considered toxic. Sediment toxicity is
commonly associated with high concentrations
of metals or organic chemicals with known toxic
effects on benthic organisms; however, most of
the sites that were rated poor for sediment toxicity
did not have high concentrations of sediment
contaminants measured through the NCA. The
toxicity at these sites may have been caused by
naturally occurring conditions or persistent levels of
contaminants that were not measured by the NCA.

Sed/ment Contaminants
   The Southeast Coast region is rated good
for sediment contaminant concentrations, with
approximately 3% of the coastal area rated fair
and 1% of the area rated poor for this component
indicator.

Sed/ment TOC
   The Southeast Coast region is rated good for
sediment TOC concentrations, with 17% of the
coastal area rated fair and 4% of the area rated poor
for this component indicator.
                   Benthic  Index
               The biological condition of the coastal waters
             of the Southeast Coast region, as measured by the
             Southeast Coast Benthic Index, is rated good. Van
             Dolah et al. (1999) developed the benthic index
             based on several measures of benthic community
             condition, including the total number of species
             and integrated measures of species dominance,
             species abundance, and abundance of pollution-
             sensitive taxa. The index shows that 82% of the
             Southeast Coast region's coastal area was rated good
for benthic condition, 13% of the area was rated
fair, and 3% of the area was rated poor (Figure
4-7). Stations rated poor were located in portions
of the northern portion of Florida's St. Johns
River; portions of the Savannah, Bear, Vernon, and
Medway rivers in Georgia; the Neuse and New
rivers in North Carolina; and the Coosaw River,
Cape Romaine Refuge, and Winyah Bay in South
Carolina.
                                                                   Southeast Coast Benthic Index
                                                                                  Site Criteria: Southeast Coast Benthic
                                                                                  Index Score.
                                                                                  • Good = > 2.5
                                                                                  O Fair  = 2.0-2.5
                                                                                  O Poor = < 2.0
                                                                                  O Missing
                                                                                           Poor
                                                                                        Fair  3%
                                                                                        13%
                                                                                 Good  Fair    Poor
                                                     Figure 4-7. Benthic index data for Southeast Coast
                                                     coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     108

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      Coastal Habitat Index
   The coastal habitat index for the coastal waters
of the Southeast Coast region is rated fair. As
reported in the NCCRII (U.S. EPA, 2004b) and
NCCR III (U.S. EPA, 2008c), coastal wetlands
in the Southeast Coast region diminished from
1,107,370 acres in 1990 to 1,105,170 acres
in 2000, representing a loss of 2,200 acres or
0.2%. Human activities  (e.g., land development,
eutrophication, the introduction of toxic chemicals
and exotic species) can directly impact wetlands.
Sea-level rise, subsidence, and interference with
normal erosional/depositional processes and water
flow paths can also contribute to wetland losses.
 Southeast Coast Fish Tissue Contaminants
 Index
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for the
coastal waters of the Southeast Coast region is
rated good. Fish tissue samples were collected at
368 of the 557 NCA sampling sites (64%)  in the
Southeast Coast region. Figure 4-8 shows that 8%
of sites sampled where fish were caught were rated
poor using whole-fish contaminant concentrations
and EPA advisory guidance values. Contaminant
concentrations exceeding EPA advisory guidance
values in Southeast samples were observed
primarily in Atlantic croaker, catfish, and spot (U.S.
EPA, 2000c). Commonly observed contaminants
included total PAHs, PCBs, DDT, mercury, and
              Site Criteria: EPA guidance concentration
                                                                   • Good = Below guidance range
                                                                   O Fair  = Falls within guidance range
                                                                   • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
arsenic.
Figure 4-8. Fish tissue contaminants index data for
Southeast Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Estuarine scrub is a type of coastal wetland characterized by occasional tidal flooding (courtesy of NOAA).
                                                                                                          109

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       Trends of Coastal Monitoring
       Data—Southeast Coast Region

       Temporal Change in Ecological
       Condition
         In 2000, EMAP-NCA initiated annual
       surveys of coastal condition in the Southeast.
       Results stemming from the 2000 and 2001-2002
       surveys have been reported in the NCCR II and
       III, respectively. The NCCR IV represents the
       final installment of EMAP-NCA assessments
       and reports on data collected during a 3-year
       period, 2003—2006.  The 7 years of accumulated
       monitoring data provide an ideal opportunity to
       investigate temporal changes in ecological condition
       assessment indicators. For the Southeast, these
       data can be analyzed to answer two basic types
       of assessment-related trend questions: what is the
       inter-annual variability in the proportions of area
       rated poor from 2000 to 2006; and has there been
       a significant change in the proportion of poor area
       from 2000 to 2006?
         All of the condition indicators can be  compared
       over time because data supporting these parameters
       were collected using similar protocols and QA/
       QC methods. NCA implemented probability-
       based  surveys to estimate the percentage of coastal
       area in good, fair, or poor condition based on
       the indicators. Standard errors for these estimates
       were calculated according to methods listed on
       the EMAP Aquatic Resource Monitoring Web site
       (http://www.epa.gov/nheerl/arm). The cutpoints
       listed  in Chapter 1 were used to determine
       good,  fair, or poor condition for each index and
       component indicator. Inter-annual variation was
       evaluated by comparing annual estimates of the
       percent area in poor condition for each indicator
       and the associated standard error. A 2-year
       survey design was implemented for 2005—2006;
       therefore, this period was treated as a single "year."
       Trends in the percent area in poor condition for
       each indicator were evaluated using the Mann-
       Kendall statistical test. Although there were
       minor differences from year to year, there were
no statistically significant trends in water quality,
sediment quality, or benthic condition in the
Southeast estuaries from 2000—2006.
  Neither the water quality index nor any of the
component indicators showed a significant linear
trend over time in the percent area rated in poor
condition (Figures 4-9 through 4-14).
100
 80
 60
 40
 20
Q
                                         • Good
                                         • Fair
                                         • Poor
                                         D Missing
     2000   2001   2002   2003   2004  2005-06
                    Year

 Figure 4-9.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
 waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for water
 quality index measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. ERA/
 NCA).
                                                           Lionfish is an invasive species that has become
                                                           established in the coastal waters of the Southeast Coast
                                                           region overthe past ten years (courtesy of NOAA).
10

-------
                                                                                                                            ,
                                                                                                                             o
                                                                                                                             Q.
 100
  80
£ 60
  40
  20
      L
n
1
•  Good
•  Fair
•  Poor
D  Missing
      2000   2001    2002   2003   2004  2005-06
                       Year
                                                           100
                                                            80
                 £  60
                                                            40
                                                            20

                                                                                                         • Good
                                                                                                         D Fair
                                                                                                         • Poor
                                                                                                         D Missing
                                                                                   .O
                                                                                   O
                                                                                   O
                                                                2000   2001
                                    2002   2003
                                        Year
                                                                                           2004  2005-06

 Figure 4-10.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
 waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for DIN
 measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                  Figure 4-11.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
                  waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for DIP
                  measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
      2000  2001
                    2002   2003
                       Year
                                 2004  2005-06
                                                            100
                                                            80
                                                            60 -
                                                            40 -
                                                            20 -

—





-
200C

















2001










-






2002








Yea
	

-





2003
r












-




2004








2








DOS/








36

D Fair
• Poor
D Missing







  Figure 4-12.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
  waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for
  chlorophyll a measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/
  NCA).
                  Figure 4-1 3. Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
                  waters in good, fair, poor; or missing categories for water
                  clarity measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                                      I  I

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T5
o
O
 O
O
 O
O
3
O
100
               80
               60
               40
               20
                                          • Good
                                          • Fair
                                          • Poor
                                          D Missing
                  2000   2001
                               2002  2003
                                  Year
                                            2004  2005/06
              Figure 4-14.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
              waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for
              bottom-water dissolved oxygen concentrations
              measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                       100
                                                                      80
                                                                      60
                                                                      40
                                                                      20
^
•  Good
•  Fair
•  Poor
D  Missing
                                                                          2000   2001
                                                                        2002  2003
                                                                            Year
                                                                                                   2004  2005-06
                                                      Figure 4-15. Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
                                                      waters in good, fair, poor; or missing categories for the
                                                      sediment quality index measured from 2000-2006
                                                      (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                The sediment quality index and component
              indicators (i.e., sediment toxicity, sediment
              contaminants, and sediment TOC) were also
              compared over time (Figures 4-15 through 4-18).
              Although there were no significant differences
              in the percent area rated poor for any of the
              indicators, the percent area rated poor for the
              sediment quality index in 2003 was higher than for
              other survey years. This was largely due to  amount
              of area rated poor for sediment toxicity in  2003-
                The benthic index for Southeast Coast
              coastal waters is a multimetric indicator of the
              biological condition of benthic macroinvertebrate
              communities. Biological condition indicators
              integrate the response of aquatic organisms to
              changes  in water quality and sediment quality over
              time. There was no significant trend in the percent
              area with poor benthic condition from 2000—2006.
              However, the percent area with poor  benthic
              condition decreased fairly steadily from 2000 to
              2006 (Figure 4-19).
                                                       100
                                                        so
                                                        60
                                                        40
                                                        20
                                                                                                  • Good
                                                                                                  • Fair
                                                                                                  • Poor
                                                                                                  D Missing
                                                            2000   2001   2002  2003   2004  2005-06
                                                                            Year

                                                      Figure 4-16. Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
                                                      waters in good, fair, poor; or missing categories for
                                                      sediment toxicity measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/
                                                      NCA).
      12

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100
 80
 60
 40
 20
                                             •  Good
                                             D  Fair
                                             •  Poor
                                             D  Missing
     2000   2001
                  2002   2003
                      Year
                               2004  2005-06
Figure 4-17.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for
sediment contaminants measured from 2000-2006
(U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                          100
                                                           80
                                                           60
                                                           40
                                                           20
                                N
•  Good
D  Fair
•  Poor
D  Missing
                                                               2000  2001
                  2002   2003
                      Year
                                                                                         2004  2005-06
Figure 4-18.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for
sedimentTOC measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/
NCA).
 100
 80
 60
 40
 20
                                             • Good
                                             D Fair
                                             • Poor
                                             D Missing
     2000   2001
                  2002   2003
                      Year
                                2004  2005-06
Figure 4-19.  Percent area of Southeast Coast coastal
waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for the
benthic index measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/
NCA).
More than forty species of stony corals are found
on Florida's coral reefs, part of which are found in
the southern portion of the Southeast Coast region
(courtesy of Florida Department of Environmental
Protection).
                                                                                                                     13

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       Coastal Ocean Condition—
       South Atlantic Bight
          The South Atlantic Bight generally is defined as
       the coastal region extending from Cape Hatteras,
       NC, to West Palm Beach, FL (e.g., Alegria et al.,
       2000), although some authors have used Cape
       Canaveral as the southern boundary (e.g., Allen
       et al., 1983). This area encompasses aquatic
       habitats from estuaries seaward to the outer edge
       of the continental shelf (Figure 4-20). This region
       is also roughly equivalent to the Southeast U.S.
       Continental Shelf LME (U.S. Commission on
       Ocean Policy, 2004). In March-April 2004, NOAA
       and the EPA conducted a study to assess the current
       status of ecological condition and stressor impacts
       throughout coastal ocean waters of the South
       Atlantic Bight and to provide this information
       as a baseline for evaluating future  changes due to
       natural or human-induced disturbances.
       Figure 4-20. Map of Southeast coastal ocean sampling
       stations (Cooksey et al., 2010).
   To address these objectives, the study
incorporated standard methods and indicators
applied in previous coastal EMAP/NCA projects
and NCCR series (U.S. EPA, 2001b, 2004b,
2008c), including multiple measures of water
quality, sediment quality, and biological condition.
A probabilistic sampling design, which included
50 stations distributed randomly throughout the
region, was used to provide a basis for estimating
the spatial extent of condition relative to the various
measured indicators and corresponding cutpoints
(where available).  Conditions throughout these
coastal ocean waters are also compared to those of
southeastern estuaries, based on data from NCA
surveys conducted in  2003—2006 (featured in the
previous section).  A more detailed report on results
of the South Atlantic  Bight offshore assessment is
provided by Cooksey et al. (2010).
                                                              E Water Quality

                                                           Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                                                              The average concentration of DIN (i.e., nitrogen
                                                           as nitrate + nitrite + ammonium) in ocean surface
                                                           waters was 0.038 mg/L. Estuarine surface waters
                                                           had much higher DIN concentrations, which
                                                           averaged 0.079 mg/L (Figure 4-21). Although
                                                           water-quality assessment cutpoints for DIN have
                                                           not been established for ocean waters, reference to
                                                           NCA cutpoints for estuaries (see Chapter 1) may be
                                                           useful for comparative purposes. Accordingly, 98%
                                                           of the survey area would be rated good for DIN and
                                                           none of the area would be rated poor.
                                                              Concentrations of DIP in coastal ocean surface
                                                           waters averaged 0.028 mg/L and were lower than
                                                           those measured in estuaries of the region, which
                                                           averaged 0.045 mg/L (Figure 4-21). Similar to
                                                           DIN, there are no available water-quality assessment
                                                           cutpoints for rating observed levels of DIP in coastal
                                                           ocean waters. However, for comparison, 92% of the
                                                           survey area would be rated fair and 8% of the area
                                                           would be rated poor using the NCA cutpoints. DIP
                                                           levels in coastal ocean surface waters of the South
                                                           Atlantic Bight also  appear to be lower than those
14

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 Estuaries

  Coastal
   Ocean
               0.02
                      0.04     0.06
                        DIN (mg/L)
                                     0.08
                                             0.10
 Estuaries
  Coastal
   Ocean
             0.01
                    0.02   0.03   0.04
                        DIP (mg/L)
                                       0.05   0.06
 Estuaries

  Coastal
   Ocean
                     4      6
                       Chi a (ug/L)

 Figure 4-21. Mean concentrations + 95% confidence
 intervals of (a) DIN, (b) DIRand (c) chlorophyll a in
 coastal ocean vs. estuarine surface waters (Cooksey et
 al., 2010; U.S. EPA/NCA).

observed to the north in the Mid-Atlantic Bight
(see Chapter 3; also see Balthis et al., 2009). Near-
bottom concentrations of DIP along the South
Atlantic Bight, which averaged 0.024 mg/L, were
similar to those measured in surface waters.
   DIN/DIP ratios were calculated as an indicator
of which nutrient may be controlling primary
production. A ratio above 16 indicates that
phosphorus is the limiting nutrient, whereas a
ratio below 16 is indicative of nitrogen limitation
(Geider and La Roche, 2002). Nitrogen to
phosphorus ratios for offshore surface waters
averaged 3-69, with 100% of the survey area
indicating a nitrogen-limited environment.

Chlorophyll a
   Concentrations of chlorophyll a in coastal
ocean surface waters, which averaged 0.44 ug/L,
were considerably lower than those measured in
estuaries  (averaging 9-81 ug/L) (Figure 4-21). As
a further comparison, 100% of the survey area
would be rated good using the NCA cutpoints.
Chlorophyll a levels in these coastal ocean surface
waters were also much lower than those observed
along the west coast of the United States (e.g.,
average of 6.04 ug/L; see Chapter 6 and Nelson et
al., 2008) and slightly higher than those measured
in the Mid-Atlantic Bight (average of 0.23 ug/L; see
Chapter 3 and Balthis et al., 2009). Near-bottom
concentrations of chlorophyll a along the South
Atlantic Bight, which averaged 0.67 ug/L, were
slightly higher in comparison to the surface-water
mean of 0.44 ug/L.

Water Clarity
   Concentrations of TSS were used as a surrogate
indicator of water clarity for coastal ocean waters.
TSS concentrations in coastal ocean surface waters
averaged 3-64 mg/L, which was considerably lower
than levels  typically observed in estuaries of the
region (e.g., mean of 80.7 mg/L, 2003-2006 NCA
data). While most offshore surface waters had
TSS concentrations under 6.21 mg/L, the 90th
percentile of all measured values, most estuarine
surface waters (55% of the survey area) had TSS
concentrations above this level. Near-bottom
concentrations of TSS in the coastal ocean waters,
which averaged 3-30 mg/L, were similar to those
measured in surface waters.

Dissolved Oxygen
   Near-bottom concentrations of dissolved oxygen
in coastal ocean waters averaged 7-8 mg/L and
would be rated good in 100% of the offshore survey
area using the NCA cutpoints (Figure 4-22). In
comparison, about 60% of the estuarine area was
rated good  for the dissolved oxygen component
indicator, 28% was rated fair (dissolved oxygen
2.0—5-0 mg/L), and 11% was rated poor (dissolved
oxygen < 2 mg/L). Dissolved oxygen levels in
coastal ocean surface waters (average of 7-7 mg/L)
were similar to those in near-bottom waters.
                                                                                                                   .O
 O
O

                                                                                                              15

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                              Estuaries
                                     Missing
                                       1%
— ^=- Fair
28% V /
Dissolved Oxygen
• Good = > S mg/L
O Fair = 2-5 mg/L
• Poor = < 2 mg/L
^_



Good Fair

y
^Gooc
60%


Poor
Figure 4-22.  Dissolved oxygen data in near-bottom
waters of the South Atlantic Bight (Cooksey et al., 2010;
U.S. EPA/NCA).
Note:  Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
dissolved oxygen levels.
      Sediment Quality
Sediment Contaminants
   Shelf sediments of the South Atlantic Bight
appeared to be relatively uncontaminated. No
contaminants were found in excess of their
corresponding ERM sediment quality values (Long
et al., 1995). Three metals (arsenic, cadmium, and
silver) were found at moderate concentrations,
between corresponding ERL and ERM values, at 9
of the 50 offshore sampling sites, and none of these
sites had more than one ERL value exceeded. Based
on the cutpoints used by NCA to assess estuarine
condition, 100% of the offshore survey area would
be rated good for the sediment contaminants
component indicator. In comparison, 3% of
estuarine area was rated fair and 1 % was rated
poor (Figure 4-23). While ratings of poor and fair
with respect to sediment contamination were also
fairly limited in estuaries of the region (4% of total
estuarine area), at least one chemical contaminant
exceeded corresponding ERL values at many of the
sampling sites.
           Guidelines for Assessing
           Sediment Contamination (Long
           etal., 1995)
           ERM (Effects Range Median)—
           Determined values for each chemical
           as the 50th percentile (median) in a
           database of ascending concentrations
           associated with adverse biological
           effects.
           ERL (Effects Range Low)—
           Determined values for each chemical
           as the I Oth percentile in a database of
           ascending concentrations associated
           with adverse biological effects.

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     Sediment Contaminants
      • Good = No ERM exceeded and < 5 ERLs exceeded
      O Fair  = No ERM exceeded and > 5 ERLs exceeded
      • Poor = > I ERM exceeded
                               3ood
                                     Fair
                                            Poor
Figure 4-23. Sediment contaminants data in the South
Atlantic Bight (Cooksey et al., 2010; U.S. EPA/NCA).
Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
conditions.

Sediment TOC
   High levels of TOC in sediments can serve as
an indicator of adverse conditions and are often
associated with increasing proportions of finer-
grained sediment particles (i.e., silt-clay fraction)
that tend to provide greater surface area for
sorption of both organic matter and the chemical
pollutants that bind to organic matter. Given such
an association, it is useful to note that  100% of the
coastal ocean survey area had sediments composed
of sands (< 20% silt-clay).  Such predominantly
sandy sediments, with some exceptions, generally
                                                       had low levels of TOC, with values ranging from
                                                       0.001-3-99% and averaging 0.35%. Ninety percent
                                                       of the coastal ocean survey area would be rated
                                                       good for the sediment TOC component indicator,
                                                       10% would be rated fair, and none would be rated
                                                       poor using NCA cutpoints (Figure 4-24). Estuaries
                                                       of the region, which are often in closer proximity to
                                                       both natural and anthropogenic sources of organic
                                                       materials, generally had higher levels of TOC, with
                                                       values averaging 1.21%. Seventy-five percent of the
                                                       estuarine area had was rated good for the sediment
                                                       TOC component indicator, 17% was rated fair, and
                                                       4% was rated poor.
    Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
     • Good = < 2%
     O Fair  = 2-5%
     • Poor  = > 5%
                              Good   Fair
                                           Poor
Figure 4-24.  Sediment TOC data in the South Atlantic
Bight (Cooksey et al., 2010; U.S. EPA/NCA).
Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
conditions.
                                                              .O
                                                              O
                                                              O

                                                                                                               17

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T5
o
O
 O
O
 O
O
3
o
      Benthic Condition
   The South Atlantic Bight coastal ocean supports
a diverse assemblage of macro-benthic infauna
(sediment-dwelling animals larger than 0.5 mm).
A total of 6,236 individual specimens representing
462 taxa (313 distinct species) were identified in 50
grab samples collected throughout the assessment
area. Polychaete worms were the dominant taxa,
both by percent abundance and percent taxa,
followed by crustaceans. Collectively, these two
groups represented 75% of total faunal abundance
and 77% of taxa throughout these coastal ocean
waters.
   Although densities of benthic infauna were
similar between coastal ocean and estuarine
habitats, mean diversity and mean number of taxa
were both higher in the coastal ocean sediments
(Figure 4-25). Diversity and numbers of species
in these offshore sediments were also  higher in
comparison to values observed in more northern
waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight (see Chapter 3).
Within the South Atlantic Bight coastal ocean
assessment area, numbers of species tended to
decrease  with increasing latitude and  were generally
highest in the outer shelf areas (Cooksey et al.,
2010).
   The 10 dominant (i.e.,  most abundant) offshore
taxa were the polychaete worms Spiophanes bombyx,
Protodorvillea kefersteini, Mediomastus spp., Synelmis
ewingi, and Exogone lourei; amphipod crustaceans
Ampelisca abdita and Protohaustorius wigleyi;
oligochaete worms (family Tubificidae); chordate
Branchiostoma spp.; and unidentified ribbon  worms
(Nemertea). Three of these taxa—Nemertea,
Tubificidae, and Spiophanes bombyx—were widely
distributed throughout the region, occurring at
greater than 50% of the stations.
   The composition of coastal ocean assemblages
was markedly different from estuaries of the
region (Cooksey et al., 2010). Only five taxa were
common to both the coastal ocean and estuarine
lists of 50 most abundant  taxa. They were the
amphipod Ampelisca abdita, polychaete genus
Mediomastus spp., Actiniaria (sea anemones),
Nemertea, and Tubificidae. Although A. abdita
was among the 10 most abundant taxa offshore, it
occurred at only 1 of the 50 offshore stations (at a
very high density). Also, individual species within
the Nemertea and Tubificidea taxanomic groups
are most likely different between the estuarine and
offshore environments. No taxa identified to the
species level, other than A. abdita, were among the
50 most abundant taxa in both the estuarine and
coastal ocean environments.
                                                                     Estuaries
                                                                                  10     20      30      40
                                                                                  Richness (Number of taxa/0.04 m2)
                                                                                                               50
                                                                     Estuaries

                                                                      Coastal
                                                                      Ocean
                                                                     Estuaries
                                                                                 1,000   2,000   3,000    4,000
                                                                                 Density (Number of individuals/m2)
                                           5,000
                                                                                     1234
                                                                                       Diversity (H70.04 m2)

                                                                   Figure 4-25. Comparison of benthic species richness
                                                                   (number of taxa/0.04 m2), density (individuals/m2), and
                                                                   diversity (H70.04 m2, base 2 logs) in coastal ocean vs.
                                                                   estuarine sediments (Cooksey et al., 2010; U.S. EPA/
                                                                   NCA).

                                                                   Non-Indigenous Species
                                                                      No non-indigenous species were found in
                                                                   benthic samples from any of the  50 coastal ocean
                                                                   sampling stations. Three non-indigenous species—
                                                                   Corbiculafluminea (Asian clam), Petrolisthes
                                                                   armatus (green porcelain crab), and Rangia cuneata
                                                                   (Atlantic rangia)—were identified in benthic
                                                                   samples from the estuaries of the Southeast Coast
                                                                   region sampled as part of the NCA efforts in
                                                                   2000-2004 (Cooksey et al., 2010). Still, these three
                                                                   species represented a relatively small proportion
      18

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(< 0.01%) of the total 408 taxa that were identified
to species level from the analysis of 1,039 estuarine
grab samples (0.04-square meters each). The South
Atlantic Bight benthic community appears to be
less invaded than some other coastal regions, such
as the Pacific Coast, where non-indigenous species
are common in estuaries and occur in the coastal
ocean as well, though in more limited numbers
(e.g., 1.2% of the identified species in the coastal
ocean study by Nelson et al., 2008; also see Chapter
6 of this NCCR). Although no non-indigenous
benthic species were observed in the 2004 coastal
ocean survey, it is important to note that there
have been increasing reports in the literature of
other non-indigenous species, such as the lionfish
(Pterois spp.), invading offshore waters along the
southeastern United States (Hare and Whitfield,
2003).
      Fish Tissue Contaminants
   Analysis of chemical contaminants in fish tissues
was performed on homogenized filets (including
skin) from 20 samples of 7 fish species collected
from 17 of the 50 coastal ocean stations. The
species were sand perch (Diplectrum formosum),
black seabass (Centropristis striata), dusky flounder
(Syacium papillosum), whitebone porgy (Calamus
leucosteus), red porgy (Pagrus pagrus), lizardfish
(Synodus foetens), and snake fish (Trac
myops). Concentrations of a suite of metals,
pesticides, and PCBs were compared to risk-based
EPA advisory guidance values for recreational
fishers (U.S. EPA, 2000c). None of the 17 stations
where fish were caught would be rated poor, 12%
would be rated fair, and 88% would be rated good
based on the NCA cutpoints.

Coastal Ocean Condition
Summary—South Atlantic  Bight
   The 2004 South Atlantic Bight coastal ocean
assessment showed no major evidence  of poor
sediment or water quality. Dissolved oxygen
concentrations in near-bottom waters were at least
6.8 mg/L, all rated good based on NCA cutpoints.
All of the survey area was rated as good for the
sediment contaminants component indicator. The
majority (90%) of the coastal ocean survey area
was rated good for the sediment TOC component
indicator, and the remaining 10% was rated fair.
   There was a slight  indication of human-health
risks based on chemical contaminant levels in
fish tissues. For example, concentrations of
methylmercury were  found between corresponding
lower and upper human-health endpoints at 2 of
17 sites where fish were measured, resulting in a
fair rating for 12% of the stations where fish were
caught. In addition, no non-indigenous species
were found in any of the coastal ocean benthic
samples.
.O
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          Evaluating Offshore Benthic Condition
          Multi-metric benthic indices are often used as indicators of pollution-induced degradation of the
          benthos (see review by Diaz et al.,2004). An important feature is the ability to combine multiple
          biological attributes into a single measure that maximizes the ability to distinguish between degraded
          vs. non-degraded benthic condition, while accounting for the influence of natural controlling factors.
          Although a related benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) has been developed for southeastern
          estuaries (Van Dolah et al., 1999), there is currently no such index available for coastal ocean
          applications. In the absence of a benthic index, Cooksey et al. (2010) assessed potential stressor
          impacts in the South Atlantic Bight coastal ocean study by looking for obvious linkages between
          reduced values of key biological attributes (numbers of taxa, diversity, and abundance) and
          synoptically measured indicators of poor sediment or water quality. Low values of species richness,
          H', and density were defined for the purpose of this analysis as the lower I Oth percentile of observed
          values. Evidence of poor sediment or water quality was defined as poor ratings for the sediment
          contaminants, sedimentTOC, and dissolved oxygen  component indicators based on NCA cupoints.
                                                                                                            19

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   The analysis of potential biological impacts
(see text box) found no association of low values
of biological attributes with indicators of poor
sediment or water quality. In fact, no indications
of poor sediment or water quality were observed
based on the NCA cutpoints. These results suggest
that the coastal ocean sediments and overlying
waters of the South Atlantic Bight are in generally
good condition, with lower-end values of biological
attributes representing parts of a normal reference
range controlled by natural factors.
   Alternatively, it is possible that for some of
these sites, the lower values of benthic variables
reflect symptoms of disturbance induced by other
unmeasured stressors. In an effort to be consistent
with the underlying concepts and protocols of
earlier EMAP/NCA programs, the indicators in
the coastal ocean assessment  included measures
of stressors, such as chemical contaminants and
symptoms of eutrophication, which are often
associated with adverse biological impacts in
shallower estuarine and inland ecosystems.
However, there may be other sources of human-
induced stress in these coastal ocean systems,
particularly those causing physical disruption of the
seafloor (e.g., commercial bottom trawling, cable
placement, minerals extraction)  that pose greater
risks to living resources and that have not been
adequately captured. Future monitoring efforts in
these coastal ocean areas should  include indicators
of such alternative sources of disturbance.

Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Southeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME
   The Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
extends from Cape Hatteras, NC, to the Straits
of Florida (Figure 4-26) and  is characterized by
its temperate climate. This LME is considered
to be moderately productive, based on primary
production (phytoplankton) estimates, and
upwelling along the Gulf Stream front and
intrusions from the Gulf Stream can cause short-
lived plankton blooms. The flow of fresh water
from watersheds that drain the lower Appalachian
Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plains mixes
along the coast with prevailing oceanic waters
to create diverse wetlands, marsh, and mangrove
habitats that transition gradually from freshwater
to brackish-water to saltwater areas. The thin
fringe of estuaries in this LME is dynamic, varying
constantly with tidal fluctuations and levels
of runoff, and serves as important habitat for
invertebrates, fish, reptiles, waterfowl, mammals,
and a diverse array of plants. These estuaries also
act as a natural filter to remove pollutants and trap
sediments from upland regions.
                                                                              Southeast U.S.
                                                                             Continental Shelf
                                                                                                |   | Relevant Large
                                                                                                    Marine Ecosystem
                                                                  Figure 4-26. Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf (NOAA,
                                                                  201 Ob).
     120

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   The Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
coastal area supports diverse aquatic organisms
and complex food webs. From 2003 to 2006, the
fisheries in this LME generated $577 million in
total ex-vessel revenues (the value of landings before
processing).  The Southeast fisheries are dominated
by blue crab and white shrimp, which generated
approximately $140 million and $96 million in
revenues from 2003 to 2006,  respectively. The
dominance of these fisheries is significant; the next
highest grossing fishery, brown shrimp, generated
$35 million from 2003 to 2006. The other top
commercial  fisheries in this LME are cero mackerel,
king mackerel, and summer flounder (NMFS,
2010). See Figure 4-27 for total 2003 to 2006 ex-
vessel revenues and landings (in metric tons) for the
top commercial fisheries in  this LME. The fisheries
in this LME are largely managed by the NMFS and
the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
(NOAA, 2007),  although some of the fisheries
are also managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council.
    Fisheries in the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
    generated $577 million at dock side between 2003
    and 2006 (courtesy of South Carolina Department of
    Health and Environmental Control).
         ut
            80,000
             70,000
             60,000
          .  40,000
             30,000
            20,000
             10,000
                  Landings

                  Value
                                     140
                                                                                       120
                                                                                       100
                                                                                      80
                                                                                      60
                                                                                      40
                                                                                      20
                                                                                            I
                                                                                            e
                                                                                            ID
                                           O
                                           3
                                           a
                        Blue Crab      White
                                     Shrimp
 Brown
 Shrimp
Species
Summer
Flounder
King and Cero
  Mackerel
             Figure 4-27. Top commercial fisheries for the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME: landings
             (metric tons) and value (million dollars) from 2003-2006 (NMFS, 2010).
                                                                                                            121

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        Southeast Shelf Invertebrate
        Fisheries
           Recreational and commercial marine
        invertebrates in the Southeast U.S. Continental
        Shelf LME include blue crab, shrimp, spiny
        lobster, quahog clam, stone crab, and conch. The
        commercial blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) fishery
        yields the highest revenues in this region, totaling
        nearly $140 million from 2003 through 2006 for
        landings  of nearly 80,000 metric tons (Figure 4-27)
        (NMFS,  2010). Although the Chesapeake Bay is
        famous for its blue crabs, which are the pride of
        Maryland,  many of its local restaurants and markets
        actually import this delicacy from the Southeast
        fishermen.  Crab fishermen separate the catch by
        sex and molting stage (crabs repeatedly shed  and
        rebuild their shells throughout their lives), selling
        hard-shelled crabs, "peelers"  (those getting ready to
        shed),  and  soft shell crabs (those  that have recently
        shed their shells). Blue crabs are an integral part
        of the marine food web; they feed on detritus and
        numerous benthic organisms and serve as a food
        source for many bird and fish species. In addition
        to fishing pressure, this species is heavily impacted
        by habitat degradation, especially to underwater
        seagrasses that it uses for forage, mating, and
        nurseries. Crabs are harvested with the use of pots
        or traps,  mesh wire cages with two  entrances just
        large enough for the crab to squeeze in, while
        prohibiting exit.
                                            "    v   'V
        The blue crab fishery is the largest fishery in the
        Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME both in terms
        of landings and value (courtesy of South Carolina
        Department of Natural Resources).
   The Southeast Coast white (Litopenaeus setiferus)
and brown (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) shrimp
fisheries, though smaller than their counterparts in
the Gulf of Mexico, are two of the most valuable
fisheries in the United States. Together, their total
U.S. landings were worth $1.3 billion in ex-vessel
revenues from 2003 to 2006 (NMFS, 2010). These
fisheries have high values per metric ton. With
landings of one-quarter of the weight of those of
blue crab, the white shrimp fisheries generated
three-quarters of the crab fishery revenues (Figure
4-27). In the Southeast Coast region along the
Atlantic Ocean, white shrimp stocks are centered
off the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, and
brown shrimp are centered  off the North and South
Carolina coasts. In general,  shrimp reside in shallow
waters (90 feet or less), feeding on various benthic
organisms, and migrate out of inshore spawning
areas to offshore commercial fishing grounds in
early autumn.  Other valuable shrimp fisheries in
this area include rock, prawn, and pink species.
The Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME, the
shrimp fishery is currently managed under a federal
FMP (SAFMC, 20lib). The FMP provides for
compatible state and federal closures, if needed, to
protect over-wintering shrimp stocks and includes
overfishing definitions for all species. The Southeast
Coast shrimp fisheries face the same by-catch issues
associated with usage of small-mesh trawl nets in
the Gulf of Mexico fisheries.
   Habitat concerns impact many of the Southeast
U.S. Continental  Shelf LME invertebrate fishery
resources. Estuarine and marsh loss removes
critical habitat used by young shrimp (Minello et
al., 2003). Florida spiny lobsters depend on reef
habitat and shallow water algal flats for feeding and
reproduction, but these habitat requirements may
conflict with expanding coastal development. The
productivity of stone crabs in Florida Bay is related
to water quality and flow through the Everglades.
Specific water requirements need to be identified
and maintained through comprehensive water
management of the Everglades. A unified program
to integrate and study the combined effects of
environmental alterations, fishing technology
improvements, regulations,  habitat restoration,
122

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and economic factors on shrimp, lobster, and
crab production is needed, particularly in the reef
habitats of South Florida. Steps also need to be
taken to mitigate or restore lost estuarine habitats.

Demersal Fisheries
   Although there is great variation in habitat,
feeding, and reproduction, demersal species are
classified as those that inhabit bottom waters.
Many of the demersal species that exist in the
Northeast U.S.  Continental Shelf LME migrate
to the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME,
although their preference for colder waters
limits their southern expansion mostly to North
Carolina. Within the Southeast U.S. Continental
Shelf LME, the greatest commercial value in the
demersal group is generated within the summer
flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) fishery, which was
the fourth in terms of revenue for this LME. From
2003  to 2006, total ex-vessel revenues from the
commercial summer flounder fishery were $29
million for landings of approximately 7,000 metric
tons,  mostly within the state of North Carolina
(Figure 4-27) (NMFS, 2010). This species is also an
important target for recreational fishermen.
   Summer flounder, also known as "fluke," is a
type of flatfish, with a body that is laterally flattened
and both eyes on one side. As flounder larvae
mature into juveniles, their right eye migrates across
the top of their  head to the left. The placement of
the eyes on top  of the head is critical for this fish,
which lies on the ocean floor disguised by sand
and its own coloration, awaiting a passing meal of
fish or crustacean. Summer flounder is harvested
mostly with trawl gear and is managed under a
cooperative FMP (MAFMC, 2011) established by
the New England Fisheries Management Council,
Southern Atlantic Fisheries Management Council,
and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management
Council. Annual total allowable catches are
established, divided amongst commercial (60%)
and recreational (40%)  fishermen. Other provisions
include minimum mesh sizes and size and catch
limits.
Summer flounder are called chameleons of the sea
because of their ability to change colorto match the
bottom on which they are found (courtesy of NOAA
FishWatch).


Coastal  Pelagic  Fisheries
   Coastal pelagic (water column-dwelling) species
in the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME
include king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla),
Spanish mackerel (S. maculatus), dolphinfish
(Coryphaena hippurus), cobia (Rachycentron
canadum), and cero mackerel  (S. regalis). Coastal
pelagic species are generally fast-swimming
predatory fishes that school, feed voraciously, grow
rapidly, mature early, and spawn over an extended
period of several months. Most coastal pelagic
species are highly valued and sought after gamefish.
During 1984—2006, annual commercial landings of
coastal pelagic fish were between 4,200 and 6,400
metric tons, while recreational fishermen landed
between 7,200 and  19,000 metric tons. The value
of commercial landings was highest for the king
and cero mackerel fisheries, which generated nearly
$21 million in revenue from 2003 to 2006, for
landings  around 6,000 metric tons (Figure 4-27)
(NMFS, 2010). Most  pelagic  species are harvested
for the processing market and, therefore, have a low
market value. However, mackerel is harvested for
direct consumption as fillets and steaks.
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   The commercial king mackerel fisheries utilize
troll lines, hand lines, otter trawls, and pound
nets in three major production areas off the coast
of North Carolina, the east coast of Florida, and
the Florida Keys. Recreational fisheries for king
mackerel have been very popular in this LME, with
several tournaments targeting these fish since the
1960s. The Atlantic king mackerel stock is thought
to be at or near its maximum sustainable yield,
although overfishing is not occurring for either king
or Spanish mackerel. Because the Southeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME and  Gulf of Mexico LME
king mackerel stocks overlap during the winter
months in the southeast Florida and the Florida
Keys region, allowing considerable mixing, they
are managed under a joint FMP (SAFMC, 201 la)
coordinated by the South Atlantic and Gulf of
Mexico Management councils. The plan includes
provisions for the commercial fishery, such as total
allowable catch, seasonal closures, and size and
trip limits, and for the recreational fishery, with
possession and size limits.
Fishery Trends and Summary
   Catches of blue crab have demonstrably dwarfed
the other top commercial species in the Southeast
U.S. Continental Shelf LME since 1950 (Figure
4-28). Nevertheless, landings from this fishery
have decreased by nearly 20,000 metric tons
since peaking at nearly 40,000 metric tons in the
mid-1990s. Since 1950, catches in the king and
cero mackerel fishery rose only slightly, up to
approximately 1,700 metric tons in 2006. Data
for the summer flounder and white and brown
shrimp fisheries were not available prior to the late
1970s. Landings in all three of these fisheries have
remained well below 10,000 metric tons since then.
Despite annual fluctuations, white shrimp landings
remain above 5,000 metric tons. Recent brown
shrimp and summer flounder catches have been
about 3,000 metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
                     40,000
                     30,000
                .
                8 S,
                     20,000
                n
                     1 0,000
                          1950
                                                                                 2000
                                           Blue Crab
                                           Summer Flounder
                                                   White Shrimp   — Brown Shrimp
                                                   King and Cero Mackerel
             Figure 4-28. Landings of top commercial fisheries in the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME from 1950 to 2006,
             metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
     124

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   The Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME top
commercial fisheries are dominated by blue crab,
white and brown shrimp, summer flounder, and
king and cero mackerel due to their high ex-vessel
revenues, even though other fisheries may have
been important in the past. Also, pelagic (king
mackerel, cobia, dolphinfish) and highly migratory
(swordfish, yellowfin and bluefin tuna, white and
blue marlin, and sailfish) species comprise the
majority of recreational fisheries. Interestingly,
other species, especially pelagics, may actually have
greater associated landings in terms of metric tons,
but yield lower revenues than the species mentioned
above because of lower market prices.
   Although these commercial and recreational
fisheries are important ecosystem services because
they provide food, all species have important
roles in their ecosystems. For example, filter
feeders such as clams, oysters, and scallops are
not as highly prized as the recreational and
commercial species above; however, they do
provide a valuable service by filtering nearshore
waters, which improves water quality. Smaller
pelagic fish species and invertebrates are prey
for larger demersal species, which themselves are
prey for marine mammals, birds, and larger fish.
As in other LMEs, commercial and recreational
fisheries support related  industries such as boat
building, fuel for vessels, fishing gear and nets, ship
repair and maintenance, tourism, bait and tackle
shops, recreational boating and much more, all
contributing significantly to the value derived from
the ecosystem service of fishery production.

Advisory Data

Fish Consumption Advisories
   Eleven fish consumption advisories were active
in the coastal waters of the Southeast Coast region
in 2006 (Figure 4-29). All four coastal states of
this region—North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, and Florida—had statewide advisories
covering all coastal waters to warn citizens against
consuming large quantities of king mackerel
because of potential mercury contamination.
Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina also
had statewide advisories for other species of fish.
Because of these statewide advisories, 100% of
the total coastline miles of the Southeast Coast
region were under advisory in 2006. Most (82%)
fish consumption advisories for the Southeast
Coast region were issued, at least in part, because
of mercury contamination (Figure 4-30), with
separate advisories issued for only two other specific
pollutants, PCBs and dioxins. A Florida advisory
also included an unspecified pollutant in 2006.
All of the fish advisories for PCBs covered parts of
Georgia, and the one fish advisory for dioxin was
in North Carolina's Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine
System (U.S. EPA, 2007c). Table 4-1 lists the
species and/or groups under fish consumption
advisory in 2006 for at least some part of the coastal
waters of the Southeast Coast region.
.O
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                         Number of Consumption
                         Advisories per USGS
                         Cataloging Unit in 2006
                          CH  I
                              2-4
                              5-9
                              10+
                              Statewide Coastline and
                              Estuarine Advisory
Figure 4-29. The number offish consumption
advisories in effect in 2006 for the Southeast Coast
coastal waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).

                                                                                                           125

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outheast Coast Coastal Condition
Contaminant
Mercury
PCBs
Dioxin
Not
Specified


|

|
a
a
) 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 1C
Percent of Fish Advisories
o
                 Listed for Each Contaminant

Figure 4-30.  Pollutants responsible for fish
consumption advisories in Southeast Coast coastal
waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
Note: An advisory can be issued for more than one
contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than 100
Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
Southeast Coast between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 4-2 presents the number of total and
monitored beaches, as well as the number and
percentage of monitored beaches affected by
notification actions from 2004 to 2008 for the
Southeast Coast region (i.e., North and South
Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Florida's coastal
beaches). Between 2004 and 2005, the number
of monitored beaches dropped slightly and the
percentage of beaches with notification actions
increased by 2%; however, the total number of
beaches decreased dramatically, only to increase
again the 2006. Between 2006 and 2008, the
total number of beaches dropped significantly
again, although the numbers of monitored
beaches and those affected by notifications
remained largely constant (U.S. EPA, 2009d).
Annual national and state summaries  are available
on EPA's Beaches Monitoring site:
http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/seasons/.
Table 4-1. Species and/or Groups under Fish Consumption Advisory in 2006 for at Least Some
Part of the Coastal Waters of the Southeast Coast Region
Albacore tuna
Almaco jack
Atlantic croaker
Atlantic spadefish
Atlantic stingray
Atlantic thread herring
Banded rudderfish
Barracuda
Black drum
Black grouper
Blackfin tuna
Blue marlin
Bluefish
Bluntnose stingray
Bonefish
Bowfin
Carp
Catfish
Clam
Cobia
Crab-blue
Crab-dungeness
Crevalle jack
Croaker
Dolphin
Fantail mullet
Florida pompano
Flounder
Gafftopsail catfish
Gag grouper
Gray snapper
Greater amberjack
Grouper
Gulf flounder
Halibut
Hardhead catfish
Herring
Hogfish
Jacksmelt
King mackerel
Ladyfish
Lane snapper
Largemouth bass
Little tunny
Lobster
Lookdown
Mussels
Mutton snapper
Orange roughy
Oysters
Pacific cod
Perch
Pigfish
Pinfish
Pollock
Pompano
Puffer
(U.S.EPA,2007c)
Red drum
Red grouper
Red snapper
Salmon
Sand seatrout
Scallops
Scamp
Shark
Sheepshead
Shrimp
Silver perch
Skipjack tuna
Snook
Snowy grouper
Southern flounder
Southern kingfish
Spanish mackerel
Spot
Spotted seatrout

Striped mojarra
Striped mullet
Swordfish
Tarpon
Tilefish
Tripletail
Tuna
Vermillion snapper
Wahoo
Weakfish
White grunt
White mullet
Whitefish
Yellowedge grouper
Yellowfin tuna
Yellowtail snapper



     126

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                                                                                                                  ,
 a Data from Florida are not included for 2004 and 2005 because the state did not differentiate between Southeast and Gulf
   Coast beaches within their state summaries for these years.
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Table 4-2. Beach Notification Actions, Southeast Coast, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d) •
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches

Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004a
582

302
31
10%

2005a
310

297
36
12%

2006
806

416
54
13%

2007
533

416
53
13%

2008
530

413
54
13%

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What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 4-3 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored Southeast Coast beaches affected
by various pollution sources for 2007- The most
frequent reasons for beach advisories were storm-
related runoff, which impacted almost 60% of
the monitored beaches, and wildlife, affecting
over 40% of the beaches. Although boat discharge
contributed to advisories at 10% of the monitored
beaches, unidentified and unknown pollution
sources together affected  over 35% of beaches.
Other reasons, including septic and sewer systems
(leaks, overflows, and breaks), other runoff, and
treatment works together affected less than 10% of
Southeast Coast beaches  (U.S. EPA, 2009d).

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   In 2007, nearly 60% of beach notifications in
the Southeast lasted either 1 day (37%) or 2 days
(21%). Another 30% of the notifications lasted
from 3 to 7 days, and  10% were of the 8- to 30-
day duration. The remaining 2% was attributed to
notifications of over 30 days (U.S. EPA, 2009d).
For more information on state beach closures  and
advisories, please visit the EPA's Beaches Web  site:
http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
index.cfm.
Table 4-3. Reasons for Beach Advisories,
Southeast Coast, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Reason for

Storm-related
runoff
Wildlife
No known
pollution
sources
Other and/
or unidentified
sources
Boat discharge
Sanitary/
combined sewer
overflow
Non-storm
related runoff
Septic system
leakage
Publicly owned
treatment works
Sewer line leak
or break
Total Number
of Monitored
   Beaches
  Affected
     186

     137
     63
     51
     31
Percent of Total
  Monitored
   Beaches
   Affected
     58%

     42%
     20%
     16%
     10%
     2%
                     2%

                     1%

                     1%
Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple pollution
sources.
                                                                                                            127

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Summary
       Based on data from the NCA, the overall condition of the coastal waters of the
     Southeast Coast region is rated fair. The NCA monitoring conducted by coastal states
     from 2003 to 2006 showed that the Southeast Coast region sediment quality index is
     rated fair to poor, the water quality and coastal habitat indices are rated fair, and the
     benthic and fish tissue indices are rated good. The 7 years of accumulated EMAP-NCA
     monitoring data, collected from 2000-2006, have provided an ideal opportunity to
     investigate temporal changes in ecological condition assessment indicators. Although
     there were no significant trends in water quality, sediment quality, or benthic condition
     in the Southeast Coast estuaries from 2000—2006, increasing population growth in this
     region could contribute to increased susceptibility for water quality degradation in the
     future.
       In 2004, NOAA and EPA assessed the status of ecological condition throughout
     coastal ocean waters of the South Atlantic Bight. The analysis found no indications
     of poor sediment or water quality, and no non-indigenous species were found in any
     of the coastal ocean benthic samples. These results suggest that coastal ocean waters
     and sediments of the South Atlantic Bight are in good condition. There was a slight
     indication of human-health risks based on mercury levels in fish tissues; however, none
     of the sites were rated poor for the fish tissue contaminants index based on the NCA
     cutpoints.  Future monitoring efforts should include additional indicators of other types
     of disturbance, such as commercial bottom trawling, cable placement, and minerals
     extraction, which may pose greater risks to living resources and which have not been
     adequately studied.
       The Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME coastal area supports diverse aquatic
     organisms  and complex food webs. From 2003 to 2006, the fisheries in this LME
     generated $577 million  in total ex-vessel revenues, and top commercial fisheries are
     dominated by blue crab, white and brown shrimp, summer flounder, and king and cero
     mackerel. Landings of blue crab have dwarfed the other top commercial species in the
     Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME since 1950. With landings of one-quarter of the
     weight of those of blue crab, the white shrimp fisheries generated three-quarters of the
     crab fishery revenues. The summer flounder fishery was the fourth in terms of revenue
     for this LME, with total ex-vessel revenues from the commercial summer flounder fishery
     were $29 million from 2003 to 2006. During 1984-2006, annual commercial landings
     of coastal pelagic fish were between 4,200 and 6,400 metric tons, while recreational
     fishermen landed between 7,200 and 19,000 metric tons.
       Contamination in Southeast Coast coastal waters has affected human uses  of
     these waters. In 2006, 100% of the Southeast Coast shoreline miles were under fish
     consumption advisories. Most fish advisories were issued, at least in part because of
     mercury contamination. In addition, 13% of the region's monitored beaches were closed
     or under advisory for some period of time during 2006. Elevated bacteria levels in the
     region's coastal waters were primarily responsible for the beach closures and advisories.
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CHAFF
     st Coastal Condition
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O
                       Gulf  Coast  Coastal  Condition
   As shown in Figure 5-1, the overall condition of
the coastal waters of the Gulf Coast region is rated
fair, with an overall condition score of 2.4. The
water quality index for the region's coastal waters
is rated fair; the benthic index is rated fair to poor;
the sediment quality and coastal habitat indices are
rated poor; and the fish tissue contaminants index
is rated good. Figure 5-2 provides a summary of the
percentage of the region's coastal area rated good,
fair, poor, or missing for each index and component
indicator. This assessment is based on  environmental
stressor and response data collected by the states of
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas
from 879 locations, ranging from Florida Bay, FL,
to Laguna Madre, TX, from 2003 to 2006. The
hurricanes of 2005  (Katrina and Rita) significantly
affected the data collected; Alabama, Mississippi, and
Louisiana did not collect data in 2005 (except for
water quality indicators in Mississippi).
                                Overall Condition
                                 Gulf Coast (2.4)
                                Water Quality Index (3)

                                Sediment Quality Index (I)

                                Benthic Index (2)

                                Coastal Habitat Index (I)
I                                Fish Tissue Contaminants
                                Index (5)
             Figure 5-1. The overall condition of Gulf Coast coastal
             waters is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                        Please refer to Chapter I for
                        information about how these
                        assessments were made, the outpoints
                        used to develop the rating for each
                        index and component indicator, and the
                        limitations of the  available data.
   Water Quality Index

         Nitrogen (DIN)

       Phosphorus(DIP)

          Chlorophyll a

          Water Clarity

       Dissolved Oxygen

 Sediment Quality Index

       Sediment Toxicity

   Sediment Contaminants

Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

         Benthic Index
                                                                              Fish Tissue
                                                                      Contaminants Index
                                                                                            20     40     60     80    100
                                                                                              Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                       Missing
                                                      Figure 5-2.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                      ranking for all indices and component indicators—Gulf
                                                      Coast region (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                         The Gulf Coast coastal area comprises more than
                                                      750 estuaries, bays, and sub-estuary systems that
                                                      are associated with larger estuaries. The total area
                                                      of the Gulf Coast estuaries, bays, and sub-estuaries
                                                      is 10,538 square miles. Gulf Coast estuaries and
                                                      wetlands provide critical feeding, spawning, and
                                                      nursery habitat for a rich assemblage of fish and
                                                      wildlife, including essential habitat for shorebirds,
                                                      colonial nesting birds, and migratory waterfowl.
                                                      The Gulf Coast is also home to an incredible
                                                      array of indigenous flora and fauna, including
                                                      endangered or threatened species such as the
                                                      Kemp's ridley sea turtle, Gulf sturgeon, Perdido
                                                      Key beach mouse, West Indian manatee, telephus
                                                      spurge, and piping plover. This region's coastal
                                                      waters  also support vegetated habitats that stabilize
                                                      shorelines from erosion, reduce nonpoint-source
                                                      loadings, and improve water clarity.
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                                                                                                                    ,
           Uses of the National Coastal Condition Reports
           This report is designed to help us understand the questions,"What is the condition of the nation's
           coastal waters, is that condition getting better or worse, and how do different regions compare?"
           This report, however, cannot represent all individual coastal and estuarine systems of the United
           States and is based on a limited number of ecological indices and component indicators for which
           nationally consistent data sets are available to support estimates of ecological condition. The
           assessments provided in this report, and more importantly, the underlying data used to develop
           the assessments, can provide a picture of historical coastal conditions at state, regional, or national
           scales. For example, the National Coastal Assessment (NCA) data have been used to provide insight
           into the conditions  in the estuaries of Louisiana and Mississippi prior to Hurricane Katrina. These
           data may also be used to help us understand conditions in Gulf of Mexico estuaries prior to the
           Deepwater Horizon incident and subsequent BP Oil Spill. However, the methodology and data used
           in this report were  not designed to asses impacts directly related to the BP Oil Spill. This report
           does not include, for example, indicators such as water chemistry, oil-related contaminants (i.e., oil,
           grease, alkylated PAHs, or volatile organic compounds), dispersant compounds, or other indicators of
           exposure that might be required in an environmental assessment. Any comparisons to environmental
           data collected to assess the impact of the BP Oil Spill on Gulf of Mexico estuaries should be limited
           to the indicators and methods presented in this report and  to broad generalizations about coastal
           condition at state, regional, or national scales.

                                                                                                                     8.
                                                                                                                    .1
   Gulf Coast coastal waters are located in two
biogeographical provinces: the Louisianian Province
and the West Indian Province. The Louisianian
Province extends from the Texas—Mexico border
east to Anclote Key, FL. The West Indian Province
extends from Tampa Bay,  FL, on the Gulf Coast to
the Indian River Lagoon,  FL, on the Atlantic Coast;
the portion of this province included in the Gulf
Coast region extends from Tampa Bay to Florida
Bay. The borders of the Gulf Coast region roughly
coincide with the borders  of the Gulf of Mexico
LME.
   The Gulf Coast is home to approximately 13%
of the nation's coastal residents. Between 1980 and
2006, the population of coastal counties in the  Gulf
Coast region increased by 53% from 10.7 million
to 16.3 million people (Figure 5-3). Population
density also increased by 53% from 158 to 241
persons/square mile. Figure 5-4 presents population
density data for Gulf Coast coastal counties in 2006
(NOEP, 2010).
   20,000
1
a
3  15,000
o
§
c
«  10,000-
"5
a.
£
$   5,000
8
0
u
                                               2008
  Figure 5-3. Population of coastal counties in Gulf Coast
  states from 1980 to 2008 (NOER 2010).

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Population Density by County
(people/square mile) 2006
 CH  Less than 270
     270 to less than 712
 CH  712-1,407
 •  More than  1,407
             Figure 5-4. Population density in coastal counties in Gulf Coast states in 2006 (NOEP, 2010; U.S. Census Bureau,
             2010).
                       The NCA monitoring data used
                       in this assessment are based on
                       single-day measurements collected at
                       sites throughout the U.S. coastal waters
                       (excluding the Great Lakes) during a
                       9- to 12-week period during the
                       summer. Data were not collected
                       during other time periods.
             Coastal Monitoring Data—
             Status of Coastal Condition
               A variety of programs have monitored the coastal
             waters of the Gulf Coast region since 1991- EMAP
             focused its coastal monitoring efforts on Gulf Coast
             coastal waters from 1991 to 1995 (Macauley et
             al., 1999; U.S. EPA, 1999). The Joint Gulf States
             Comprehensive Monitoring Program (GMP) began
             an assessment in 2000, in conjunction with EPA's
             Coastal 2000 Program (U.S. EPA, 2000). This
             partnership has continued as part of the NCA,
             with coastal monitoring being conducted by the
             five  Gulf Coast states through 2006. In addition,
             NOAA's NS&T Program has collected contaminant
             bioavailability and sediment toxicity data from
             several Gulf Coast sites since the late  1980s (Long
    et al., 1996). Data from the NS&T Program
    Bioeffects Project are available at http://ccma.nos.
    noaa.gov/about/coast/nsandt/download.aspx.
       E Water Quality Index
       Based on the 2003 to 2006 NCA survey results,
    the water quality index for the coastal waters of
    the Gulf Coast region is rated fair, with 10% of
    the coastal area rated poor and 53% of the area
    rated fair for water quality condition (Figure 5-5).
    The water quality index was developed based
    on measurements of five component indicators:
    DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,  water clarity, and
    dissolved oxygen. Estuaries with poor water
    quality conditions were found in all five states.
    Poor water clarity, high DIP concentrations,  and
    high chlorophyll a concentrations contributed
    to poor water quality ratings. Only three sites in
    Louisiana had high concentrations of both DIN
    and DIP. Poor or fair conditions for the component
    indicators did not necessarily co-occur at the same
    station, resulting in a lower percentage of Gulf
    Coast coastal area rated good for the water quality
    index than for any of its component indicators
    (see Chapter 1 for more information). This water
    quality index can be compared to the results  of
    NOAA's Estuarine Eutrophication Survey (Bricker
     132

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                                                                                                                    ,
 Gulf Coast Water Quality Index
                                                                Missing
                                                            Poor  7%
                                                             10%
Site Criteria: Number of component
indicators in poor or fair condition.
                        • Good = No more than I is fair
                        O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or more are fair
                        • Poor = 2 or more are poor
                        O Missing

                                                                                                                     8.
                                                                                                                    .1
 Figure 5-5. Water quality index data for Gulf Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
et al., 1999), which rated the Gulf Coast as poor
for eutrophic condition, with an estimated 38%
of the coastal area having a high expression of
eutrophication.

Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
  The Gulf Coast region is rated good for
DIN concentrations, but rated fair for DIP
concentrations. It should be noted that different
criteria for DIN and DIP concentrations were
applied in Florida Bay than in other areas of the
Gulf Coast region because Florida Bay is considered
a tropical estuary. DIN  concentrations were
rated poor in 1% of the Gulf Coast coastal area,
representing several sites in Louisiana and Texas,
primarily from 2003 and 2004. Elevated DIN
concentrations are not expected to occur during the
summer in Gulf Coast waters because freshwater
input is usually lower and dissolved nutrients are
used more  rapidly by phytoplankton during this
season. DIP concentrations are rated poor in 14%
of the Gulf Coast coastal area, which included
sites in Tampa Bay and  Charlotte Harbor, FL,
where high DIP concentrations occur naturally
due to geological formations of phosphate rock in
the watersheds and artificially due to significant
anthropogenic sources of DIP.
                                 .
                                          Potential for Misinterpretation
                                          of Conditions for States with
                                          Smaller Coastlines
                                          Alabama and Mississippi resource
                                          agencies are concerned that the figures
                                          presented in the Coastal Monitoring
                                          Data section of this chapter could
                                          potentially represent their estuaries
                                          unfairly. Both states have at least 50
                                          locations that were sampled each
                                          year in the NCA 2003-2006 survey;
                                          however, because of the high density
                                          of these sites and the small area of
                                          estuarine resources of these states,
                                          even one or two sites rated poor  (red
                                          circles) give the appearance of poor
                                          condition dominating a large portion
                                          of the entire coast of these states.
                                          Although showing the entire Gulf Coast
                                          region in a single graphic is consistent
                                          with the goals of this report, these
                                          displays do not provide a detailed view
                                          of all data, particularly for Alabama,
                                          Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana.
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Chlorophyll a
   The Gulf Coast region is rated fair for
chlorophyll (2 concentrations because more of the
coastal area is rated fair and poor, combined, than
is rated good for this component indicator. It
should be noted that chlorophyll a concentrations
were rated differently in Florida Bay than in
other areas of the region because Florida Bay is
considered a tropical estuary. High concentrations
of chlorophyll a occurred in the coastal areas of all
five Gulf Coast states.

Water Clarity
   Water clarity in the Gulf Coast region is rated
fair, with 21% of the coastal area rated poor for this
component indicator. Lower-than-expected water
clarity occurred throughout the Gulf Coast region,
with poor conditions  observed most frequently in
Texas and Louisiana. The cutpoints used to assign
water clarity ratings varied across Gulf Coast coastal
waters (Figure 5-6) based on natural variations
in turbidity levels, regional expectations for light
penetration related to SAV distribution, and  local
waterbody management goals (see text box).
Although the current NCA approach
used to assess water clarity is an
improvement over the previous
effort, it still may reach inappropriate
conclusions regarding water clarity for
parts of the Gulf Coast region. Many
of the areas of the Gulf Coast region
have naturally high silt and suspended
sediment loads.To modify the water
clarity approach for this natural
condition, researchers adjusted the
approach by decreasing the "expected"
water clarity levels to lower levels
for much of the Gulf Coast region.
Although this adjustment appears
to have been successful for much of
the  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and
Louisiana coasts, further adjustments
may  be necessary for Mississippi  Sound
and the Texas coast.
                                                 Cutpoint Range to Rate a Site Fair
                                                     20%-40% Light Transmissivity at I  m
                                                  • 10%-20% Light Transmissivity at I  m
                                                  • 5%-IO% Light Transmissivity at I m
              Figure 5-6. Map of water clarity cutpoints used in Gulf Coast coastal waters to rate a site fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
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Dissolved Oxygen
   The Gulf Coast region is rated good for dissolved
oxygen concentrations, with less than 5% (4.8%)
of the coastal area rated poor for this component
indicator. Hypoxia in Gulf Coast waters generally
results from stratification, eutrophication, or a
combination of these two conditions. Mobile Bay,
AL, experiences regular hypoxic events during
the summer that  often culminate in "jubilees"
(i.e., when fish and crabs try to escape hypoxia by
migrating to the edges of a waterbody); however,
the occurrence of jubilees in Mobile Bay has been
recorded since colonial times, and these occurrences
are most likely natural events for this waterbody
(May, 1973).
   Although hypoxia is a relatively local occurrence
in Gulf Coast estuaries, the occurrence of hypoxia
in the Gulf Coast shelf waters is much more
significant. The Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone is
the second-largest area of oxygen-depleted waters
in the world (Rabalais et al., 2002b). This zone,
which occurs in waters on the Louisiana shelf
to the west of the Mississippi River Delta, was
not assessed by the NCA survey. The area of the
Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone varied from 3,305
square miles in 2003 to 6,670 square  miles in
2006 (Figure 5-7) (LUMCON, 2003, 2006). In
2004 and 2006, the hypoxic zone area was greater
than the long-term average of 5,000 square miles
(LUMCON, 2006). Current hypotheses speculate
that the hypoxic zone results from water column
stratification that is driven by weather and river
flow, as well as  from the decomposition of organic
matter in bottom waters (Rabalais et al., 2002b).
River-borne organic matter, along with nutrients
that fuel phytoplankton growth in the Gulf waters,
enters the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi
River. Annual variability in the area of the hypoxic
zone has been related to the flows  of the Mississippi
and Atchafalaya rivers and, by extension, to the
precipitation levels that influence these flows.
Sediment cores from the hypoxic zone show that
algal production in the Gulf of Mexico shelf was
significantly lower during the first half of the
twentieth century, suggesting that anthropogenic
changes to the basin and its discharges have resulted
in the increased hypoxia (CENR, 2000). Estimates
of hypoxia for the Gulf of Mexico shelf have not
been included in  the NCA estimates of hypoxia for
Gulf Coast estuaries; consequently,  the good rating
for dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Gulf
Coast region provided in this report should not be
considered indicative of offshore conditions.
             Bottom-Water Hypoxia July 23-28, 2003
 30 - Sabine
    -94  -93.5  -93   -92.5  -92  -91.5  -91   -90.5  -90  -89.5  -89
             Bottom-Water Hypoxia July 2 1-25, 2004
    -94  -93.5  -93  -92.5  -92  -91.5  -91   -90.5   -90  -89.5
             Bottom-Water Hypoxia July 24-29,2005
 30 - Sabine
      | Dissolved Oxygen
       <2.0(mg/L)
    -94  -93.5  -93   -92.5  -92  -91.5  -91   -90.5  -90  -89.5  -89
Figure 5-7.  Spatial extent of the Gulf Coast hypoxic
zone during July, 2003-2005 (U.S. EPA/NCA, based on
data provided by NOAA, 201 Oa).

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The outpoint used in the NCA analysis for poor dissolved oxygen condition is a value below
2 mg/L in bottom waters. The majority of coastal states either use a different criterion, ranging
from an average of 4 to 5 mg/L throughout the water column to a specific concentration (usually 4
or 5 mg/L) at mid-water, or include a frequency or duration of time that the low dissolved oxygen
concentration must occur (e.g., 20% of observed values). The NCA chose to use 2 mg/L in bottom
waters because this level is clearly indicative of potential harm to estuarine organisms. Because
so many state agencies use higher concentrations, the NCA evaluated the proportion of waters
that have dissolved oxygen concentrations between 5 and 2 mg/L in bottom waters as being in fair
condition (i.e., threatened).
                   Sediment Quality Index
                The sediment quality index is based on the
             rating scores for the sediment toxicity, sediment
             contaminants, and sediment TOC component
             indicators. In the Gulf Coast, the sediment quality
             index is rated poor because 19% of the coastal area
             was rated poor for at least one of the component
             indicators. However, these conditions rarely co-
             occurred in Gulf Coast sediments  from the same
             sampling station, and the poor rating for the
             sediment quality index resulted primarily from
             the high percentage of coastal area rated poor for
             the sediment toxicity component indicator. Poor
             ratings for the sediment toxicity and sediment
             contaminants component indicators co-occurred
             at only three stations in Florida Bay, which had
             high concentrations of silver. The remaining
             stations with poor ratings for the sediment
             toxicity component indicator did not have high
             concentrations of sediment contaminants. The
             sediment toxicity at these sites may have  been
             caused by naturally high levels of hydrogen sulfide
             (e.g., Florida Bay), high salinity (greater than
             55 practical salinity units [psu]; e.g., Laguna
             Madre), sediment grain-size, or persistent levels of
             contaminants that were not measured by the NCA.
                Sediment toxicity results do not always
             reflect sediment contaminant concentrations
             because toxicity also depends on contaminant
             bioavailability, which is controlled by pH, sediment
             grain-size, and organic content. Although sediment
             contaminant concentrations and sediment toxicity
             tests can be useful screening tools, it is not unusual
                                           to find a lack of correlation between the results of
                                           these component indicators because some toxic
                                           contaminants may not be bioavailable, some
                                           contaminants are not lethal to test organisms, and
                                           not all potentially toxic contaminants are analyzed.
                                           These points underscore the utility of a combined
                                           approach to assess the condition of sediment quality
                                           in coastal waters.
                                             In 2010, the NCCA changed the sediment
                                           toxicity test protocols to conduct estuarine assays
                                           with the amphipod, Leptocheirusplumulosus, instead
                                           of A.  abdita. The advantages of using L. plumulosus
                                           include the organism's tolerance to a wider range
                                           of salinities and sediment grain-size (A. abdita is
                                           sensitive to low salinity [< 10 psu] and to coarse-
                                           grained sediments). The use of L. plumulosus is
                                           hoped to reduce the occurrence of poor ratings for
                                           the sediment toxicity component indicator as a
                                           result of naturally occurring conditions. The NCCA
                                           is also reviewing the current NCA sediment quality
                                           index to determine the best approach to evaluate
                                           the component indicators and the cutpoints used
                                           to rate them. The next report, National Coastal
                                           Condition Report V, will reflect these modifications
                                           to the sediment quality index.

                                           Serf/merit Toxicity
                                             The Gulf Coast region is rated poor for sediment
                                           toxicity, with 15% of the coastal area rated poor
                                           for this component indicator. Previous bioeffects
                                           surveys by NOAA (Long et al., 1996) and the
                                           results reported in the NCCRII (U.S. EPA, 2004b)
                                           showed less than 1 % toxicity in large estuaries
                                           of the Gulf Coast region. Sediment toxicity is
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                                                                                                                 ,
 Gulf Coast Sediment Quality Index

                                                                                                                 8.
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      Benthic Index
   The condition of benthic communities in Gulf
Coast coastal waters is rated fair to poor, with
20% of the coastal area rated poor for benthic
condition (Figure 5-9)- Benthic community
data were not collected (missing) in 25% of the
estuarine area in the Gulf Coast. This was primarily
due to the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita, which prevented Louisiana, Mississippi,
and Alabama from conducting the NCA survey
in 2005-  This rating is borderline, as the criterion
for a poor rating is more than 20% of the coastal
area in poor condition. This assessment is based
on the Gulf Coast Benthic Index (Engle and
Summers, 1999), which integrates measures of
diversity  and populations of indicator species to
distinguish between degraded and  reference benthic
communities. Most Gulf Coast estuaries showed
some level of benthic degradation.
      Coastal Habitat  Index
   The coastal habitat index for the coastal waters of
the Gulf Coast region is rated poor. The Gulf Coast
region experienced a loss of 41,800 acres (1.2%)
of coastal wetlands from 1998 to 2004 (Stedman
and Dahl, 2008), and the long-term, average
decadal wetland loss in  coastal states is  2.4%. This
estimate does not include the substantial losses of
coastal wetlands in the Gulf Coast that occurred as
a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in
2005- In Louisiana alone, Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita impacted more than 64,000 acres  of coastal
forested wetlands and more than 135,000 acres of
coastal marshes (NMFS, 2007b). In Mississippi,
1,890 acres of coastal wetlands were impacted by
Hurricane Katrina, while in Florida, mangrove
wetlands were extensively damaged by Hurricane
Wilma (NMFS, 2007b). Coastal wetlands in the
Gulf Coast region constitute 66%  of the total
coastal wetland acreage in the  conterminous 48
states (Dahl, 2003). Although the  Gulf Coast
region sustained the largest net loss of coastal
              Gulf Coast Benthic Index
                                            Site Criteria: Gulf Coast
                                            Benthic Index Score.
                                            • Good = > 5.0
                                            O Fair  = 3.0-5.0
                                            • Poor = < 3.0
                                            O Missing
             Figure 5-9. Benthic index data for Gulf Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     138

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wetland acreage during the past decade compared
with other regions of the country, the region also
had the greatest total acreage of coastal wetlands in
2004 (3,508,600 acres). Coastal development and
interference with normal erosional/depositional
processes contributes to wetland losses along the
Gulf Coast; however, significant losses also result
from climatic changes that affect sea-level rise,
subsidence, and the frequency and severity of
hurricanes.
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for the coastal
waters of the Gulf Coast region is rated good,
with 9% of all sites where fish were sampled rated
poor for fish tissue contaminant concentrations
(Figure 5-10). Contaminant concentrations
exceeding EPA advisory guidance values in Gulf
Coast samples were observed primarily in Atlantic
croaker and hardhead catfish. Commonly observed
contaminants included total PAHs, PCBs, DDT,
mercury, and arsenic. Although many of the
Gulf Coast estuarine and coastal areas do have
fish consumption advisories in effect, that advice
primarily concerns recreational game fish such as
king mackerel, which are not sampled by the NCA
program.

Trends of Coastal Monitoring
Data—Gulf Coast Region

Temporal Change in  Ecological
Condition
   EMAP/NCA initiated annual surveys of coastal
condition in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000, and these
data were reported in the NCCRII. Data from
2001 and 2002 were assessed in the NCCR III,  and
data from 2003—2006 are assessed in this current
report (NCCR IV). Seven years of monitoring
data from Gulf Coast coastal waters provide an
ideal opportunity to investigate temporal changes
in ecological condition indices and component
indicators. These data can be analyzed to answer
two basic types of trend questions based on
assessments of ecological indicators in Gulf Coast
coastal waters: what is the interannual variability

.1
 Gulf Coast Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
                     Site Criteria: EPA guidance concentration
                      • Good = Below guidance range
                      O Fair = Falls within guidance range
                      • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
Figure S-10. Fish tissue contaminants index data for Gulf Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                       139

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in proportions of area rated good, fair, or poor,
and has there been a significant change in the
proportion of poor area from 2000 to 2006?
   With the exception of the fish tissue
contaminants index, all of the condition indices
and component indicators can be compared over
time (2000—2006) because data supporting these
parameters were collected using similar protocols
and QA/QC methods. NCA implemented
probability-based surveys that support estimations
of the percent of coastal area in good, fair, or poor
condition based on the indices and component
indicators. Standard errors for these estimates
were calculated according to methods listed on
the EMAP Aquatic Resource Monitoring Web site
(http://www.epa.gov/nheerl/arm). The cutpoints
listed in Chapter 1 were used to determine
good, fair, or poor condition for each index and
component indicators. Interannual variation was
evaluated by comparing annual estimates of percent
area in poor condition for each indicator and the
associated standard error. A 2-year survey design
was implemented for 2005—2006; therefore, this
was treated as a single "year." Trends in  the percent
area in poor condition for each indicator were
evaluated using the Mann-Kendall test.
   Neither the water quality index nor any of its
component indicators showed a significant linear
trend over time in the percent area rated in poor
condition (Figures 5-11 through 5-16). The percent
area in poor condition for the water quality index
increased from 2000 to 2004 and then  decreased
(Figure 5-11), although there were no statistically
significant differences  between any of the years.
The change in percent area in poor condition for
DIP, chlorophyll a, and dissolved oxygen showed
a similar pattern (Figures 5-13, 5-14, 5-16). The
percent area with poor DIN ratings did not change
over time (Figure 5-12), while there was a slight,
but not statistically significant, decrease in the
percent area with poor water clarity over time
(Figure 5-15).
                                                                    100
80
                                                                    60
                                                                    40
                                                                    20
                                                                                                       y
                                         •  Good
                                         D  Fair
                                         •  Poor
                                         D  Missing
                                                                        2000   2001
                                                                                    2002   2003
                                                                                        Year
                                                                                                 2004  2005-06
                                                                   Figure 5-11. Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
                                                                   in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for the water
                                                                   quality index measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. ERA/
                                                                   NCA).
                                                                   100
                                                                    80
                                                                    60
                                                                    40
                                                                    20
                                                                                                             •  Good
                                                                                                             •  Fair
                                                                                                             •  Poor
                                                                                                             D  Missing
                                                                        2000   2001
                                                                                    2002  2003
                                                                                        Year
                                                                                                2004  2005-06
                                                                   Figure 5-12.  Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal
                                                                   waters in good, fair, poor; or missing categories for DIN
                                                                   measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     140

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100
 80 -
 60 -
 40 -
 20 -




-

-


200C













—





2001














	




2002









Yea






~


2003
r












-
-





2004









2









305-06
                                             •  Good
                                             •  Fair
                                             •  Poor
                                             D  Missing
                                                                                                                          ,
                                                          100
                                                           80
                                                           60
                                                           40
                                                           20
                                             •  Good
                                             •  Fair
                                             •  Poor
                                             D  Missing
                                                              2000   2001
                                                                            2002   2003
                                                                               Year
                                                                                         2004  2005-06

                                                                                                                           8.
                                                                 .1
Figure 5-1 3. Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal
waters in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for DIP
measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Figure 5-14.  Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for chlorophyll a
measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
100
 80 -
 60 -
 40 '
 20 -





-


200C















	

2001









-



-
-


2002








Yea






	

2003
r













	



2004








2








305-








06
• Good
D Fair
• Poor
D Missing






                                                          100
                                                           80
                                                           60
                                                           40
                                                           20
                                                                                                       D Good
                                                                                                       • Fair
                                                                                                       • Poor
                                                                                                       D Missing
                                                               2000  2001
                                                                            2002  2003
                                                                               Year
                                                                                         2004  2005-06
Figure 5-15.  Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for water clarity
measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Figure 5-16. Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
in good, fair, poor; or missing categories for bottom-
water dissolved oxygen measured from 2000-2006
(U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                                   141

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   The sediment quality index and its component
indicators (i.e., sediment toxicity, sediment
contaminants, and sediment TOC) were compared
over time. Only the percent area with poor ratings
for the sediment toxicity component indicator
showed a significant positive trend from 2000—
2006 (p < 0.10; Figure 5-18). Although there were
no statistically significant differences in the percent
area rated poor for sediment contaminants, TOC,
or the sediment quality index from 2000—2002
(Figures 5-17 through 5-20), the percent area rated
poor for the sediment contaminants component
indicator decreased from 13% in 2000 to 0% in
2004-2006 (Figure 5-19).
                                                                    100
so
                                                                     60
                                                                     40
                                                                     20
                                          • Good
                                          • Fair
                                          • Poor
                                          D Missing
                                                                         2000  2001    2002   2003   2004  2005-06
                                                                                         Year
100
              80
              60
              40
              20
                                           • Good
                                           • Fair
                                           • Poor
                                           D Missing
                  2000   2001
                               2002   2003
                                  Year
                                           2004  2005-06
             Figure 5-17. Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
             in good, poor; or missing categories for the sediment
             quality index measured from 2000-2006  (U.S. ERA/
             NCA).
                                                                    Figure S-18.  Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
                                                                    in good, poor; or missing categories for sediment toxicity
                                                                    measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                    100
                                                                     80
                                                                     60
                                                                     40
                                                                     20
                                                                                                               • Good
                                                                                                               • Fair
                                                                                                               • Poor
                                                                                                               D Missing
                                                                         2000  2001
                                                                                      2002   2003
                                                                                         Year
                                                                                                  2004  2005-06
                                                                    Figure 5-19.  Percent area of Gulf Coast coastal waters
                                                                    in good, fair; poor; or missing categories for sediment
                                                                    contaminants measured from 2000-2006 (U.S. EPA/
                                                                    NCA).
     142

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 100
  80
g 60
c
D
E

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Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Gulf of Mexico
LME
   The Gulf of Mexico LME extends from the
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, to the Straits of Florida,
and is bordered by the United States and Mexico
(Figure 5-22). In this LME, intensive fishing is
the primary driving force of biomass change, with
climate as the secondary driving force. The Gulf of
Mexico LME is considered a moderately productive
LME based on global estimates of primary
production (phytoplankton) (NOAA, 2010b). The
LME is partially isolated from the Atlantic Ocean,
and the portion located beyond the continental
shelf is a semi-enclosed oceanic basin connected
to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatan Channel and
to the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Florida.
Through the narrow, deep Yucatan Channel, a
warm current of water flows northward, penetrating
the Gulf of Mexico LME and looping around or
turning east before leaving the Gulf through the
Straits  of Florida. This current of tropical Caribbean
water is known as the Loop Current, and along
its boundary, numerous eddies, meanders, and
intrusions are produced and affect much of the
hydrography and biology of the Gulf. A high
diversity of fish eggs and larvae are transported in
the Loop Current, which tends to concentrate and
transport early life stages offish toward estuarine
nursery areas, where the young can reside, feed, and
develop to maturity.
   From 2003  to 2006, commercial fisheries in the
Gulf of Mexico LME generated over $2.6 billion
in revenue, dominated by the white and brown
shrimp fisheries, which generated over $677 million
and $650 million during this period, respectively.
The next-highest grossing fishery, the Eastern oyster
(Crassostrea virginica), yielded over $240 million
(NMFS, 2010). The other top-grossing fisheries
include menhaden, blue crab, and pink shrimp.
Most  of the commercial fishery revenue within
this LME is generated by Louisiana and Texas. See
Figure 5-23 for revenues and landings of the top
Gulf of Mexico LME commercial fisheries. As in
other  LMEs, the fisheries are managed through a
                               Conterminous
                               United States
                                                                        |  | Relevant Large
                                                                           Marine Ecosystem
                                                                        I	| Associated U.S. land mass
                           Figure 5-22. The Gulf of Mexico LME (NOAA, 201 Ob).
     144

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combination of federal and state regulatory regimes,
the latter playing an especially large role because
invertebrates tend to occur within state waters.
Recreational fishers target red drum and spotted
seatrout, as well as pelagic (water-column dwelling)
species such as mackerel, dolphinfish, and cobia.

Invertebrate  Fisheries
   In the Gulf of Mexico LME, the most  important
commercial fisheries are invertebrates (shrimp,
oysters, and crab), which represent five of the six
top-grossing fisheries. Shrimp fisheries in  this LME
are some of the most valuable U.S. fisheries based
on ex-vessel revenues (pre-processing value) and
are fished using a twin-trawl system that allows
the towing of four trawls simultaneously.  Brown,
white,  and pink shrimp account for over 99%
                                                   of the total Gulf of Mexico LME shrimp catch.
                                                   In 2006 alone, these three important species
                                                   produced approximately 129 metric tons valued
                                                   at more than $388 million in ex-vessel revenues.
                                                   They are typically found in all U.S. Gulf of Mexico
                                                   LME waters shallower than 395 feet. Most of the
                                                   offshore brown shrimp catch is taken at 130- to
                                                   260-foot depths; white shrimp are caught in
                                                   waters 66 feet deep or less; and pink shrimp in
                                                   waters of 130—200 feet. Brown shrimp are most
                                                   abundant off the Texas—Louisiana coast, and the
                                                   greatest concentration of pink shrimp is in waters
                                                   off southwestern Florida. Between 2004 and 2006,
                                                   the average annual yield for brown shrimp (53,500
                                                   metric tons), pink shrimp (6,500 metric tons),
                                                   and white shrimp (52,000 metric tons) was below
                                                   maximum sustainable yield levels (NMFS, 2009b).

                                  .1
     2,000,000

     1,800,000

     1,600,000

     1,400,000
      1,200,000
   u
£. i ,000,000
Si
|  800,000
2
    600,000

    400,000

    200,000

         0
                    White
                    Shrimp
                                                                      Landings

                                                                      Value
                                                                                         800
            700
                                                                                         600
            500   |.
                 ID
                 |
            400   f
                 3
                 a.
                 o_
            300   2
                                                                                            200
                                                                                            100
                                                               Blue Crab
 Pink
Shrimp
Figure 5-23. Top commercial fisheries forthe Gulf of Mexico LME: landings (metric tons) and value (million dollars)
from 2003-2006 (NMFS, 2010).
                                                                                                            145

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           Catch levels in 2006 were excellent for brown
        and white shrimp, with white shrimp reaching
        an all time high at approximately 59,500 metric
        tons, while pink shrimp have shown a moderate
        decreasing trend in recent years (Hart and Nance,
        2007)- For each species, the number of young
        shrimp entering the fisheries has generally reflected
        the level of catch, with harvesting occurring at
        maximum levels. The number of young brown
        shrimp produced per parent increased significantly
        until about 1991—most likely in relation to marsh
        habitat alterations—and has remained near or
        slightly below that level during most years.
           Coastal sinking and sea-level rise in the
        northwestern Gulf of Mexico LME inundate
        intertidal marshes, allowing the shrimp to feed for
        longer periods within the marsh area. Both factors
        have also expanded estuarine areas, created more
        marsh edges, and provided  more protection from
        predators. However, continued coastal sinking will
        lead to marsh deterioration and an ultimate loss of
        supporting wetlands, and current high fishery yields
        may not be indefinitely sustainable.
        Loggerhead turtle escaping a net equipped with turtle
        excluder device (courtesy of NOAA).
   In the Gulf of Mexico LME, harvesting is
regulated under the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council's shrimp FMP (GMFMC,
2011), which restricts shrimping by closing two
shrimping grounds—a seasonal closure of fishing
grounds off Texas for brown shrimp and a closure
off Florida for pink  shrimp. The harvesting of small
shrimp is sacrificing the yield  and value of the
catch by cutting short future population growth
(Caillouet et al., 2008);  therefore, size limits also
exist for white shrimp caught  in federal waters
and landed in Louisiana. Because shrimp are a
short-lived species (with life spans only up to 1.5
years),  they can quickly  benefit from management
practices.
   Until very recently, the shrimp fisheries were
overcapitalized, with more fishing effort being
expended than was needed to sustainably harvest
the resource (Nance et al., 2006). Lower-than-
average ex-vessel prices for shrimp and higher-
than-average fuel prices  over the past few years
have stemmed this trend. As in the Southeast U.S.
Continental Shelf LME, another management
concern is the use by shrimp fisheries of small-mesh
trawl nets that catch non-target species, including
species at low stock  levels; commercially fished
species such as red snappers, croakers, and seatrouts;
and protected resources  such as sea turtles. All sea
turtle species  are listed as endangered or threatened
under the Endangered Species Act, and shrimp
vessels have been required to use turtle-excluder
devices in their nets since 1988  to avoid capturing
sea turtles. The NMFS and the fishing industry
are working together to  continue development  of
bycatch-reduction gear to address the problems
of finfish by-catch in shrimp fisheries of the Gulf
of Mexico and Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf
LMEs.
   The other major  invertebrate fisheries in the
Gulf of Mexico LME  are the blue crab and Eastern
oyster. The Eastern oyster is a mollusk native to the
U.S. eastern seaboard  and the Gulf of Mexico. As a
filter feeder, this oyster provides a critical ecosystem
function by cleaning the water of plankton and
detritus. Oysters build reef-like structures and are
146

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harvested using dredges, which scrape sea bottoms
and haul the specimens into a basket. From 2003
to 2006, the Eastern oyster fishery in the Gulf
of Mexico LME provided over $241 million in
total ex-vessel revenues (see Figure 5-23) (NMFS,
2010). This species is also heavily harvested in
the Chesapeake Bay. Both areas now supplement
natural production by farming oysters, a process
that induces oyster reproduction in controlled
environmental conditions.
   The crab fisheries include blue and stone crab,
which provide differing economic values for Gulf
states. The biology and harvesting specifications for
the blue crab are described within the Southeast
U.S. Continental Shelf LME section (Chapter 4),
where this is the top-grossing fishery and an iconic
species. Although less well known in the Gulf, the
blue crab fishery generated over $165 million in
total ex-vessel revenues from 2003 to 2006 for this
area, providing many of the crabs served on the
East Coast market  (NMFS, 2010).

Menhaden  Fishery
   Menhaden, a herring-like fish, are found in
coastal and estuarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico,
Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, and Northeast
U.S. Continental Shelf LMEs. They form large
schools at the surface, which are located by aircraft
and harvested by purse seines to produce baitfish;
fishmeal; fish oil; flavoring for pet food; protein in
animal feed; and fertilizer. Menhaden are prey for
many fish, marine mammals, and sea birds, and, as
filter feeders, minimize algal blooms, all of which
are important functions within coastal ecosystems.
Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) play a greater
role in U.S. commercial fisheries than their Atlantic
relative, Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus),
generating $ 169 million in total ex-vessel revenues
from 2003 to 2006 within the Gulf (mostly by
Louisiana) (see Figure  5-23) (NMFS, 2010). In
both the Gulf and the Atlantic, menhaden  are
largely harvested by one company, Omega Protein
of Houston, which owns reduction factories along
the Gulf Coast and one in Virginia.
The Gulf menhaden fishery is one of the largest
fisheries, by volume, in the United States (courtesy of
NOAA).

   Gulf menhaden are most abundant in the north-
central portion of the Gulf of Mexico, though they
are present throughout the Gulf. They form large
surface schools that appear in nearshore Gulf waters
from April to November. Although no extensive
coast-wide migrations are known, some evidence
suggests that older fish move toward the Mississippi
River delta. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita did considerable damage to the four Gulf
menhaden reduction factories (which process the
fish into fertilizer, feed stock, and fish oil); two
closed for the remainder of the fishing season after
the storms and faced major difficulties re-opening
in 2006. Because Gulf of Mexico LME  menhaden
have a short life cycle and a high natural mortality,
overfishing has not been a management concern.
Management is coordinated through the Gulf States
Marine Fisheries Commission and consists of an
approximate 28-week fishing season from April
to October. Menhaden in the Atlantic are largely
managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission and the states.
                                                            o
                                                            o
                                                            O
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                                                            O
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Fishery Trends and Summary
   Figure 5-24 shows landings of the menhaden
fishery in the Gulf of Mexico LME since 1950. The
menhaden and the other top fisheries in this LME
are displayed on separate graphs because catches of
menhaden are too large to display on the same scale
as the rest of the Gulf of Mexico fisheries. Landings
in the menhaden fishery increased steadily from
1950, peaked at nearly 1 million metric tons in
the mid-1980s and decreased to present-day levels
of 400,000 metric tons. In addition to changes in
fishing effort, the variations in landings are largely
attributable to altered environmental conditions
that affect recruitment of Gulf menhaden,
including  adverse meteorological events such as
hurricanes. Increased tropical activity also leads to
decreased  fishing effort and, coupled with lower
recruitment level, results in a negative impact on
fishery landings.
   Landings in the invertebrate fisheries, which
generate the largest revenues for the Gulf of Mexico
LME, are  presented in Figure 5-25- Since 1950,
the blue crab landings have steadily increased from
10,000 metric tons to levels of 30,000 metric
tons. Landings in the Eastern oyster fishery have
consistently fluctuated around 10,000 metric tons
over the past five decades. Data for the shrimp
fisheries was not available prior to 1961, and
landings from 1972 to 1977 were reported as
combined totals rather than as separate species.
Nevertheless, with the data that are available, there
is evidence of considerable fluctuation in landings
over the past several decades for all three shrimp
species. During this time, both the white and
brown shrimp fisheries landings have increased to
just over 60,000 metric tons, with catches in the
white shrimp fishery steadily increasing since the
late 1990s. Landings in the brown shrimp fishery
had been decreasing since 2000, though a recent
spike brought catches up to average levels. The pink
shrimp fishery, which yields much lower catches
than the other two shrimp species, decreased from a
peak of 25,000 metric tons in the mid-1960s to less
than 5,000 metric tons in 2006 (NMFS, 2010).
   The Gulf of Mexico LME provides significant
commercial and recreational fisheries opportunities.
The top commercial species are invertebrate
species of white, brown,  and pink shrimp. These
species accounted for over $350 million in 2006
alone. From 2003 to 2006, Eastern oyster catches
                      1,000,000
                   B,   800,000
                       600,000
                       400,000
                       200,000
                                           I960
                                            1970
    1980
1990
2000
                                                                   Year
                                   Menhaden
             Figure 5-24. Commercial landings of menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico LME from 1950 to 2006, metric tons (NMFS,
             2010).
     148

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      80,000

      70,000

I"    60,000

g V  50,000
'§ I
# •£   40,000

1 ~  30,000
          10,000
                             I960
                                       1970
                                   White Shrimp
                                   Blue Crab
    1980
Year
Brown Shrimp
Pink Shrimp
1990
2000
                                                                    Eastern Oyster
Figure 5-25.  Landings of the top commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico LME from  1950 to 2006, metric tons
(NMFS.20IO).

                                                                                                                   .o
provided over $240 million, and blue crab
generated $165 million for commercial fisheries.
The menhaden fishery generated more than $165
million from 2003—2006 from approximately
400,000 metric tons per year (NMFS, 2010).
Interestingly, and unlike most other Gulf fisheries,
the menhaden catch far exceeded its market value.
   In addition to their substantial market value,
commercial fisheries support other related
industries, such as boat construction, fuel for
vessels, fishing gear and nets, shipboard navigation
and electronics, and ship repair and maintenance.
Similarly,  recreational fish such as grouper,
snapper, and amberjack drive an economic
engine that supports tourism, bait and tackle
shops, recreational boating, and much more, all
contributing significantly to the value derived
from the ecosystem service of fishery production.
                                                  This "coastal economy" (Yoskowitz, 2009) of the
                                                  Gulf of Mexico LME provides fish and shellfish
                                                  for food, but that is not the only ecosystem service
                                                  or function it offers. Fish and shellfish are part of
                                                  complex ecosystems that rely on various species
                                                  interactions for the maintenance of necessary
                                                  ecosystem functions. For instance, invertebrates and
                                                  pelagic (water-column dwelling) species provide
                                                  sustenance for larger fish, which themselves are
                                                  prey for marine mammals and seabirds, which can
                                                  also support tourism and coastal development.
                                                  Many functions performed by species in the LME
                                                  also indirectly benefit humans, such as water
                                                  purification by bivalves such as scallops, clams, and
                                                  oysters that filter the water constantly while feeding,
                                                  helping to clean the water of algae, detritus, and
                                                  toxics, which  results in a more enjoyable beach or
                                                  boating experience for humans.
                                                                                                            149

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        Advisory Data
        Fish Consumption Advisories
           In 2006, 11 fish consumption advisories were
        in effect for the estuarine and marine waters of the
        Gulf Coast region. Most of the advisories (9) were
        issued for mercury, and each of the five Gulf Coast
        states had one statewide coastal advisory in effect
        for mercury levels in king mackerel. The statewide
        king mackerel advisories covered all coastal and
        estuarine waters in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana,
        and Alabama, but covered only the coastal shoreline
        waters in Texas. As a result of the statewide
        advisories, 100% of the coastal miles of the Gulf
        Coast and 76% of the estuarine square miles were
        under advisory in 2006 (Figure 5-26) (U.S. EPA,
        2007c). Table 5-1 lists the species and/or groups
        under fish consumption advisory in 2006 for at
        least some part of the coastal waters of the Gulf
        Coast region.
Wahoo (Acanthocybium so/andri) is one of the species
covered by a consumption advisory in some portion of
Gulf Coast waters (courtesy of NOAA).
                                                           Number of Consumption
                                                           Advisories per USGS
                                                           Cataloging Unit in 2006
                                                           CH  I
                                                           •  2-4
                                                                5-9
                                                           •  10+
                                                           ^™  Statewide Coastline and/or
                                                                Estuarine Advisory

        Figure 5-26. The number offish consumption advisories active in 2006 for the Gulf Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA,
        2007c).
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Table 5- 1 . Species and/or Groups under Fish Consumption Advisory in 2006 for at Least
Some Part of the Coastal Waters of the Gulf Coast Region (U.S. EPA, 2007c)
Almaco jack
Atlantic croaker
Atlantic spadefish
Atlantic stingray
Atlantic thread herring
Barracuda
Black drum
Black grouper
Blackfin tuna
Blue crab
Bluefish
Bluntnose stingray

Bonefish
Catfish
Cobia
Crab
Crevalle jack
Dolphin
Fantail mullet
Florida pompano
Gafftopsail catfish
Gag grouper
Gray snapper
Greater amberjack
Gulf flounder
Hardhead catfish
Hogfish
Lane snapper
King mackerel
Ladyfish
Little tunny
Lookdown
Mutton snapper
Oysters
Pigfish
Pinfish
Red drum
Red grouper
Red snapper
Sand seatrout
Scamp
Shark
Sheepshead
Silver perch
Skipjack tuna
Common snook
Snowy grouper
Southern flounder
Southern kingfish
Spanish mackerel
Spot
Spotted seatrout
Tarpon
Striped mojarra
Striped mullet
Wahoo
Tripletail
Vermillion snapper
White mullet
Weakfish
White grunt
Yellowtail snapper
Yellowedge grouper
Yellowfin tuna
                                                                                                                      o
                                                                                                                       o
                                                                                                                      O
                                                                                                                      O
                                                                                                                      "ro
                                                                                                                      O
                                                          In addition to the statewide coastal advisory,
                                                        Florida had two mercury advisories in effect for a
                                                        variety offish. In Texas, the Houston Ship Channel
                                                        continued an advisory for all fish species because of
                                                        the risk of contamination by chlorinated pesticides
                                                        and PCBs. In addition,  the advisory was expanded
                                                        to include potential dioxin contamination for all
                                                        fish in the Houston Ship Channel. Figure 5-27
                                                        shows the number of advisories issued along the
                                                        Gulf Coast for each contaminant (U.S.  EPA,
                                                        2007c).
                                                         Mercury
                                                            PCBs
                                                           Dioxin
                                                          Arsenic
                                                         Cadmium
                                                       Chlorinated
                                                         Pesticides
                                                            Zinc
Pelican (courtesy of courtesy of Ken Grimes, Jr, City of
Orange Beach).
10   20   30   40   SO   60   70   80  90   100
        Percent of Fish Advisories
       Listed for Each Contaminant
                                                        Figure 5-27.  Pollutants responsible for fish
                                                        consumption advisories in Gulf Coast coastal waters
                                                        (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
                                                        Note: An advisory can be issued for more than one
                                                        contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than 100.

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Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
Gulf Coast between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 5-2 presents the number of total and
monitored beaches, as well as the number and
percentage of monitored beaches affected by
notification actions from 2004 to 2008 for the
Gulf Coast (i.e., Florida's Gulf Coast beaches,
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama).
Data from Florida were not included in 2004
and 2005, limiting comparison with the 2006
to 2008 information. Nevertheless, there is an
increase of 32 monitored beaches for those years
amongst the other three states. From 2006 to 2008,
the percentage of monitored beaches affected by
notifications increased demonstrably from 48%
to 54% (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual national and
state summaries are available on EPA's  Beaches
Monitoring site: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
beaches/seasons/.
What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 5-3 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored Gulf Coast beaches affected by
various pollution sources for 2007- Unknown,
unidentified, and uninvestigated pollution sources
contributed to over 85% of beach notifications on
the Gulf Coast. The other major pollution sources
affecting Gulf Coast beaches in 2007 were boat
discharges (22%), storm-related runoff (28%), and
wildlife (22%) (U.S. EPA, 2009d).

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   In 2007, nearly 90% of beach notifications on
the Gulf Coast lasted up to a week, with most
(70%) in the 3- to 7-day duration period. Another
19% were either 1 day (4%) or 2 days (15%),
and the remaining 11% were of the 8- to 30-day
duration (9%) and over 30-day duration (2%)
(U.S.  EPA, 2009d). For more information on state
beach closures, please visit EPA's Beaches Web site:
http://water.epa. gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
index, cfm.
Table 5-2. Beach Notification Actions, Gulf Coast, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
a Data for Florida's Gulf Coast beaches is not included for 2004
Southeast and Gulf coast beaches in its state summary.
2004a
241
100
65
65%

and 2005

2005a
242
132
67
51%

because the state

2006
651
316
152
48%

did not

2007
649
323
164
51%

differentiate

2008
650
323
176
54%

between its

     152

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 Table 5-3. Reasons for Beach Advisories, Gulf Coast, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
 Reason for Advisories
 Other and/or unidentified sources
 Pollution sources not investigated
 Storm-related runoff
 Wildlife
 Boat discharge
 No known pollution sources
 Agricultural runoff
 Septic system leakage
 Sanitary/combined sewer overflow
 Sewer line leak or break
 Publicly owned treatment works
 Total Number
 of Monitored
Beaches Affected
      92
      73
      62
      50
      49
      30
       19
       19
       15
       I I
 Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple pollution sources.
   Percent of Total
 Monitored Beaches
      Affected
        41%
        33%
        28%
        22%
        22%
        13%
        9%
        9%
	7%
        5%
        <  1%
Wildlife, including sea gulls, can be a source of pathogens to beaches (courtesy of
Ken Grimes, Jr, City of Orange Beach,).
                                                                                                              153

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                 Summary
                        Based on the indices used in this report, the overall condition of Gulf Coast coastal
                      waters is rated fair. The coastal wetland and sediment quality indices are rated poor in
                      Gulf Coast coastal waters for 2003-2006, while water quality and benthic condition were
                      also of concern (rated fair and fair to poor, respectively). The fish tissue contaminants
                      index is rated good for this region. Benthic index values were lower than expected in 20%
                      of the Gulf Coast estuaries. Although elevated sediment contaminant concentrations were
                      found in only 3% of the coastal area, sediments were toxic in 15% of the coastal area.
                      Poor water clarity was observed in 21% of the coastal area, elevated levels of DIP were
                      observed in 14% of the area, and dissolved oxygen concentrations were rated poor in less
                      than 5% (4.8%)  of the area. DIN concentrations rarely exceeded cutpoints. The overall
                      condition rating of 2.4 in this report represents no significant change from the ratings of
                      2.4 and 2.2 observed in the previous reports (NCCR II and III), but still represents an
                      improvement in overall condition since the early 1990s.
                        NOAA's NMFS manages several fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico LME, including
                      reef fishes, mackerel, and shrimp. The top commercial species are invertebrate species
                      of white, brown,  and pink shrimp; oysters; and blue crabs. The menhaden stock in this
                      LME is healthy, but  in 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Pvita did considerable damage to
                      the four Gulf menhaden reduction factories. Continued coastal sinking and sea-level rise
                      in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico LME may lead to shrimp habitat deterioration, and
                      current high fishery yields may not be indefinitely sustainable.
                        Contamination in Gulf Coast coastal waters has affected human uses of these waters.
                      In 2006, 100% of the coastal miles of the Gulf Coast and 76% of the estuarine square
                      miles were under fish consumption advisories, primarily due to mercury contamination.
                      In addition, approximately 48%  of the region's monitored beaches were closed or under
                      advisory for some period of time during 2006.
                        Increasing population pressures in the Gulf Coast region warrant additional
                      monitoring programs and increased environmental awareness to correct existing problems
                      and to ensure that indicators that appear to be in fair condition do not worsen.
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                       West Coast Coastal  Condition
  As shown in Figure 6-1, the overall condition of
the coastal waters of the West Coast region based on
the 2004—2006 assessment period is rated good to
fair, with an overall score of 3-8. The water quality,
benthic, and fish tissue contaminants indices are
rated good, the sediment quality index is rated fair;
and the coastal habitat index is rated poor. Figure
6-2 provides a summary of the percentage of coastal
area in good, fair, poor, or missing categories for each
index and component indicator. This assessment
is based on  environmental stressor and response
data  collected by NCA from 139 sites in 2004 and
165 sites  in 2005 through 2006  throughout West
Coast coastal waters using comparable  methods and
techniques.
                               Overall Condition
                                West Coast (3.8)


                               | Good^ Fair   Poor]

                               Water Quality Index (S)

                               I Sediment Quality Index (3)

                               | Benthic Index (S)

                               Coastal Habitat Index (I)
I                               Fish Tissue Contaminants
                               Index (S)
             Figure 6-1. The overall condition of West Coast coastal
             waters is rated good to fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                        Please refer to Chapter I for
                        information about how these
                        assessments were made, the outpoints
                        used to develop the rating for each
                        index and component indicator, and the
                        limitations of the available data.
   Water Quality Index

         Nitrogen (DIN)

       Phosphorus(DIP)

          Chlorophyll a

          Water Clarity

       Dissolved Oxygen

 Sediment Quality Index

       Sediment Toxicity

   Sediment Contaminants

Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

         Benthic Index
                                                                             Fish Tissue
                                                                     Contaminants Index
                                                                             20    40    60    80    100
                                                                                Percent Coastal Area
                                                                        Missing
                                                     Figure 6-2. Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                     ranking for all indices and component indicators—West
                                                     Coast region (U.S. EPA/NCA).

                                                        The West Coast coastal area comprises more than
                                                     410 estuaries and bays, including the sub-estuary
                                                     systems that are associated with larger estuaries. The
                                                     size range of these West Coast coastal waterbodies
                                                     is illustrated by five order-of-magnitude size classes
                                                     of the systems sampled by EMAP/NCA—from
                                                     less than 1 square mile (Yachats River, OR) to
                                                     2,551 square miles (Puget Sound and the Strait
                                                     of Juan de Fuca, WA). The total coastal area of
                                                     the West Coast estuaries,  bays, and sub-estuaries
                                                     is 3,940 square miles,  61.5% of which consists of
                                                     three large estuarine systems—the San Francisco
                                                     Estuary, Columbia River, and Puget  Sound
                                                     (including the Strait of Juan de Fuca). Sub-estuary
                                                     systems associated with these large systems make
                                                     up another 26.8% of the  West Coast coastal area.
                                                     The remaining West Coast coastal waterbodies,
                                                     combined, comprise only 11.7% of the total coastal
                                                     area of the West Coast region.
     156

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                                                                                                                   ,
   West Coast coastal waters are located in two
provinces: the Columbian Province and the
Californian Province. The Columbian Province
extends from the Washington—Canada border
south to Point Conception, CA. Within the United
States, the Californian Province extends from Point
Conception south to the Mexican border. There
are major transitions in the distribution of human
population along the West Coast, with increased
population density occurring in the Seattle—Tacoma
area of Puget Sound, around San Francisco Bay,
and generally around  most of the coastal waters
of southern California. In contrast, the section of
coastline north of the San Francisco Bay through
northern Puget Sound has a much lower population
density.
   The coastal waters of the West Coast region
represent a valuable resource that contributes to
local economies and enhances the quality of life
for those who work in, live in, and visit these areas.
In the West Coast states of California, Oregon,
and Washington, the majority of the  population
lives in coastal counties. Between 1980 and 2006,
the coastal  population of the West  Coast region
increased by 44%, from 23-1  million to 33-3
million people (Figure 6-3). This was the largest
increase in  the number of individuals for any coastal
region in the United States over this time period.
Population density in these coastal counties has
also increased over this time period, from 299 to
431 persons/square mile  (NOEP, 2010). Figure 6-4
maps  the population density by county for the West
Coast region in 2006. These population growth
rates suggest that human pressures on West Coast
coastal resources will increase substantially in future
years.
          The NCA monitoring data used in
          this assessment are based on single-
          day measurements collected at sites
          throughout the United States during
          a 9- to 12-week period during the
          summer.  Data were not collected during
          other time periods.
•O
C
   40,000
   30,000
«  20,000
1 U.UUU

1980 1990 2000 2006 2008
Year

                                                                                                                    8.
.1
 Figure 6-3.  Population of coastal counties in the West
 Coast region from 1980 to 2008 (NOER 2010).
   Population Density
   by County
   (people/square mile)
   2006
    CH  Less than 100
    •  100 to less than 500
    •  500 to less than 2,500
    •  2,500 to less than 16,000
 Figure 6-4.  Population density in the West Coast
 region's coastal counties in 2006 (NOEP 2010).
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        Coastal Monitoring Data—
        Status of Coastal Condition
          The sampling program for the West Coast under
        NCA differed somewhat from other regions of
        the country. As a part of the EMAP Western Pilot
        Project, a variety of new initiatives were conducted.
        The NCA sampled small, western estuaries in 1999
        and 2001 (Oregon only), large estuaries in 2000,
        the intertidal areas of small and large estuaries in
        2002, and the waters of the continental shelf in
        2003- Results of these surveys have been published
        in a series of reports (Nelson et al., 2004, 2005,
        2007b, 2008; Hayslip et al., 2006, 2007; Partridge,
        2007; Sigmon et al., 2006; Wilson and Partridge,
        2007). The assessment results from 1999-2000
        were previously reported in the NCCR III (U.S.
        EPA, 2008c).
        Puget Sound's bluffs were formed by glacial activity and
        are the primary source of beach sediment along the
        shore (courtesy of USGS).
  All estuarine waters of the West Coast region
were included in the sampling framework for the
2004 survey, and this framework also was used in
a sampling effort spread out over 2 years in 2005—
2006. This sampling framework differed from the
previous 1999—2000 survey by excluding several
open water marine areas (e.g., Bodega Bay, Strait of
Juan de Fuca), the riverine portion of the Columbia
River Estuary, several harbors in northern
California (e.g., Monterey Harbor, Santa Barbara
Harbor), and intertidal areas in Washington. Both
surveys were conducted using probability-based
sampling designs, with sampling conducted during
the summer. In 2004, 34 sites were sampled in
Washington, 50 in Oregon, and 49 in California.
In 2005—2006, 50 sites were sampled each in
Washington and Oregon, and 100 sites were
sampled in California, equally divided between
northern and southern California. Sampling
categories  for the randomized designs differed
somewhat between the 2004 and 2005-2006 time
periods, so all sample locations were post-stratified
into  10 categories by area (e.g., Puget Sound, WA;
remaining coastal waters, WA; San Francisco Bay,
northern CA; remaining coastal waters, northern
CA). These areas were used in the areal weightings
for the final statistical analyses. Actual sample
numbers obtained or  analyzed varied due to various
factors, including equipment failure. For example,
benthic samples were obtained from 136 of 144
stations in 2004 and from all 200 stations in
2005-2006.
  The West Coast regional ratings for the sediment
contaminants component indicator and the
fish tissue  contaminants index were principally
driven by results for the harbor areas of southern
California. Compared to the results from the  1999—
2000 survey, contamination indicators showed
fewer poor stations from Puget Sound and San
Francisco Bay.  In the  1999—2000 survey, most of
the stations in the riverine portion of the Columbia
River were rated poor for contaminants; however,
this area was not sampled in the 2004—2006 survey.
Sites from the majority of smaller estuarine systems
along the West Coast were estimated to be in
generally good condition.
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          The sampling conducted in the EPA NCA survey is designed to estimate the percent of coastal
          area (nationally or in a region or state) in varying conditions, and the results are displayed as pie
          diagrams. Many of the figures in this report illustrate environmental measurements made at specific
          locations (colored dots on maps); however, these dots (color) represent the value of the  indicator
          specifically at the time of sampling. Additional sampling would  be required to define temporal
          variability and to confirm environmental condition at specific locations.

                                                                                                                   .1
      Water Quality Index
   The water quality index for the coastal waters
of the West Coast region is rated good, with 19%
of the coastal area rated fair and 2% rated poor for
water quality condition (Figure 6-5)- The water
quality index is based on measurements of five
component indicators: DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,
water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. In the NCCR
III report (U.S. EPA, 2008c), a large percentage
of West Coast survey area was rated in fair or
poor condition for the DIP indicator, and it was
suggested that re-evaluation of this indicator's
cutpoints was required to better reflect  natural
background conditions. For this report, the rating
cutpoints for DIN and DIP have been  revised and
computational approaches for the water clarity
indicator have been changed to better reflect the
attenuation of light through the water column
rather than just in the shallow surface layer.

Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
   The West Coast region is  rated good for DIN
concentrations, with 3% of the coastal  area rated
fair and 1% of the area rated poor. The West Coast
region is rated good for DIP concentrations, with
11 % of the coastal area rated fair and 9% rated
poor.
West Coast Water Quality Index
                Site Criteria: Number of component
                indicators in poor or fair condition.
                • Good = No more than I is fair
                O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or
                         more are fair
                • Poor = 2 or more are poor
                O Missing
      Poor
 Fair   2%
                                                      Figure 6-5.  Water quality index data for West Coast
                                                      coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                             159

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Chlorophyll o
   The West Coast region is rated good for the
chlorophyll a component indicator, with 25%
of the coastal area rated fair and 6% of the area
rated poor. The majority of sites rated poor were
located in the outer coast estuaries of Washington
and Oregon, particularly Willapa Bay and Gray's
Harbor in Washington. It is questionable whether
these poor conditions result from anthropogenic
impacts since this portion of the coast has low
population densities and limited anthropogenic
sources for nitrogen inputs. Percentiles for
chlorophyll a data were also computed from
the GLOBEC data set (Wetz et al., 2004),
and the measured concentrations at NCA sites
rated poor are in considerable excess of the
95th percentiles calculated from the GLOBEC
study. The extremely high values measured by
NCA may reflect upwelling-related nutrient
sources for phytoplankton blooms. It appears
that phytoplankton blooms may take place even
closer to the coastline than the locations where
the GLOBEC data were recorded, potentially in
the surf zone. Menge et al. (2009) report similarly
high values of chlorophyll a from very nearshore
sites  along the Oregon coast. Although long-term
mean chlorophyll a concentrations at these Oregon
sites were often above the NCA rating cutpoints
for poor water quality, these concentrations are
the result of natural upwelling processes. Menge et
al. (2009) also document significant interdecadal
variation in chlorophyll a levels. Further assessment
of the chlorophyll a rating cutpoints is warranted.

Water Clarity
   The West Coast region is rated good for water
clarity, with 2% of coastal area rated poor and 3%
rated fair. The same rating cutpoints were used
to assess water clarity across the region, with a
sampling site receiving a rating of poor if less than
10% of surface illumination was measured at a
depth of 1  meter.

Dissolved Oxygen
   The West Coast region is rated good for
dissolved oxygen concentrations, with 20% of the
coastal area rated fair and 2% of the coastal area
rated poor. The sites with the  lowest measured
values of dissolved oxygen were located in Dabob
Bay and the southern arm of Hood Canal, both
in Washington. Three stations sampled in the Los
Angeles—Long Beach Harbor  area were also rated
poor for this component indicator.
                       How were the new DIN and DIP rating cutpoints assigned?
                       Research has shown that coastal waters in the West Coast region may be strongly influenced by
                       upwelled water entering the estuaries on flood tides, especially during the summer months when
                       NCA sampling occurs (Mickey and Banas, 2003; Brown and Ozretich, 2009). Upwelling activity is
                       an important contributing factor determining the DIN and DIP concentrations measured in the
                       coastal waters  of the West Coast region during the summer. Thus, the highest values of nitrogen and
                       phosphorus observed in summer months tend to be associated with the upwelled water moving
                       into the estuary. The concentration values for assigning condition ratings for DIN and DIP used for
                       the West Coast in the NCCR II and NCCR III were based on literature from the East Coast, and
                       it was recognized that a reassessment of West Coast rating cutpoints in  light of new research was
                       warranted. Based on the DIP cutpoints used in the NCCR III, much of the West Coast was rated
                       either fair or poor for phosphorus, in spite of the fact there was no source of anthropogenic inputs
                       of phosphorus  in much of the region assessed. The DIP cutpoints were too low to be appropriate
                       for reference conditions in the West Coast region.The DIN cutpoints also appeared to be somewhat
                       high and did not appear to be particularly sensitive.
     160

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                                                                                                                  s
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index for the coastal
waters of the West Coast region was rated fair,
with 10% of the coastal area rated poor and 1%
rated fair (Figure 6-6). The sediment quality
index used is based on measurements of three
component indicators: sediment toxicity, sediment
contaminants, and sediment TOC; however,
there was some variation in the areas assessed and
the methods used to assess the sediment toxicity
component indicator. Sediment toxicity testing
was not conducted by Oregon in 2005—2006
because of the cost involved; however, the 2004
sampling included samples across  all estuaries,
such that an adequate coverage for Oregon was
available, although data density was lower than
for Washington and California. Also, California
used Eohaustorius estuarius as a test organism in
2005-2006 instead of the NCA standard organism,
Ampelisca abdita, since A. abdita was viewed by
the state as insufficiently sensitive. In spite of this
difference, the results of the sediment toxicity
indicator were virtually the same from the two
sample periods.

Sediment Toxicity
   The West Coast region is rated  poor for
sediment toxicity, with 16% of the coastal area
rated poor. This rating should be considered
provisional for several reasons. There were only a
total of 238 stations with sediment toxicity data.
                                                       West Coast Sediment Quality Index
               Site Criteria: Number and condition of
               component indicators.
               • Good = None is poor, and sediment
                        contaminants is good
               O Fair  = None is poor, and sediment
                        contaminants is fair
               • Poor = I or more are poor
               O Missing
                                                                                                                  8.
                                                                                                                  &
                                                                                                                  §
                                                             o
                                                            O
                                                            O
        Good
                          Good   Fair    Po
Figure 6-6.  Sediment quality index data forWest Coast
coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Laguna Beach, CA (courtesy of Brad Ashbaugh).
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Many of the 2004 sediment samples exceeded
the holding times specified by the NCA quality
assurance project plan (U.S. EPA, 2001a) due to
a hurricane that damaged the testing laboratory,
and this may have potentially increased the rate of
false positives. The toxicity testing involved use of
two species with distinctly different sensitivities;
Eohaustorius estuarius is more sensitive than
Ampelisca adita. Interpretation of the toxicity
results is unclear because of the low association
(30%) of poor sediment toxicity ratings and a poor
sediment contaminant rating at a station. There was
no association of the toxicity results with percent
TOC at a station. There was  a significant, but weak
(r2 = 0.1), negative association  of survivorship of E.
estuarius with percent  fines in the sediment.

Sediment Contaminants
   The West Coast region is rated good for the
sediment contaminants component indicator,
with 3% of the coastal area rated fair and less than
1% rated poor. With the exception of one ERM
exceedance for zinc in Grays  Harbor, WA, all other
ERM exceedances were in harbors in southern
California (e.g., Newport Bay,  San Diego Bay,
Marina del Rey, Long Beach Harbor). ERMs for
copper, mercury, zinc, total DDT, and 4,4'-DDE
were exceeded at some stations in California. There
were few ERL exceedances for total PCBs, and no
exceedances for total PAHs.

Sediment TOC
   The West Coast region is rated good for the
sediment TOC component indicator, with 8% of
the coastal area rated fair and 1% of the area rated
poor.
      Benthic Index
   Benthic condition in West Coast coastal waters
is rated good, with 6% of the coastal area rated fair
and 7% rated poor (Figure 6-7). In lieu of a formal
West Coast benthic index, the deviation of species
richness from an estimate of expected species
richness was used as an approximate indicator
of benthic condition. Log species richness was
regressed on salinity, to establish expected species
richness across varying salinity levels. A highly
significant (p < 0.0001) linear regression between
log species richness and salinity was found for the
region, although variability was high (R2 = 0.33).
                                                                        Coastal Habitat Index
                                                                     The coastal habitat index for the coastal waters
                                                                  of the West Coast region is based on the same
                                                                  information as that prepared for the NCCR III.
                                                                  The coastal habitat index is rated poor. From 1990
                                                                  to 2000, the West Coast region experienced a loss
                                                                  of 1,720 acres (0.53%) of coastal wetlands (Dahl,
                                                                  2010). The long-term, average decadal loss rate
                                                                  of West Coast wetlands is 3-4%. Although the
                                                                  number of coastal wetland acres lost for the West
                                                                  Coast region was less than the losses noted in other
                                                                  regions of the United States, the relative percentage
                                                                  of existing coastal wetlands lost in the West Coast
                                                                  region was the highest nationally. West Coast
                                                                  wetlands constitute only 6% of the total coastal
                                                                  wetland acreage in the conterminous  48 states;
                                                                  thus, any loss will have a proportionately greater
                                                                  impact on this regionally limited resource.
                       Guidelines for Assessing Sediment Contamination (Long et al., 1995)
                       ERM (Effects Range Median)—Determined values for each chemical as the 50th percentile
                       (median) in a database of ascending concentrations associated with adverse biological effects.
                       ERL (Effects Range Low)—Determined values for each chemical as the I Oth percentile in a
                       database of ascending concentrations associated with adverse biological effects.
     162

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 West Coast Benthic Index
                 Site Criteria: Lower limit
                 of the expected mean
                 diversity.
                 • Good = > 90%
                 O Fair  = 75%-90%
                 • Poor = < 75%
                 O Missing
                           Good   Fair    Poor
and size offish collected, the data available may be
for filets or for whole fish. Stations with poor or
fair ratings for the fish tissue contaminants index
were found principally in the harbors in southern
California (e.g., Newport Bay, San Diego Bay, Los
Angeles—Long Beach Harbor), a few locations in
Puget Sound in Washington, and two locations in
the Columbia River Estuary. The contaminants
found most often in fish tissue samples included
total PCBs and DDTs.
                                                       West Coast Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
Figure 6-7.  Benthic index data forWest Coast coastal
waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index is rated
good. Based on EPA advisory guidance values,
5% of the stations where fish were caught rated
fair and 9% of stations rated poor (Figure 6-8).
Fish for contaminant analysis were collected at
197 stations, and with multiple species collected
at some stations; this yielded a total of 272 tissue
analyses. The available data represent a mixture
of tissue analysis types. Depending on state, year,
                                                                      Site Criteria: EPA guidance
                                                                      concentration
                                                                      O Good = Below guidance range
                                                                      O Fair = Falls within guidance range
                                                                      • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
Figure 6-8.  Fish tissue contaminants index data for
West Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).

                                                                                                                    .o
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Trends of Coastal Monitoring
Data—West Coast Region
  A temporal trends analysis for the West Coast
region was not conducted in previous NCCRs due
to lack of appropriate comparison data sets. The
sampling efforts in 2001, 2002, and 2003 are not
directly comparable to the other sampling efforts,
so the most reasonable temporal comparison for
the West Coast region is the aggregated sample data
from 1999-2000 (U.S.  EPA, 2008c) compared
to the aggregated sample data from 2004 through
2006. The coastal waters included in the two
surveys, however, represent different geographic
areas. All small and large estuaries were included
in the 1999—2000 survey, while several areas were
excluded from the 2004—2006 survey. Several open
water marine areas (e.g., Bodega Bay, Strait of Juan
de Fuca), the riverine portion of the Columbia
River Estuary, several harbors in northern
California (e.g., Monterey Harbor, Santa Barbara
Harbor), and intertidal  areas in Washington were
not part of the 2004-2006 survey. The 1999-2000
assessment is based on data collected by NCA from
210 sites in 1999 and 171 sites in 2000, for a total
of 381 stations. Data on sediment contaminants
for 41 of the 71 sites within Puget Sound were
collected by NOAAs NS&T Program in  1997-
1999- NOAA NS&T also provided sediment and
infauna data for 33 of the 50 sites in San Francisco
Bay in 2000.
   For this report, the rating cutpoints for DIN and
DIP were revised, and the 1999-2000 data were
reanalyzed using the modified rating cutpoints.
Rating cutpoints for the chlorophyll a, water clarity,
and dissolved oxygen component indicators were
not changed; however, computational approaches
for the water clarity indicator were changed to
better reflect the attenuation of light through the
water column rather than just in the shallow surface
layer. The 1999—2000 water clarity indicator data
were reanalyzed to reflect this change. Based on
this reanalysis of the DIN, DIP, and water clarity
indicators, the water quality index for 1999—2000
received a revised rating of good, with 18% of
the coastal area rated fair and 7% rated poor. In
the NCCR III, the water quality index received
a rating of fair, with the lower ratings driven
primarily by the DIP and water clarity indicators.
The revised rating resulted from the application
of more appropriate rating cutpoints for the DIN
and DIP  indicators and from the more appropriate
computation methods used for the water clarity
component indicator.
   Figure 6-9 presents a comparison of the percent
of coastal waters  rated good, fair, and poor for the
water quality index and its component indicators
between the data collected in the 1999-2000 and
the 2004—2006 surveys. In both time periods,
the water quality index  was rated good, although
the area rated poor decreased slightly in 2004—
2006. DIN and DIP were rated good in both
            '',
          How was the water clarity component indicator recalculated?
          The computation of percent light at I meter used in the NCCR II and NCCR III reports calculated
          a light extinction coefficient (Kd) using the shallowest in-water readings only. To make the
          1999-2000 water clarity index comparable to that from the 2004—2006 analysis, raw data for the
          photosynthetically active radiation (i.e., PAR) were reexamined, new analysis routines were applied,
          and additional QA inspection was used. This resulted in exclusion of data from some stations that
          were included in the NCCR III analysis. A number of stations in Puget Sound were rejected because
          the in-water readings were taken only at the surface, mid-depth, and bottom locations. At deep water
          stations, the mid-depth reading was often zero, so there was no way to estimate the depth interval
          at which light went to zero in order to be able to calculate a meaningful Kd. After reanalysis, the
          percentage area in the three rating categories was very similar between sample periods.
     164

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time periods, with less area rated poor for DIN
and a slightly greater area rated fair for DIP in
2004-2006. The West Coast region was rated good
for the chlorophyll a component indicator in both
time periods. More area was rated poor and less
area was rated fair in 2004—2006. The water clarity
component indicator was rated good in both time
periods, with slightly less area rated poor in 2004—
2006. The West Coast region was rated good for
dissolved oxygen concentrations during both time
periods, with less of the area rated fair in 2004—
2006. Low dissolved oxygen levels were measured
in sub-estuaries of Puget Sound (Dabob Bay and
southern Hood Canal) during both periods. These
areas of Puget Sound are known to often have low
dissolved oxygen concentrations in the bottom
waters,  due to restriction on flushing in these
fjord-like embayments. The relative contribution
of anthropogenic nutrient inputs versus climatic
alterations in water replacement is still under
scientific assessment. Additional information
is available online at: http://www.hoodcanal.
washington.edu/index.jsp.
                             A Garibaldi in Channel Islands National Marine
                             Sanctuary near Santa Barbara, CA (courtesy of
                             NOAA).
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                                                                                           • Good
                                                                                           D Fair
                                                                                           • Poor
                                                                                           D Missing
                                                                           _b?'
           Water Quality
              Index
Dissolved
Inorganic
Nitrogen
 Dissolved
 Inorganic
Phosphorus
Chlorophyll a   Water Clarity
Dissolved
 Oxygen
Figure 6-9.  Comparison of percentage of coastal area of the West Coast in good, fair, and poor condition for the water
quality index and its component indicators between data collected in 1999-2000 and data collected in 2004-2006
(U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                             165

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   The percentages of coastal area in the West Coast
region rated in good, fair, and poor condition for
the sediment quality index and its component
indicators are compared in Figure 6-10 for data
collected in 1999-2000 and 2004-2006 sampling
periods. The rating for the sediment quality index
improved from fair to poor  in the 1999—2000
sampling period to fair in 2004—2006. Although
the species used to measure  sediment toxicity varied
in the 2004-2006 time period, the West Coast
region was rated poor for the sediment toxicity
component indicator during both time periods
and the percentage of coastal area rated poor was
comparable. Although the West Coast region
was rated good for the sediment contaminants
component indicator during both time periods,
much less of the coastal area was rated fair and
poor in 2004—2006. The West Coast region was
  also rated good for the sediment TOC component
  indicator for both time periods, with similar
  percentages of the coastal area rated fair and poor
  in both 1999-2000 and 2004-2006. The apparent
  improvement in the sediment quality index
  should be interpreted cautiously because the trend
  comparison includes only two points in time.
    Benthic condition in West Coast coastal waters
  was rated good in 1999-2000 and in 2004-2006,
  with similar percentages of the area rated fair and
  poor (see Figure 6-10). During both time periods,
  a significant (p < 0.01 for 1999-2000 and p <
  0.0001 for 2004-2006) linear regression between
  log species richness and salinity was found for the
  region, although variance was high (R2  = 0.43 in
  1999-2000 and R2 =  0.33 in 2004-2006) in both
                                                                  cases.


80
jg 60
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   Based on EPA advisory guidance values, the
fish tissue contaminants index was rated poor for
1999-2000 and good for 2004-2006. As shown
in Figure 6-10, the percentage of stations  that
were rated poor decreased from 26% to 9% in
the latter time period. Much of this difference is
due to the exclusion of the riverine portion of the
Columbia River Estuary in the later survey. Thirty
sites in the  Columbia River were rated poor for
fish tissue contaminants in the 1999—2000 survey;
if these sites were omitted from the 1999—2000
survey, only 17% of the stations would have
been rated poor, and the West Coast rating for
fish tissue contaminants would have been fair
instead of poor. It should also be noted that the
1999—2000 assessment data were based on analysis
of whole-fish  contaminant concentrations, while
the 2004-2006 data included both fillet and
whole-fish concentrations. Although the inclusion
of fillet samples might be expected to result in the
observation of lower concentrations than whole
fish, the total  number of analyzed fish composites
that were scored either fair or poor in 2004—2006
was virtually the same for fillet and whole-fish
samples. However, a possible impact of inclusion of
fillet samples  on the overall fish tissue result cannot
be excluded. The contaminants  found most often in
fish tissue samples included total PCBs and DDTs.
Coastal Ocean Condition-
West Coast
   This assessment area covers coastal ocean waters
along the western U.S. continental shelf, from the
Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington to the U.S./
Mexican border, which coincides roughly with
the U.S. portion  of the California Current LME
(U.S. Commission on  Ocean Policy, 2004). In
summer 2003, the western NCA, NOAA's NOS
and NMFS, western states (Washington, Oregon,
and California), and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project (Bight '03
program) coordinated various monitoring efforts
to assess status of ecological condition and stressor
impacts throughout this coastal ocean area and to
provide information as a baseline for evaluating
future changes due to natural or human-induced
disturbances.
  To address these objectives, the study
incorporated standard methods and indicators
applied in previous coastal EMAP/NCA projects
and NCCRs (U.S. EPA, 2001b; 2004b; 2008c),
including multiple measures of water quality,
sediment quality, and biological condition. A total
of 257  stations were  sampled (Figure 6-11) at target
depths  of 98-393 feet.
                                                                                                               £
                                                                                                               o
                                                                                                               Q.
                                                                                                               01
                                                                                                               ctL
c
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U
Is
W
a
O
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Figure 6-11. Map of West Coast coastal ocean sampling
stations (Nelson et al., 2008).
                                                                                                        167

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T5
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   Another key feature was the incorporation of
a stratified-random sampling design with stations
stratified by state and by NMS status. Each of the
three states was represented by at least 50 random
stations. In addition, a total of 84 random stations
were located within NOAA's NMS sites along the
west coast, including the Olympic Coast, Cordell
Bank, Gulf of Farallones, Monterey Bay, and
Channel Islands sanctuaries. Collection of flatfish
via hook-and-line for fish tissue contaminant
analysis was successful at 50 of the coastal ocean
stations distributed along the entire coast.
   Condition of these coastal ocean waters is
presented here on a region-wide basis and compared
to West Coast estuaries, based on  data from related
NCA surveys conducted in 2004—2006 (featured in
the previous section). A detailed report on results of
the West Coast coastal ocean assessment,  including
more in-depth comparisons of condition  by state
and by NMS vs. non-sanctuary status, is provided
by Nelson et al. (2008).
                 E Water Quality

             Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                The average concentration of DIN (nitrogen
             as nitrate + nitrite + ammonium) in coastal
             ocean surface waters, exclusive of the Southern
             California Bight stations wherein ammonium
             was not measured, was 0.106 mg/L (Figure
             6-12). Concentrations were much higher at sites
             in California than in Washington or Oregon,
             reflecting the influence of upwelling events in the
             central California area at the time of sampling.
                Estuarine surface waters had higher DIN
             concentrations, which averaged 0.140 mg/L  (see
             Figure 6-12). Although water quality assessment
             endpoints for DIN have been defined for estuaries,
             none are available for coastal ocean waters to use as
             a basis for evaluating whether observed levels reflect
             good vs. poor conditions. However, for comparison,
             less than 1% of coastal ocean area would be rated
             poor for the DIN component indicator using the
             NCA cutpoints. Near-bottom concentrations of
             DIN in coastal ocean waters, which averaged 0.421
mg/L, were slightly higher in comparison to the
coastal ocean surface-water mean of 0.106 mg/L.
   Concentrations of DIP in coastal ocean surface
waters averaged 0.018 mg/L for the 188 stations
with DIP data (see Figure 6-12). These levels
are lower than those measured in estuaries of
the region, which averaged 0.048 mg/L. Similar
to DIN, there are no available water-quality
assessment cutpoints for rating observed levels of
DIP in coastal ocean waters of the region. However,
for comparison, none of the coastal ocean area
would be rated poor for the DIP component
indicator based on the NCA cutpoints. DIP levels
in coastal ocean surface waters in the West Coast
region also appear to be lower than those observed
along the Atlantic coast of the United States (e.g.,
average  of 0.04 mg/L for Mid-Atlantic Bight,
Chapter 3; Balthis et al., 2009). Coastal ocean,
near-bottom concentrations of DIP collected  in
the West Coast region, which averaged 0.061, were
slightly  higher in comparison to the surface water
mean of 0.018 mg/L.
                                                       Estuaries
                                                        Coastal
                                                         Ocean
                 I    I    I    I

         •          '
                 i    i    i'   T
                                                              0  0.02 0.04 0.06  0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 0.16  0.18
                                                                              DIN (mg/L)
                                                       Estuaries
                                                        Coastal
                                                         Ocean
                                                       Estuaries
                                                        Coastal
                                                         Ocean
                                                                   0.01   0.02    0.03    0.04    0.05   0.06
                                                                              DIP (mg/L)
                                                                          4      6
                                                                             Chi a (ug/L)
                                                      Figure 6-12. Mean concentrations + 95% confidence
                                                      intervals of (a) DIN, (b) DIR and (c)  chlorophyll a in
                                                      coastal ocean vs. estuarine surface waters (Nelson et al.,
                                                      2008; U.S. EPA/NCA).
     168

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                                                                                                                  s
   DIN/DIP ratios were calculated as an indicator
of which nutrient may be controlling primary
production (phytoplankton growth). A ratio above
16 indicates that phosphorus limits growth, while
a ratio below 16 indicates that nitrogen is limiting
(Geider and La Roche, 2002). DIN/DIP ratios for
coastal ocean waters averaged 12.7, with the vast
majority of the survey area (about 93%) having
values < 16,  indicating that nitrogen levels are
limiting primary production in these areas.

Chlorophyll a
   Concentrations of chlorophyll a in offshore
surface waters averaged 6.04 ug/L (see Figure 6-12).
In general, these levels were lower than those
measured in estuaries of the region, which averaged
9-07 ug/L. As a further comparison, relative
to the NCA rating cutpoints for chlorophyll a
concentrations, 4%  of the coastal ocean survey
area would be rated poor. In contrast, chlorophyll
a levels in coastal ocean surface waters along the
West  Coast were much higher than those  observed
along the Atlantic coast of the United States (e.g.,
average of 0.23 ug/L for the Mid-Atlantic Bight,
see Chapter  3; Balthis et al., 2009). Near-bottom
concentrations of chlorophyll a along the West
Coast, which averaged 0.36 ug/L, were much
lower in comparison to the surface-water mean of
6.04 ug/L.

Water Clarity
   Concentrations of TSS were used as a surrogate
indicator of water clarity for coastal ocean waters.
TSS in coastal ocean surface waters averaged 4
mg/L, considerably lower than averages for estuaries
in the region (11.5 mg/L). While most coastal
ocean waters surface waters had TSS concentrations
under 7-4 mg/L, the 90th percentile of all measured
values, 38% of the estuarine survey area surface
waters had TSS above this level, which is not
surprising given the proximity of these sites to land.
Near-bottom concentrations of TSS in the coastal
ocean waters, averaging 3 mg/L, were slightly lower
in comparison to surface waters.
Dissolved Oxygen
   Near-bottom concentrations of dissolved oxygen
in coastal ocean waters averaged 3-7 mg/L. Although
none of the coastal ocean area would be rated poor
for the dissolved oxygen component indicator based
on NCA cutpoints, 92% of the survey area would be
rated fair and 8% of the area would be rated good
(Figure 6-13). The stations rated as good tended to
be grouped at the extreme southern and northern
ends of the survey region.
   In comparison to these coastal ocean waters,
only 20% of the estuarine area was rated fair and
a much larger portion (78%) was rated good (see
Figure 6-13). Near-bottom dissolved oxygen levels
in coastal ocean waters in the West Coast region
also tended to be lower than levels observed in other
coastal ocean regions, for example, in comparison to
the Mid-Atlantic Bight, where 100% of the survey
area would be rated good (Chapter 3, Balthis et al.,
2009) based on NCA cutpoints. Hypoxia along
the continental shelf appears to be associated with
upwelling conditions in the region, while severe
hypoxic events in inshore shelf areas (< 70 meters)
may be associated with changes in cross-shelf current
patterns (Grantham et al., 2004).
   Dissolved oxygen levels in coastal ocean surface
waters along the west coast, averaging 9-4 mg/L,
were generally higher than those in near-bottom
waters. The vast majority of surface waters (about
98% of the area) was rated good using the NCA
rating cutpoints for dissolved oxygen (Nelson et al.,
2008).
 §
 o
O
O
                                                      Giant-spined star; Channel Islands National Marine
                                                      Sanctuary (courtesy of NOAA).
                                                                                                           169

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                          Dissolved Oxygen
                          • Good = > 5 mg/L
                          O Fair  = 2-5 mg/L
                          • Poor = < 2 mg/L
        Figure 6-1 3. Dissolved oxygen data in near-bottom
        coastal ocean waters of the West Coast region.
        Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
        dissolved oxygen levels.
 Hal Sediment Quality
Sediment Contaminants
   Sediments throughout the region were relatively
uncontaminated except for a group of stations in
the Southern California Bight (Figure 6-14). Based
on the cutpoints used by NCA, about 99% of the
coastal ocean survey area would be rated good,
less than 1 % would be rated fair, and less than 1 %
would be rated poor for the sediment contaminants
component indicator.
   All stations rated poor for the sediment
contaminants component indicator were located
in the coastal ocean waters near Los Angeles. The
poor designation is based primarily on 4,4'-DDE
and total DDT concentrations exceeding their
corresponding ERM vales. No other locations
outside of the Los Angeles area had ERM
exceedances. Ten other contaminants, including
seven metals (i.e., arsenic, cadmium, chromium,
copper, mercury, silver,  zinc), 2-methylnaphthalene,
low-molecular-weight PAHs, and total PCBs
exceeded corresponding ERLs. The most prevalent
chemicals exceeding ERLs in terms of coastal
area were chromium (31%), arsenic (8%),
2-methylnaphthalene (6%), cadmium (5%), and
mercury (4%). The chromium exceedances may be
related to natural background sources common to
the region. The  2-methylnaphthalene exceedances
were conspicuously grouped around the Channel
Islands NMS. The mercury  exceedances were  all at
non-sanctuary sites in California, particularly in the
Los Angeles area.
   In comparison, estuarine habitats in the West
Coast region show a relatively higher incidence of
sediment contamination (see Figure 6-14), with
many contaminants above ERM values (including
mercury, copper, zinc, DDT, and 4,4'-DDE). Based
on the 2004-2006 NCA data, 97% of estuarine
area is rated good, 3% is rated fair, and >1% is
rated poor.
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              Sediment Contaminants
              O Good = No ERM exceeded and
                       < 5 ERLs exceeded
              O Fair   = No ERM exceeded and
                       > 5 ERLs exceeded
              • Poor  = > I ERM exceeded
                             Coastal Ocean
                               Fair   Poor
 Good    Fair
                                   Good
                                    99%
Sediment TOC
   High levels of TOC in sediments can serve as
an indicator of adverse conditions and is often
associated with increasing proportions of finer-
grained sediment particles (i.e., silt-clay fraction)
that tend to provide greater surface area for sorption
of both organic matter and the chemical pollutants
that bind to organic matter. Given the association
between TOC levels and finer-grain sediment
particles, it is useful to note that about 44% of the
coastal ocean survey area had sediments composed
of sands (< 20% silt-clay), 47% consisted of
intermediate muddy sands (20—80% silt-clay), and
9% consisted of mud  (> 80% silt-clay). Washington
and Oregon sites were dominated by sands, while
the majority of California sites had intermediate
muddy sands; all sites classified as muds were in
California (Nelson et  al., 2008).
   TOC levels throughout the region exhibited a
wide range (0%  to 7-6%, with an overall mean of
0.7%), consistent with the broad range of sediment
types. Based on the NCA rating cutpoints, the
majority of the survey area (97%) would be rated
good; about 3% would be rated fair; and less
than 1 % of the area, represented by two sites in
California, would be rated poor (Figure 6-15). The
cause of the elevated TOC at these latter two sites,
both in the Channel Islands NMS, is unknown at
this time.
   Estuaries of the region, which are often in closer
proximity to both natural and anthropogenic
sources of organic materials, had slightly higher
levels of TOC. While 91% of estuarine area was
rated good, 8% was rated fair, and 1% was rated
poor.

                                                                                                                   .1
Figure 6-14.  Sediment contaminants data in coastal
ocean sediments of the West Coast region (Nelson et
al., 2008; U.S. EPA/NCA).
Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
conditions.
                                                                                                            171

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                         Total Organic Carbon (TOC)
                         • Good = < 2%
                         O Fair  = 2-5%
                         • Poor = > 5%
        Figure 6-15.  Sediment TOC data in coastal ocean
        sediments in the West Coast region (Nelson et al., 2008;
        U.S. EPA/NCA).
        Note: Pie charts compare coastal ocean and estuarine
        conditions.
      Benthic Condition
   Coastal ocean waters along the West Coast
support a diverse assemblage of macrobenthic
infauna (those retained on a 1-millimeter sieve). A
total of 99,135 individual specimens representing
1,482 taxa (1,108 distinct species) were identified
in 259 0.1 -m2 grab samples collected throughout
the 2003 coastal ocean survey area. Polychaetes
were the dominant taxa, both by percent abundance
(59%) and percent taxa (44%). Crustaceans and
molluscs were the second and third most-dominant
taxa, respectively, both by percent abundance
(17% crustaceans,  12% molluscs) and percent taxa
(25% crustaceans,  17% molluscs). Collectively,
these three groups represented 88% of total faunal
abundance and 86% of the species throughout
these coastal ocean waters.
   Density, mean diversity, and mean number
of taxa were all higher in coastal ocean waters
than in NCA estuarine habitats (Figure 6-16).
Approximately 50% of the coastal ocean survey area
had less than or equal to 67 taxa per grab sample,
while only about 29% of the estuarine area had 67
or more taxa per grab. The diversity and number
of taxa in the coastal ocean sediments tended to be
higher at California sites than at Washington and
Oregon sites and were similar between NMS and
non-sanctuary sites (Nelson et al., 2008).
   The 10 most abundant taxa were the polychaete
worms Mediomastus spp., Magelona longicornis,
Spiophanes berkeleyorum, Spiophanes bombyx,
Spiophanes duplex, and Prionospio jubata; the bivalve
Axinopsida serricata; the brittle star Amphiodia
urtica; the decapod crustacean Pinnixa occidentalis;
and the ostracod crustacean Euphilomedes
carcharodonta. Mediomastus spp. and A. serricata
were the two most abundant taxa overall.
Although many of these dominant taxa have broad
geographic distributions throughout the region, the
same species were not ranked among the 10 most
abundant taxa consistently across states. The closest
similarities among states were between Oregon and
Washington. At least half of the 10 most abundant
taxa in NMSs were also dominant in corresponding
non-sanctuary waters.
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                                                                                                                   s
Estuaries

 Coastal
 Ocean
              20      40     60      80
              Richness (Number of taxa/0.1 m2)
                                            100
Estuaries

 Coastal
 Ocean
             1,000    2,000    3,000    4,000
             Density (Number of individuals/m2)
5,000
Estuaries

 Coastal
 Ocean
       I	I	
             I       23456
                   Diversity (H70.1 m2)

Figure 6-16.  Comparison of benthic species richness
(# of taxa/0.1  m2), density (#/m2), and diversity
(H'/O. I  m2, base 2 logs) in coastal ocean vs. estuarine
sediments along the West Coast (Nelson et al., 2008;
U.S. EPA/NCA).
   Many of the abundant benthic species have
wide latitudinal distributions in the coastal ocean
waters of the West Coast region, with some species
ranging from southern California into the Gulf of
Alaska and Aleutians. Of the 39 taxa on the list of
50 most abundant taxa that could be identified to
species level, 85% have been reported at least once
in estuaries of California, Oregon, or Washington,
exclusive of Puget Sound. Such broad latitudinal
and estuarine distributions are suggestive of wide
habitat tolerances.

Non-Indigenous Species
   Benthic species lists were examined for presence
of non-indigenous species in the coastal ocean
shelf environment by comparison to the PCEIS
classification scheme, a geo-referenced database
of native and non-indigenous species of the
Northeast Pacific (Lee et al., 2008). Of the 1,108
taxa identified to  species level, 13 were classified as
non-indigenous,  121  as cryptogenic (of uncertain
origin), and 208 as undetermined with respect to
potential invasiveness. Spionid polychaetes and the
ampharetid polychaete Anobothrus gracilis were a
major component of the non-indigenous species
collected on the shelf. A more detailed analysis of
the occurrence of non-indigenous species in this
region is available in Nelson et al. (2008).
   Despite uncertainties of classification, the
number and densities of non-indigenous species
appear to be much lower in the coastal ocean than
in estuaries of the West Coast region.  For example,
42 non-indigenous species were noted in a survey
of tidal wetlands of the West Coast  (Nelson et al.,
2007b) and over 200 non-indigenous species have
been reported from San Francisco Bay (Cohen and
Carlton, 1995).
                                                                                                                    §
                                                                         o
                                                                        O
                                                                                                                   O
Boulder Bay, WA (courtesy of Washington Department
of Natural Resources).
                                                                                                             173

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              Fish Tissue Contaminants
          Analysis of chemical contaminants in fish tissues
        was performed on whole-fish composites from 55
        samples of four fish species collected from  50 West
        Coast coastal ocean stations. Fish were collected
        from 21 stations in Washington, 20 in Oregon, and
        9 in California. The fish species selected for analysis
        were Pacific sanddab  (Citharichthys sordidus),
        speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus),
        butter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), and Dover sole
        (Microstomus pacificus). Concentrations of a suite
        of metals,  pesticides, and PCBs were compared to
        risk-based EPA advisory guidelines for recreational
        fishers (U.S. EPA, 2000c).
          None of the 50 stations where fish were
        caught would have been rated poor  based on
        NCA cutpoints. Nine stations had cadmium
        concentrations between the corresponding lower
        and upper endpoints, and one station had  total
        PCB concentrations between these endpoints.
        Therefore, these 10 stations would be rated fair
        based on the NCA cutpoints  (see Table 1-21).
        The remaining 40 stations had concentrations
        of contaminants below corresponding lower
        endpoints and would be rated good based  on the
        NCA cutpoints. Based on the NCA Fish Tissue
        Contaminants Index  (see Table 1-22) the overall
        coastal ocean region would receive the same rating,
        good, as the West Coast coastal waters.

        West  Coast Sanctuaries
          NOAA's five NMS areas in the West Coast
        region appeared to be in good ecological
        condition, based on the measured indices and
        component indicators, with no evidence of major
        anthropogenic impacts or unusual environmental
        qualities compared to nearby non-sanctuary waters
        (Nelson et al., 2008). Benthic communities in
        sanctuaries resembled those in corresponding
        non-sanctuary waters, with similarly high levels of
        species richness and diversity and low incidence
        of non-indigenous species. Most oceanographic
        features  were also similar between sanctuary and
        non-sanctuary locations. Exceptions (e.g., higher
concentrations of some nutrients in sanctuaries
along the California coast) appeared to be
attributable to natural upwelling events in the area
at the time of sampling.

In addition, sediments within the sanctuaries
were relatively uncontaminated, with none of the
samples having any measured chemical in excess
of ERM values. The ERL value for chromium
was exceeded in sediments at the Olympic Coast
NMS, but at  a much lower percentage of stations
(4 of 30) compared to Washington and Oregon
non-sanctuary areas (31 of 70 stations). ERL values
were exceeded for arsenic, cadmium, chromium,
2-methylnaphthalene, low-molecular-weight
PAHs, total DDT, and 4,4'-DDE at multiple
sites within the Channel Islands NMS. However,
cases where total DDT, 4,4'-DDE, and chromium
exceeded the ERL values were notably less prevalent
than in non-sanctuary waters of California.  In
contrast, 2-methylnaphthalene  above the ERL
was much more prevalent in sediments at the
Channel Islands NMS compared to non-sanctuary
waters off the coast of California. While there
are natural background sources of PAHs from oil
seeps throughout the Southern  California Bight,
we cannot, at present, either confirm or exclude
this as a possible cause of the higher incidence of
2-methylnaphthalene contamination around the
Channel Islands NMS.
The Dover sole was one of the fish species tested
for contamination during the coastal ocean survey
(courtesy of NOAA Fish Watch).
174

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          Multi-metric benthic indices are often used as indicators of pollution-induced degradation of the
          benthos (see review by Diaz et al., 2004). An important feature is the ability to combine multiple
          biological attributes into a single measure that maximizes the ability to distinguish between degraded
          vs. non-degraded benthic condition, while accounting for the influence of natural controlling factors.
          Although a related index has been developed for the southern California mainland shelf (Smith et al.,
          2001),there is currently no such index available for coastal ocean applications across the West Coast.
          In the absence of a benthic index, Nelson et al. (2008) assessed potential stressor impacts in the West
          Coast coastal ocean study by looking for obvious linkages between reduced values of key biological
          attributes (numbers of taxa, diversity, and abundance) and synoptically measured indicators of poor
          sediment or water quality. Low values of species richness, H', and density were defined for the
          purpose of this analysis as the lower  I Oth percentile of values within each individual  state. Evidence
          of poor sediment or water quality was defined using NCA cutpoints for the sediment contaminats,
          sediment TOC, and dissolved oxygen component indicators.

                                                                                                                 .1
Coastal Ocean Condition
Summary—West Coast
   The 2003 West Coast coastal ocean assessment
showed no major evidence of poor water quality
and indications of poor sediment quality only
in limited areas. Based on NCA cutpoints, the
majority (97%) of sediments had TOC levels in the
good range, 3% was rated fair, and less than 1%
was rated poor. Relative to chemical contamination
of sediments, 99% of the survey area was rated as
good, less than 1% was rated fair, and less than  1%
was rated poor. None of the coastal ocean sampling
area was rated poor for the dissolved oxygen
component indicator.
   An analysis of potential biological impacts (see
text box) revealed no major evidence of impaired
benthic condition linked to measured stressors.
There was only one station, representing 0.02%
of the survey area, where low values of any of the
targeted benthic attributes co-occurred with poor
sediment or water quality. This one station (off
Los Angeles) had low benthic species richness
and abundance accompanied by high sediment
contamination, with eight chemicals in excess of
corresponding ERL values and two  in excess of
ERM values. Two stations located in California
waters (Channel Islands NMS) had TOC levels in a
range (> 5%) potentially harmful to benthic fauna,
but low values of benthic community attributes
were not observed at either of these sites. High
sediment contamination from chemicals was a more
prevalent stressor, occurring at 22 stations (all in
California), but only at one of the sites where low
values of benthic attributes were observed. In fact,
most of these latter stations with  high sediment
contamination had more than 100 species per grab.
   Such lack of concordance suggests that these
coastal ocean waters are currently in good
condition, with the lower-end values of the various
biological attributes representing  parts of a normal
reference range controlled by natural factors (e.g.,
latitude, depth, sediment type). Alternatively, it is
possible that for some of these sites the lower values
of benthic variables reflect symptoms of disturbance
induced by other unmeasured stressors,  including
human activities causing physical disruptions of the
seafloor (e.g., commercial bottom trawling, cable
placement, minerals extraction). Future monitoring
efforts in these coastal ocean areas should include
indicators  of such alternative sources of disturbance.

Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—California Current
LME
   The California Current LME extends along
the Pacific Coast of North America from the
northwestern corner of Washington to the southern
end of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico
(Figure 6-17). The California Current LME is
                                                                                                          175

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        temperate and represents a transition zone between
        subtropical and subarctic water masses. Major
        driving forces in this LME are the effects of shifting
        oceanic climate regimes and intensive commercial
        fishing. The LME is considered to have moderately
        high productivity based on primary productivity
        (phytoplankton)  estimates. The major commercial
        fisheries are salmon (e.g., Chinook,  coho, sockeye,
        pink, chum), pelagic (water-column dwelling)
        species (e.g., Pacific hake,  Pacific sardine, northern
        anchovy, jack mackerel, chub, Pacific mackerel,
        Pacific herring), groundfish (bottom-dwelling)
        species (e.g., Pacific halibut,  Dover sole, shortspine
        thornyhead, longspine thornyhead,  sablefish), tuna,
        and invertebrates (e.g., Pacific oyster, Dungeness
        crab, California market squid). Coastal upwelling,
        El Nino, and the  El Nino-Southern Oscillation
        result in strong interannual variability in California
        Current LME productivity. There is evidence of a
        decrease in zooplankton abundance in the 1980s,
        a possible indication of a major oceanic regime
        shift. There is speculation  about the causes of these
        fluctuations and the role of climate on seasonal
        change in the regulation of community structure,
        energy flow, and population dynamics (NOAA,
        2010b).
           From 2003 to  2006, commercial fisheries in
        the California Current LME generated over $1.6
        billion for Washington, Oregon, and California.
        These fisheries are dominated by invertebrates,
        particularly crab,  oysters, and squid. Other
        important fisheries in this LME include salmon,
        which are harvested for recreational and subsistence
        purposes, pelagics (mostly hake and sardines),
        salmon, tuna, and groundfish (particularly sablefish
        and sole). See Figure 6-18 for revenues and landings
        of the top commercial fisheries in the California
        Current LME. Resources in  this LME are shared
        by the United States, Canada, Mexico, and
        numerous tribes,  and are harvested by a mixture
        of commercial, recreational,  and subsistence
        fishermen. Consequently fisheries management
        is a mix of regulations from several international
        organizations, federal agencies, state governments,
        and tribes.
Figure 6-17.  California Current LME (NOAA, 201 Ob).
Red tree coral (Primnoo) is considered Essential Fish
Habitat for rockfishes (courtesy of Olympic Coast
National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA).
176

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      200,000

       180,000

       160,000

       140,000
   c
   2   120,000
   u
   §  100,000
   (A
   Cl
   c
   IB
       60,000

       40,000

       20,000

            0
                                          Landings

                                          Value
                                                             600
                                                             500
                                                                                             400
                                                                   I
                                                                   ID
                                                                                             300   ?
                                                                                             200
                                                              100
                  Dungeness
                    Crab
Pacific
Oyster
 California
Market Squid
       Species
Chinook
 Salmon
Albacore
  Tuna
Sablefish
Figure 6-18. Top commercial fisheries for the California Current LME: landings (metric tons) and value (million dollars)
from 2003-2006 (NMFS, 2010).

                                                                                    .o
Invertebrate Fisheries
   In the California Current LME, the greatest
revenue is generated by the invertebrate fisheries,
dominated by the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus
magister). Indeed, this fishery yielded over $480
million in total ex-vessel  (preprocessing) revenues
from 2003 to 2006,  over three times the value of
the next highest commercial fishery,  the Pacific
oyster (Figure 6-18). The Dungeness crab, named
after Dungeness, WA, has a range that spans from
the Aleutian Islands  of Alaska to Point Conception,
CA Although landings of this crab species
(130,000 metric tons) are only about a third of
those for pelagic fisheries, the higher market value
for crab generates greater total revenues. Other crab
species harvested in this LME are red rock crab
and southern tanner crab, which have much lower
revenues. Crabs are harvested with the use of traps
                       or pots and, because they are largely caught in state
                       waters, are regulated by the relevant state agencies.
                       State agencies consult on issues affecting this crab
                       fishery under the Pacific States Marine Fisheries
                       Commission.
                         In terms of revenue, the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea
                       gigas) comprises the second-largest fishery, with
                       commercial landings between 2003 and 2006
                       totaling only 23,000 metric  tons, but worth over
                       $156 million in total ex-vessel revenues (see Figure
                       6-18)  (NMFS,  2010). The Pacific oyster is an
                       introduced species from Japan, cultivated primarily
                       in aquaculture farms throughout estuaries. Farmed
                       mostly in state waters, these  oysters are regulated by
                       state agencies.
                         California market squid (Loligo opalescens),
                       the third-largest commercial fishery in this LME,
                       is mostly harvested in northern and southern
                                                                                                              177

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        California. Between 2003 and 2006, this fishery
        generated approximately $103 million in total
        ex-vessel revenues for the California Current LME
        (see Figure 6-18) (NMFS, 2010). The California
        market squid fishery fluctuates in response to
        environmental conditions, coupled with rapid
        changes in the export market. California landings
        plummet during the cyclical El Nino oceanographic
        regimes, but increase considerably when these
        relatively warm water oceanic events are displaced
        by cool-water processes (i.e., La Nina). Volume
        increased during the 1990s  because of new Asian
        and European markets and  higher prices paid
        for squid from California Current LME waters.
        Despite the increased demand, the market value
        of squid remains low. Of the top commercial
        species in this LME, squid had the largest landings
        (60,000 metric tons greater than the next  highest),
        but the  third-largest revenues. Squid are fished at
        night with powerful lights that attract them to the
        surface, where they are either directly vacuumed
        into a boat's hold or are caught with an encircling
        net. This fishery is  regulated under the Pacific
        Fishery  Management Council's coastal pelagic
        species FMP (PFMC, 2011 a), which also  includes
        northern anchovy,  market squid, Pacific sardine,
        Pacific mackerel, and jack mackerel. This FMP
        regulates coastal pelagic fisheries largely by limiting
        entry and restricting allowable harvests.
        Salmon are highly migratory, spending part of their
        life cycle in fresh water and part at sea (courtesy of
        U.S. FWS).
Pacific Salmon Fisheries
   Pacific salmon include five species: Chinook,
coho, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon.
Commercially, the most valuable species is
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytschd), with
combined catches from 2003 to 2006 worth over
$103 million in total ex-vessel revenues (see Figure
6-18) (NMFS, 2010). All species are harvested
for commercial, recreational, and subsistence uses.
All are anadromous (migratory); they are born
in freshwater and swim to the ocean, where they
may undergo extensive migrations. At maturity,
they return to their home stream to spawn and
complete their life  cycles. The abundance of
individual stocks of Pacific salmon and the mixture
of stocks contributing to fisheries fluctuates
considerably. Consequently, annual landings
also fluctuate. During 2004—2006, the annual
commercial salmon catch in the California Current
LME averaged 16,300 metric tons and provided
revenues averaging approximately $40 million at
dockside. During the same period, recreational
catches averaged about 4,700 metric tons  (NMFS,
2010). Since 2003, stocks originating south
of the Columbia River have decreased sharply,
culminating in the 2008 closure of all commercial
salmon fisheries in California and most of the
Oregon coast.
   Chinook salmon has an average yield of 8,919
metric tons and is harvested recreationally and
commercially throughout the LME. Chinook
salmon production tends to fluctuate considerably,
depending on hatchery production, freshwater
habitat conditions, and ocean productivity. Since
a warming of the waters in the California Current
LME in the late  1970s, abundance of Chinook
salmon has decreased. Nevertheless, Chinook
salmon are still the fourth-largest fishery for the
California Current LME, with landings generating
over $103 million in total ex-vessel revenues from
2003 to 2006. Recreational landings of Chinook
salmon have averaged about 480,000 fish annually
for the period 2004-2006 (NMFS, 2010). In
recent years, freshwater habitat loss and degradation
have been exacerbated by drought in many areas in
the western United States, resulting in historically
178

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                                                                                                                 s
low abundance for a number of stocks and reduced
commercial and recreational catches in many areas.
   Pacific salmon depend on freshwater habitat
for spawning and juvenile rearing and are
particularly vulnerable to habitat degradation.
Dam construction, logging, agriculture, grazing,
urbanization, and pollution have degraded
freshwater habitat throughout their range. Water
extraction and flow manipulation for hydropower,
irrigation, flood control, and municipal needs
directly competes with salmon for the fresh water
on which they depend.  In recent years, freshwater
habitat loss and degradation have been exacerbated
by drought in many areas in the west, resulting in
historically low abundance for a number of stocks
and reduced commercial and recreational catches in
many areas.
   Decreases in Chinook salmon abundance have
forced reductions and closures of ocean fisheries
in recent years.  These reductions, in some cases,
follow earlier, legally mandated salmon allocations
to interior-water fisheries for harvest by Native
American tribes. The proportion of Chinook
salmon production originating from hatcheries (fish
breeding and raising centers) has been increasing,
though hatcheries still play a larger role in coho
salmon production. The number of salmon farms
is also on the rise. The key difference  is that farmed
salmon are raised entirely in pens until they are
adults, whereas hatcheries release raised young.
The increasing role of aquaculture in salmon
fisheries is raising concerns about the interactions
of these fish with wild stocks. Another problem
faced by commercial salmon fisheries in the
California Current LME is price  decreases driven
by market competition  from record landings of
Alaskan salmon and steadily increasing aquaculture
production. Since 2003, prices have somewhat
rebounded as greater niche markets for local ocean-
caught fish have developed.
   The management of the salmon resource is
complex, involving many stocks originating from
various rivers and  the interactions of various
jurisdictions,  including international  commissions
and federal, state,  and tribal agencies. The Pacific
Salmon Commission oversees the allocation of
salmon between the United States and Canada,
based on aggregate stock abundance. The Pacific
Fishery Management Council (PFMC), in
cooperation with the States and tribal fishery
agencies, manages ocean fisheries for Chinook and
coho salmon under a framework FMP (PFMC,
20 lie). Fisheries within state waters are managed
by state agencies or tribal governments.

Groundfish Fisheries
  The PFMC's groundfish FMP (PFMC, 20lib)
contains 89 species that are organized into
several sub-fisheries, including the Dover sole,
thornyheads, and sablefish complex; nearshore,
shelf, and slope rockfishes; and Pacific hake
(whiting). Most vessels targeting groundfish deliver
to shore-side processors. From 2004—2006, the
recent average yield of California Current LME
groundfish in the United  States was 288,604
metric tons. In  2006, U.S. commercial landings
of California Current LME groundfish totaled
288,990 metric tons, generating $81 million in
ex-vessel revenues.  Pacific hake accounted for
91% of the 2006 landed catch and 44% of the
associated ex-vessel value. Other important species
in 2006 were Petrale sole  ($6 million), Dover sole
($5 million), and thornyhead rockfish ($3 million;
PSMFC, 2008). The trawl fleet is the largest sector
of the commercial fishery, generating 75% of the
ex-vessel revenues (PSMFC, 2008).
 §
 o
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O
Observer sorting fish on board a groundfish vessel off
the U.S. West Coast (courtesy of NOAA).
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   Although Pacific hake (Merlucciusproductus)
accounts for a majority of the landing tonnage,
sablefish (also known as black cod) (Anoplopoma
fimbria) is the highest grossing groundfish fishery
in the California Current LME, generating over
$79 million in total ex-vessel revenues from 2003
to 2006 with landings of nearly 30,000 metric tons
(see Figure 6-18). This species is considered highly
valuable, making up only 2% of groundfish catch,
but generating 28% of total groundfish revenues
in 2006 (Hastie and Bellman, 2007). Sablefish
is a long-lived groundfish species that resides on
muddy bottoms between 1,000 and 9,000 feet in
the North Pacific. Adult sablefish are opportunistic
feeders, consuming various invertebrates and other
fish. Sablefish larvae are prey for many invertebrate
and vertebrates, while adults are generally targets
for seabirds, sharks, killer whales, and other
fish. Because the sablefish is highly mobile, with
migration up to 2,000 miles, it is also managed
under the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/
Aleutian Islands FMPs (NPFMC, 2011; 201 Oa).
   The PFMC, which manages the groundfish
fishery stocks in the California Current LME, has
recently brought sweeping managerial changes.
The Council implemented a catch-share program
for the groundfish fisheries in January of 2011.
The use of these types of fisheries management
schemes is increasing in popularity throughout
the Regional Councils. In essence, the annual
allowable harvest or quota is divided by sectors,
with allocations based on catch history. For the
Pacific Coast groundfish fishery, there are currently
three  participating sectors—Shoreside Trawl,
Mothership Trawl, and Catcher-Processor. For
more  information on this new regulatory regime
within the Pacific Fishery Management Council,
see http://www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/fishery-
management-plan/fmp-amendment-20/.

Highly Migratory Fisheries
   The other major class of revenue-generating
fisheries in the California Current LME is
comprised of highly migratory species, the most
commercially important of which is Albacore
tuna (Thunnus alalunga). From 2003 to 2006,
the Albacore tuna fishery generated nearly $96
million in total ex-vessel revenues, with landings
over 50,000 metric tons, ranking it the fifth-largest
commercial fishery for this region (NMFS, 2010).
This tuna resides throughout the world's temperate
waters, migrating thousands of miles annually. In
the Pacific Northwest, its diet largely consists of
pelagic species and squid.
   Due to its migratory nature, this tuna is
regulated by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna
Commission, developing policies implemented
by NMFS and respective state agencies. The
regulations are largely based on a permit system
(for both commercial and recreational fisheries),
logbooks, and seasonal restrictions on certain
gear types. Because this species is heavily targeted
by sports fishermen, managers have recently
implemented bag limits on sport-caught albacore.
Other tuna fisheries in this LME include yellowfin,
bigeye, skipjack,  and Pacific bluefin.

Fishery Trends and Summary
   Figure 6-19 shows landings of the top
commercial fisheries in the California Current
LME since 1950. Until 1980, landings in the
squid fisheries were reported as a group, rather
than on a single species-specific basis. Catches of
California market squid have dropped precipitously
(by 70,000 metric tons) since peaking in 2000 at
120,000 metric tons. Dramatic fluctuations in this
fishery are a regular occurrence, as the Californian
market squid is highly vulnerable to alterations
in the El Nino cycle. Landings of the other top
species have remained below 40,000 metric tons
since 1950, with considerable fluctuations in the
Albacore tuna and Dungeness crab fisheries, though
both have been trending upwards since 1990.
Recent landings of Pacific oyster, Chinook salmon,
and sablefish have been under 10,000 metric tons.
The Chinook salmon and sablefish fisheries have
both had decreased landings since the 1980s,
while harvests of the Pacific oyster have remained
consistent.
     180

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       120,000
       100,000
   JS   80,000
   .5?
    « s
    " •£ 60,000
   H°!
       40,000
       20,000
                           I960
1970
                              Dungeness Crab
                              Chinook Salmon
    1980
Year
Pacific Oyster
AlbacoreTuna
1990
2000
                            California Market Squid
                            Sablefish
Figure 6-19. Landings of top commercial fisheries in the California Current LME from 1950 to 2006, metric tons
(NMFS.20IO).

                                                                                                                 .o
   Dungeness crab, Pacific oyster, California
market squid, Chinook salmon, Albacore tuna,
and sablefish comprise the top commercial fisheries
for the California Current LME because they
generate the highest ex-vessel revenues. This LME
generated over $1.6 billion from 2003-2006, $480
million of which was from Dungeness crab alone.
Currently, the most important recreational fisheries
are for various species of salmon, flatfish, and tuna,
which support tourism, bait and tackle shops,
and recreational boating and other activities, all of
which contribute significantly to the value derived
from the ecosystem service of fishery production.
In terms of landed tonnage, this LME is dominated
by hake and squid; however, the hake fishery is not
one of the top six commercial fisheries due to lower
market prices. Aside from their commercial and
recreational values, all fish species have important
roles in their ecosystems.  Smaller species serve
as prey for larger predators, which themselves
may be  food for seabirds or marine mammals.
When fishermen over-harvest specific species, this
can undermine a critical balance in ecosystem
function, and through a cascade of events, can
             inadvertently eliminate both predator and prey
             species. Interestingly, in this LME, there seems
             to be a pronounced effect on fishery production
             from El Nino, causing seasonal changes in fishery
             community structure and population dynamics.
             Advisory Data
             Fish Consumption Advisories
               In 2006, 42 fish consumption advisories were
             in effect for the estuarine and coastal waters of the
             West Coast region (Figure 6-20). A total of 39% of
             the estuarine square miles on the West Coast were
             under advisory in 2006, and most of the estuarine
             area under advisory was located within the San
             Francisco Bay/Delta region or within Puget Sound.
             Only 13% of the region's coastal miles were under
             advisory; more than one-half of these miles were
             located in southern California, and the rest were
             located on the coastal shoreline of Washington's
             Puget Sound. None of the West Coast states
             (California, Oregon, or Washington) had statewide
             coastal advisories in effect during 2006 (U.S. EPA,
             2007c).

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                  Number of
                  Consumption
                  Advisories per
                  USGS Cataloging
                  Unit in 2006
                   CH  I
                   • 2-4
                   CH 5-9
                   •  10+
             Figure 6-20. The number of fish consumption
             advisories active in 2006 for the West Coast coastal
             waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).

                Seventeen different contaminants or groups
             of contaminants were responsible for West
             Coast fish advisories in 2006, and 10 of those
             contaminants were listed only in the waters of
             Puget Sound and the bays emptying into the
             Sound. These contaminants were arsenic, creosote,
             diethylphthalates, industrial and municipal
             discharge, metals, multiple contaminants, PAHs,
             pentachlorophenol, tetrachloroethene, and volatile
             organic compounds. In California, Oregon, and
             Washington, PCBs used to be the major pollutant,
             accounting for 71% of advisories in 2003,  but they
             are now responsible for only 38% of advisories
             (Figure 6-21). DDT was partly responsible for 12
             advisories issued in California. Although only three
             advisories were issued for mercury on the West
             Coast, the entire San Francisco  Bay was covered by
one of these advisories. Among the other pollutants,
the chemicals with most advisories were inexplicit
pollutants, such as not-specified pollutants, which
were issued under the advisories in Puget Sound
(U.S. EPA, 2007c). Table 6-1 lists the species and/
or groups under fish consumption advisory in 2006
for at least some part of the coastal waters of the
West Coast region is provided below.

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
West Coast between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 6-2 presents the number of total and
monitored beaches, as well as the number and
percentage of beaches affected by notification
actions from 2004 to 2008 for the West Coast
region. Over the past several years, the total
number of beaches identified by the West Coast
states increased substantially, from 501  in 2004 to
1,829 in 2008, largely resulting from changes in
State delineations of beaches rather than increasing
acreage. During this same period, the number of
monitored beaches increased from 501  to 516. Of
these monitored beaches, the percentage of beaches
that were closed or under advisory for some period
of time during the year has consistently hovered
between 31% and 33% (or 160 beaches) (U.S.
EPA, 2009d). Annual national and state summaries
are available on EPA's Beaches Monitoring site:
http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/seasons/.
  Mercury
            10  20  30  40   SO   60   70   80   90   100
                    Percent of Fish Advisories
                   Listed for Each Contaminant
Figure 6-21.  Pollutants responsible for fish consumption
advisories in West Coast coastal waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
Note: An advisory can be issued for more than one
contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than 100.
     182

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                                                                                                                   ,
Table 6- 1 . Species and/or Groups under Fish Consumption Advisory in 2006 for at Least
Some Part of the Coastal Waters of the West Coast Region (U.S. EPA,2007c)
Bat ray
Bivalves
Black croaker
Brown smooth-hound
shark
Bullhead
California halibut
Chinook salmon
Clams
Corbina
Crabs (whole, shell, and
hepatopancreas)
English sole
Gobies
Jacksmelt
Kelp bass
Leopard shark
Pacific angel shark
Pile surfperch
Queenfish
Red rock crabs
Redtail surfperch
Rockfish
Salmon
Sculpin
Shark
Shellfish
Shiner perch
Starry flounder
Striped bass
Sturgeon
Surfperch
White croaker
Yelloweye rockfish



                                                                                                                   8.
                                                                                                                   .1
Table 6-2. Beach Notification Actions, West Coast, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004a
501
501
160
32%

2005a
1,227
519
170
33%

2006
1,227
525
167
32%

2007
1,226
509
160
31%

2008
1,829
516
160
31%

What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 6-3 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored West Coast beaches affected by
various pollution sources for 2007- Nearly all
beach advisories on the West Coast were attributed
to unidentified and/or other sources (85%) and
non-investigated sources (about 15%)- With septic
system leakage and "no known pollution source,"
together contributing less than 1% of all beach
advisories (U.S.  EPA, 2009d).

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Over three-quarters of beach notification actions
on the West Coast in 2007 lasted a week or less,
with the highest frequency (40%) ranging from
3 to 7 days. While actions lasting 8 to 30 days
accounted for nearly 20% of all the notifications,
those of the greatest duration (above 30 days) only
comprised  5% of all beach actions (U.S. EPA,
2009d). For more information on state beach
closures, please visit the EPA's Beaches Web site:
http://water.epa. gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
index, cfm.
Table 6-3. Reasons for Beach Advisories,
West Coast, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
                 Total Number
                 of Monitored
Percent of Total
  Monitored
Reason for
Advisories
Other and/
or unidentified
sources
Pollution
sources not
investigated
No know
pollution
sources
Septic system
leakage
Beaches
Affected
425


75


5


4
Beaches
Affected
84%


15%


< 1%


< 1%
Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple pollution
sources. Additional reasons for beach advisories exist, but
were not documented for the West Coast states for 2007.
                                                                                                            183

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                 Summary
                        Based on data from the NCA assessment of 2004-2006, the overall condition of West Coast
                      coastal waters is rated good to fair. Indicators for overall water quality, tissue contaminants,
                      and benthic condition were all rated good for the West Coast region; however, coastal habitat
                      and sediment quality were rated poor and fair, respectively, and driven primarily by the
                      harbor areas of southern California. Although assessments from 2001—2003 are not directly
                      comparable to the 2004—2006 sampling efforts, the current contamination indicators showed
                      fewer poor stations from Puget Sound and San Francisco Bay compared to the results from the
                      1999-2000 survey. Sites from the majority of smaller estuarine systems along the West Coast
                      were estimated to be in generally good condition.
                        The 2003 West Coast region coastal ocean assessment showed that these waters are in
                      generally good condition, with no major evidence of poor water quality. Poor sediment
                      quality was indicated only in limited areas. While some areas of impaired benthic condition
                      were found, they did not appear to be linked to sediment quality indicators. High sediment
                      contamination from chemicals was found at 23 stations (all in California), but not at any of
                      the sites where low values of benthic attributes were observed. This indicates that the areas of
                      biological  impairment may just be within the normal range, or it is possible that there are some
                      other types of disturbances that have not yet been measured, including human activities such
                      as commercial bottom trawling,  cable placement, and minerals extraction. Future monitoring
                      efforts  in these coastal  ocean areas should include indicators of other sources of disturbance.
                        In the California Current LME, the greatest revenue is generated by the invertebrate
                      fisheries, dominated by the Dungeness crab, Pacific oyster, and California market squid. The
                      California market squid fishery fluctuates in response to environmental conditions, coupled
                      with rapid changes in the export market. Since 2003, the size of stocks originating south of
                      the Columbia Pviver has decreased sharply, culminating in the 2008 closure of all commercial
                      salmon fisheries in California and most of the Oregon coast. In recent years, freshwater habitat
                      loss and degradation have been exacerbated by drought in many areas in the west, resulting
                      in historically low abundance for a number of salmon stocks. The Albacore tuna fishery is the
                      fifth-largest commercial fishery for this region. Although Pacific hake accounts for a majority
                      of the groundfish landing tonnage, sablefish is the highest grossing groundfish fishery in the
                      California Current LME. Recent years have brought sweeping changes to the management
                      of Pacific Coast groundfish fishery and the research necessary to support the fishery's
                      management. Harvest  rates for most assessed groundfish stocks have been reduced in recent
                      years, and  new permitting and observation programs have been implemented to help stocks
                      recover. The states of California, Oregon, and Washington are developing and implementing
                      protected areas within  their waters to guard sensitive habitats of particular concern for
                      groundfish fish production.
                        Contamination in West Coast coastal waters has affected human uses of these waters.
                      In 2006, 39% of the estuarine square miles on the West Coast and 13% of the region's
                      coastal miles were under fish consumption advisory. Advisories were issued for a number
                      of contaminants, including PCBs and mercury. In addition, 32% of the region's monitored
                      beaches were closed or under advisory for some period of time during 2006. Elevated bacteria
                      levels in the region's coastal waters were primarily responsible for the beach closures and
                      advisories.
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                      Great  Lakes  Coastal  Condition
  As shown in Figure 7-1, the overall condition of
the U.S. coastal waters of the Great Lakes region
between 2003 and 2006 is rated fair to poor, with
an overall condition score of 2.2. The water quality
and fish tissue contaminants indices for the Great
Lakes are rated fair, the coastal habitat and benthic
indices are rated fair to poor, and the sediment
quality index is rated poor. The overall condition and
index ratings were derived from indicator findings
and the ecological condition of the St. Lawrence
River, each of the five Great Lakes, and the St.
Clair River-Lake St. Clair-Detroit River Ecosystem,
presented in the document State of the Great Lakes
2009 (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b).
This  report is the sixth biennial report issued jointly
by the governments of Canada and the United States.
NCA survey strategies were first implemented in the
Great Lakes region during the 2010 sampling season,
and future assessments for this region will be more
similar to those for other regions. This will allow for
a more direct comparison of coastal conditions found
in the Great Lakes to those of the marine coastal
environment.
                               Overall Condition
                                Great Lakes (2.2)
                              Water Quality Index (3)

                              Sediment Quality Index (I)

                              Benthic Index (2)

                              Coastal Habitat Index (2)
                              Fish Tissue Contaminants
                              Index (3)
             Figure 7-1. The overall condition of Great Lakes
             coastal waters is rated fair to poor (based on data from
             Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009a,b).
   The Great Lakes ecosystem covers 295,000
square miles, with nearly 11,000 miles of shoreline,
and holds 5,500 cubic miles of water. This
watershed includes a broad range of habitats, from
the coniferous forests and rocky shorelines of Lake
Superior to the fertile soils and sandy shores of Lake
Michigan and Lake Erie. The coastal ecosystems
of the Great Lakes include about 30,000 islands,
wetlands, coastal marshes, sand dunes, savannas,
prairies, and alvars.
   The coastal counties of the U.S. Great Lakes
region host the third-largest coastal population in
the nation.  The population of Great Lakes coastal
counties increased by 1% between 1980 and 2006,
from 19-4 million to 19-7 million people  (Figure
7-2). Over the same time period, the region's coastal
population  density increased slightly from 271 to
275 persons per square mile (NOEP, 2010). Figure
7-3 presents a map of the U.S. Great Lakes region
population  density in 2006.
                                                                  20,000 •
1
V)
I
c
.0
d
3
Q.
"5
8
0
U

1 5,000
1 0,000
5,000 ^1
0




1980




1990 2000
Year




2006 2008
                                                    Figure 7-2. Population of U.S. coastal counties in the
                                                    Great Lakes region from 1980 to 2008 (NOEP 2010).

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                                                           Population Density by County
                                                           (people/square mile) 2006
                                                            EH Less than 100
                                                                100 to less than 500
                                                            CH 500 to less than 1,000
                                                            • 1,000 to 6,000

                                                                                                                .O
Figure 7-3. Population density in the Great Lakes region's coastal counties in 2006 (NOEP, 2010).
Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal Condition
  Although an extensive monitoring network exists
for the Great Lakes region, Great Lakes monitoring
is not directly comparable to monitoring conducted
under NCA for coastal estuaries and marine waters.
The GLNPO uses best scientific judgment to  select
monitoring sites that represent the overall condition
of the Great Lakes, whereas the NCA survey uses
a probabilistic survey design to represent overall
ecosystem condition and to attain a known level
of uncertainty. The two programs use different
methods, and spatial estimates of coastal condition
cannot be assigned to the Great Lakes because
they would be inconsistent and incomparable with
those calculated for the marine coastal regions of
the United States. The GLNPO and Great Lakes
scientists assess the overall status of eight ecosystem
components of the Great Lakes, some of which
are similar to NCA indices and indicators. The
results of these efforts, along with relevant technical
information, are available from three Web sites:
the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conferences
(SOLEC) site, available at http://www.epa.gov/
grtlakes/solec; the GLNPO site, available at http://
www.epa.gov/glnpo; and a binational site, available
at http://binational.net/home_e.html. These results
are  used to  quantify and categorize NCA indices
and component indicators for the Great Lakes
in the NCCRIV and will be summarized briefly
in the following sections. The condition values
are  based primarily on expert opinion and were
integrated with other regional condition data to
evaluate the overall condition of the nation's coastal
environment. NCCA sampling was implemented
during 2010 through coordination with EPA and
multiple state agencies. Information on binational
programs contributing to overall assessment of the
Great Lakes from both Environment Canada and
the EPA is available at http://www.binational.net.
                                                                                                          187

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              Water Quality Index
           The NCCR IV assessment combines several
        SOLEC indicators and GLNPO Water Quality
        Survey results (e.g., eutrophic condition, water
        clarity, dissolved oxygen levels, phosphorus
        concentrations) into a water quality index to allow
        comparison of water quality condition estimates
        for the Great Lakes with the NCA water quality
        index for U.S. marine coastal waters. Based on
        these component indicators, the Great Lakes
        water quality index is rated fair. Starting with this
        report, the SOLEC indicators used for the water
        quality index include nearshore waters and open
        waters. Nearshore waters are defined as having
        a depth of 66 feet or less. Of the four SOLEC
        indicators used to develop  the water quality
        index, eutrophic condition is rated fair to  poor,
        phosphorus concentrations are rated poor, water
        clarity is rated good to fair, and dissolved oxygen
        concentrations are rated good. It should be noted
        that low dissolved oxygen levels continue to be a
        problem in the central basin of Lake Erie during the
        late summer due to seasonal stratification  in areas
        greater than 66 feet deep.
        Beach combers hunt for shells along a beach near
        Petoskey, Ml, on northern Lake Michigan (courtesy of
        U.S. EPA).
Eutrophic Condition
   Eutrophic conditions for the nearshore areas of
the Great Lakes are rated fair to poor. Eutrophic
conditions were determined using a surface water
quality index developed by Chapra and Dobson
(1981), and summarized data of nearshore water
quality parameters of total phosphorus and
chlorophyll a concentrations from Nearshore Areas
of the Great Lakes 2009 (Environment Canada and
U.S. EPA, 2009a). The upper lakes (Lake Superior
and Lake Huron) and Lake Ontario coastal waters
were described as oligiotrophic waters (nutrient-
poor waters with low productivity), whereas
Lake Erie coastal waters were described as having
eutrophic conditions. Data suggest that Cladophora
algal blooms have become more problematic by
fouling beaches in the lower lakes during the past
decade. This may be due in part to consumption
of plankton by dreissenid mussels (the zebra and
quagga mussels), which promotes Cladophora
growth by increasing water clarity (Environment
Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009a).

Nutrients: Phosphorus
   Phosphorus concentrations and loadings for
the nearshore areas of the Great Lakes region
were rated poor. After strong efforts to reduce
phosphorus loads were implemented during the
1970s, phosphorus concentrations decreased
steadily. Recent evidence suggests that although
total phosphorus concentrations have remained
relatively constant, the proportion of phosphorus
present in an available dissolved form has increased
dramatically. Point-source controls have been
effective in decreasing phosphorus levels in the
past; however, the primary driver of phosphorus
loadings is now related to nonpoint sources such as
stormwater runoff (Environment Canada and U.S.
EPA,  2009a). This finding has strong implications
for nearshore areas and embayments. Elevated
levels of phosphorus in these regions are likely
to contribute to nuisance algae growths, such as
the attached green algae Cladophora, and  toxic
cyanophytes, such as Microcystis.
188

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Water Clarity
   Water clarity, measured by Secchi disk, was
rated as good to fair for the Great Lakes region.
In general, the upper lakes exhibited good water
clarity, and the lower lakes, especially Lake Erie and
Lake Michigan, had fair water clarity due in part to
harmful algal blooms along the coastline during the
latter part of the summer. Increasing water clarity is
an indicator of decreasing algal populations, which
form the base of the aquatic food chain in the
Great Lakes. This is not necessarily an indication of
improving conditions.

Dissolved Oxygen
   Dissolved oxygen concentrations are rated good
for the Great Lakes region, with levels that are
capable of supporting life in most coastal regions of
the Great Lakes. However, portions of the offshore
central basin of Lake Erie are still experiencing
anoxic (< 2 mg/L) conditions during summer
stratification periods, and at times, these conditions
may persist until late summer turnover. This
condition is variously hypothesized to be a result
of regional climate effects or of invasive species,
particularly dreissenid mussels, improving water
clarity, or altering the cycling of nutrients. Some of
                             these alterations lead to algal blooms that die and
                             sink to the bottom and consume dissolved oxygen
                             during the decay process, resulting in summer
                             anoxia in the bottom waters.
                                   Sediment Quality  Index
                               The NCCR II and III assessments indicated that,
                             for the SOLEC indicators measured, the primary
                             problem in the Great Lakes coastal waters was
                             degraded sediment quality. The sediment quality
                             index for the coastal waters of the Great Lakes
                             region continues to be rated as poor for the NCCR
                             IV, with sediment contamination contributing to
                             the poor condition assessed in many harbors and
                             tributaries and affecting the beneficial uses at all 30
                             of the U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs)
                             throughout the region (Figure 7-4). Contaminated
                             sediments are also the leading cause offish
                             consumption advisories  for this region and serve as
                             a source of contaminants to open water as a result
                             of sediment re-suspension processes (Environment
                             Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b). In addition,
                             sediment contamination continues to be a problem
                             affecting the sediment quality in  this region.

                                            .1
                              NipigonBay  Jackfish Bay
                Canada  Thunder Bay
                USA
                                                                                            St. Lawrence River
                                                                                               (Massena)
 • Binational AOCs
 9 Canadian AOCs
 • United States AOCs
 ^ Areas in Recovery
 •jf Delisted Canadian AOCs
 • Delisted U.S. AOCs
Lower Green Bay
 and Fox River
 Milwaukee Estuary

  Waukegan Harbor
             Oswego River
         Rochester Embayment
     Eighteen Mile Creek
     Niagara River (New York)
     Buffalo River
Presque Isle Bay
:abula River
                                                 Rouge Ri\
                                                   River
                                  Grand Calumet River        Maumee River
                                         Cuyahoga River
                                      Black River
Figure 7-4.  Great Lakes Areas of Concern (U.S. EPA, 2009a).

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      Benthic Index
   The benthic condition of the Great Lakes, as
measured by benthic community health, is rated
fair to poor, although conditions in individual
lakes vary. This rating was based on results of the
GLNPO's benthic invertebrate monitoring and
surveillance monitoring programs. Populations
of the benthic invertebrates Diporeia in cold,
deepwater habitats and Hexagenia in mesotrophic
habitats (with intermediate nutrient levels and
productivity) were used for evaluating benthic
health because of their  importance at the  base of
the Great Lakes food web. Benthic conditions
for 2003—2006 have an unchanging trend: some
Great Lakes have good  benthic conditions while
areas of other lakes have fair or poor conditions.
Further explanation of this  evaluation states that
a good status indicates  oligotrophic conditions
(low nutrients, low productivity), while a fair or
poor status indicates mesotrophic to eutrophic
conditions  at locations  that have historically been
oligotrophic. This rating is based on the Milbrink's
index of oligochaete worm densities, which was
used as a component of the Benthos Diversity and
Abundance SOLEC indicator.
   The status and trend of the benthic invertebrate
Diporeia  are mixed and deteriorating  (Environment
Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b). Diporeia is a small
shrimp-like animal that is native to the Great
Lakes. Although the cause is unknown, Diporeia
populations are dramatically decreasing in Lakes
Michigan, Huron, and  Ontario, and they are
extremely rare and even absent in some areas of
Lake Erie. However, Diporeia populations in Lake
Superior  remain good and stable despite what is
occurring in the other lakes. Figure 7-5 illustrates
the decrease in of Diporeia populations in Lake
Huron. The decrease in of Diporeia populations
began to  occur 2 to 3 years  after the invasion of the
                                                              dreissenid mussels. Initially, researchers thought
                                                              that the mussels were outcompeting Diporeia for
                                                              food. Yet, Diporeia seem to be persisting in the
                                                              presence of mussels in the New York Finger Lakes,
                                                              and they have also disappeared in some areas
                                                              where food is available and mussels are absent.
                                                              Therefore, it appears that a more complex situation
                                                              is responsible for the decrease in of Diporeia.
                                                              Box core samplers are used to collect sediment
                                                              samples from the lake bottom without disturbing the
                                                              surface (courtesy of U.S. EPA).
190

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             D/pore/a
               2000
D/pore/a
 2003
D/pore/a
 2007
                                            012345

                                      Density (1,000 individuals per square meter)

Figure 7-5. Distribution and abundance (number per square meter) of the amphipod D/pore/a spp. in Lake Huron in
2000, 2003, and 2007. Small crosses indicate location of sampling stations (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b).

                                                                                                                 .1
   Currently, the status of Hexagenia is mixed,
with a mixed-to-improving trend. Hexagenia is a
mayfly who lays its eggs in the Great Lakes and
spends the nymph portion of its lifecycle living
in the sediment. Hexagenia is important to many
species offish and is sensitive to pollution and
changes in habitat. Hexagenia was very abundant
in the 1930s—1940s; however, in the 1950s, anoxic
conditions caused populations to collapse in many
of the embayments and coastal areas where they
were formerly abundant. Anecdotal reports of
Hexagenia recovery in the Great Lakes started to
occur in the 1990s, which led to  the investigation
of its distribution in western Lake Erie. In 2002,
Hexagenia nymph density drastically increased;
however, that was followed by a steady population
decrease from 2002—2006 (Environment Canada
and U.S. EPA, 2009b).
              Coastal  Habitat Index
          The coastal habitat index for the Great Lakes
        region is rated fair to poor and has a deteriorating
        trend. This index is based on amphibian abundance
        and diversity, wetland-dependent bird diversity and
        abundance, the areal extent of coastal wetlands by
        type, and the effects of water level fluctuations.
          The Great Lakes support a diversity of coastal
        wetlands types despite significant losses. More
        than one-half of the Great Lakes coastal wetlands
        was lost between 1780 and 1980  (Turner and
        Boesch, 1988; Dahl, 1990). The extent of coastal
        wetlands in the Great Lakes has a mixed status
        with a deteriorating trend. This assessment was
        made based on the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland
        Consortium coordination of a binational coastal
        wetland database (Albert et al., 2005). This database
        identified that approximately 535,584 acres of
        coastal wetlands exist within the Great Lakes basin.
                                                                                                          191

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           Amphibian communities are often used to assess
        wetlands because amphibians are very sensitive
        to wetland contamination and  degradation. The
        Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP) has been
        collecting amphibian data since 1995 across the
        Great Lakes basin. During this time, the MMP
        has recorded 13 different species of amphibians,
        with the spring peeper being the mostly frequently
        detected. Currently, the coastal wetland amphibian
        communities of the Great Lakes have a mixed status
        and deteriorating  trend. The MMP has detected
        significantly decreasing trends in populations of
        the American toad, chorus frog, green frog, and
        northern leopard frog. There has also been no
        significantly increasing trend in any common
        species of amphibian (Environment Canada
        and U.S. EPA, 2009b). However, it should be
        noted that there is high among-year variability
        in amphibian populations and  that they are
        very sensitive to changes in water level. Further
        monitoring would determine if the decreases
        observed reflected environmental fluctuations
        that caused water  level changes, or if other factors
        influenced individual amphibian  species.
        The red-winged blackbird's habitat is open fields,
        marshes, and wetlands (courtesy of NPS).
   The status of coastal wetland bird communities
is mixed with a deteriorating trend. The MMP has
been collecting data on coastal wetland birds since
1995, with 610 routes around the Great Lakes
basin. The MMP recorded that the most common
nonaerial foraging bird species was the red-winged
blackbird, followed by the swamp sparrow, yellow
warbler, and the marsh wren. Another common
species that exclusively nests in marshes are the
American coot, undifferentiated common moorhen,
Virginia rail, black tern,  common moorhen, pied-
bille grebe, American bittern, American coot,
sora, and least bittern. Lastly,  the most common
bird species that typically forage above the marsh
are the tree swallow and  bank swallow. Overall,
17 species of wetland birds exhibited significant
population decreases across the Great Lakes
basin while only 6 species of birds exhibited a
significantly positive trend (Environment Canada
and U.S. EPA, 2009b). One stressor to waterfowl
populations in some areas of the lower Great Lakes
is avian botulism. It is thought that recurring
outbreaks of botulism are due to the effects of
dreissenid mussels and round gobies, because
the mussels create environmental conditions that
promote the pathogen, and the gobies transfer it
from the mussels to higher levels of the food web
(Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b).
Further monitoring would determine the degree to
which changes in wetland bird species occurrences
reflect changing marsh conditions as a consequence
of changing water levels.
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for the coastal
waters of the Great Lakes region is rated fair, with
an improving trend for the NCCRIV based on
the SOLEC indicator for contaminants in whole
fish. Fish advisory programs are well established
in the Great Lakes states and offer advice to
residents regarding the amount, frequency, and
species of fish that are safe to eat. Such advice
is based primarily on concentrations of PCBs,
mercury, chlordane, dioxin, and toxaphene in fish
tissues. Concentrations of these contaminants
192

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are generally decreasing in fish tissues, as shown
in Figure 7-6, but are still present at levels that
support continuation of existing fish advisories for
all five Great Lakes. Whole-fish composite samples
of top-predatory fish are analyzed for contaminants
in the United States, and fillets are analyzed in
Canada; however, the guidelines are similar in
both countries. The fish used in the analysis are
walleye for Lake Erie and lake  trout for the other
four Great Lakes. Each lake is rated individually
based on the concentrations of PCBs and DDT
and the corresponding fish advisory category; the
final overall rating is an average of all five individual
ratings (Environment Canada  and U.S. EPA,
2009b).

Trends  of Coastal Monitoring
Data—Great Lakes Region
  The NCCRII rated the overall condition of
the Great Lakes  as fair to poor for the period  1998
through 2000. No additional assessment data for
the Great Lakes  were collected in 2001 and 2002
(the time period of the NCCR III), and ratings
                              in this report for 2003—2006 remain the same
                              as in 1998 through 2000. Therefore, the analysis
                              of trends in environmental condition estimates
                              for the Great Lakes cannot be made at this time.
                              Comparisons of previously reported conditions
                              with current conditions are briefly discussed in the
                              previous sections.
                              Fowler's toad is one of the amphibian species
                              monitored in Great Lakes wetlands by the MMP
                              (courtesy of U.S. EPA).
        E
        Q_
        D.
            1991
1993
                            Superior
                  Michigan
Huron
Erie
                  2003
Ontario
                  2005
Figure 7-6. Total PCB concentrations in composite samples of walleye in Lake Erie and lake trout in the other Great
Lakes, 199 1-2005 (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2009b).
                                                                                                        193

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        Fisheries—Great Lakes
           Fishery production in the Great Lakes continues
        to decrease due to the combined effects of
        overfishing, invasive species, and habitat destruction
        (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2009;
        Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2007). By the
        1950s, stocks of many of the most commercially
        valuable species (lake trout, lake sturgeon, blue
        pike, Atlantic salmon, and lake herring) had
        nearly collapsed, having been replaced by their less
        valuable native counterparts (whitefish and yellow
        perch) and introduced species (Pacific, Chinook,
        and coho salmon; smelt; and alewife) (GLFC,
        2008). From 1970 to 2007, commercial landings
        decreased again from 65 to 20 million pounds
        (Figure 7-7).
           Fisheries of the Great Lakes are shared by the
        United  States and Canada and mostly occur in
        offshore waters. Presently, the U.S. commercial
        fishery is dominated by lake whitefish, yellow
        perch, smelt, and bloater chubs, with landings from
        Lake Michigan representing the largest portion of
        these catches (Kinnunen, 2003). From 2003 to
        2006, the commercial fisheries in the Great Lakes
        generated over $52.7 million in total ex-vessel
                  revenues (preprocessing value) (NMFS, 2009a).
                  The annual Canadian commercial harvest, which is
                  estimated at 28 million pounds, primarily consists
                  of walleye and yellow perch catches from Lake
                  Erie (Kinnunen, 2003). Both U.S. and Canadian
                  fisheries are managed at the regional level, by state,
                  provincial, and intertribal agencies.
                  Lake trout is the largest native trout in the Great
                  Lakes (courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR Lake Superior
                  FisheriesTeam).
                 80,000
                 70,000
                 60,000
                 50,000
              * 40,000
                 30,000
                 20,000
                 10,000
                      1971
1981
                                                            Year
1991
2001
2006
                                             — Lake Michigan   — All Great Lakes

        Figure 7-7.  U.S. Great Lakes commercial fish landings in pounds, 1971-2007 (NMFS, 2009a).
194

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LakeWhitefish and Yellow Perch
Fisheries
   Lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), a
member of the salmon family, dominates U.S.
commercial fishery landings in the Great Lakes.
From 2003 to 2006, the total ex-vessel revenues
generated by the U.S. commercial harvests of lake
whitefish were over $28 million (NMFS, 2009a).
Lake whitefish average one to three pounds at
harvest and are valued for their meat as well as
their roe, which is made into caviar (Fisheries and
Oceans  Canada, 2009). The small mouth of this
fish limits its diet to small fish, fish  eggs, insect
larvae, clams, and zooplankton (primarily Diporeia,
a small shrimp-like crustacean). This fishery
increased markedly beginning in the early 1980s,
and despite decreases in landings in the late 1990s,
seems to be increasing again (Figure 7-8).
                      Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is another valuable
                   commercial fishery species because of its favorable
                   taste and texture, yielding over $ 11 million in total
                   U.S. ex-vessel revenues from 2003 to 2006 (NMFS,
                   2009a). This species has a vast geographic range
                   spanning from Nova Scotia to South Carolina
                   along the Atlantic Coast and west  to Kansas and the
                   Montana border, reaching the southern portions of
                   the Northwest Territories of Canada. Small fish and
                   minnows are the favored diet of adult yellow perch,
                   which are themselves an important prey for many
                   predatory fish, including walleye, bass, northern
                   pike, and muskellunge  (University of Wisconsin Sea
                   Grant Institute, 2010). Populations of yellow perch
                   have considerable interlake variability, although
                   recently commercial harvests throughout the Great
                   Lakes stabilized at around 2 million pounds (Figure
                   7-8) (NMFS, 2009a).

                                                         .o
    i/i
   1
       15,000
       12,000
        9,000
        6,000
        3,000
             1971
1981
                                                   Year

                                            Whitefish
1991
2001
2006
                         Yellow Perch
Figure 7-8.  U.S. whitefish and yellow perch commercial landings from the Great Lakes in pounds, 1971-2006 (NMFS,
2009a).
Note: Yellow perch is often considered a prey species.
                                                                                                           195

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T5
o
O
O
Lake Trout and Walleye Fisheries
   Lake trout and walleye were once dominant
predatory fish in the Great Lakes, but current
populations only allow for a limited commercial
fishery. From 2003 to 2006, the total  U.S. ex-
vessel revenues from these fisheries were $683,000
(NMFS, 2009a). Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush]
inhabits all five Great Lakes and has a geographical
range that extends to the northernmost reaches
of North America. On average, lake trout weighs
around 7 pounds, though some trophy specimens
have weighed in at 25 pounds. The diet of lake
trout consists of several prey species, including
native chubs and sculpins and introduced
alewives and smelt (University of Wisconsin Sea
Grant Institute, 2010). Before nearing complete
extinction in the 1950s, lake trout was a valuable
commercial species in the Great Lakes. It now
survives in sufficient numbers to allow commercial
harvesting only in Lake Superior. After peaking at
1.2 million pounds in the late 1990s,  lake trout
landings decreased in the early 2000s  (Figure 7-9)
Stocking programs, which raise fish in controlled
conditions, continue in the other lakes.
   After peak harvests in the early 1990s, walleye
(Stizostedion vitreum) landings decreased, possibly
due to shifts in environmental states, variable
reproductive success, influences from invasive
species, and changing fisheries (Figure 7-9)
(Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2007).
Since 2000, harvests have increased slightly
primarily due to improvements in environmental
conditions around spawning and nursery habitats
(Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2007). The
commercial harvests in this fishery remain small,
generating just over $173,000 from 2003 to 2006,
with the vast majority of landings occurring in Lake
Erie  (NMFS, 2009a). Walleye is a very important
recreational fishery in all the Great Lakes with the
exception of Lake Superior, where harvests are
mostly tribal (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
2007).
   Walleye remain in the darkness of bottom
waters during the day, emerging at night to feed
on bullheads, freshwater drum, yellow perch, and
other small fish. Walleye and yellow perch have a
special relationship that allows effective population
control of both species. While adult walleye feed on
the smaller yellow perch, adult perch feed on the
young of walleye (Mecozzi, 1989). This fish averages
only one to three pounds in size, but is a popular
commercial and recreational fishing target because
it is considered one  of the best-tasting freshwater
                      1,200
                      1,000
                   -8   soo
                       600
                   I
                       400
                       200
                          1971                   1981                  1991                   2001       2006
                                                                Year
                                                     —  Walleye   — Lake Trout

             Figure 7-9.  U.S. walleye and lake trout commercial landings from the Great Lakes in pounds, 1971 -2006 (NMFS,
             2009a).
     196

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species (University of Wisconsin Sea Grant
Institute, 2010). Walleye reproduction is largely
driven by uncontrollable environmental events (i.e.,
spring weather patterns and alewife abundance);
however, degraded spawning and nursery habitats
in some areas due to the increased human use of
nearshore and watershed environments also impede
reproduction (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
2007).

Preyfish Fisheries
  Predator-prey relationships are important to the
maintenance of healthy fisheries, but these relations
have been changing for several decades throughout
the  Great Lakes. Preyfish are characterized
as both pelagic (water-column dwelling)  and
demersal (bottom-dwelling) species that prey on
invertebrates their entire lives. Invasive prey species
such as alewives and smelt were first found in the
Great Lakes in the 1920s, but were widespread
by the 1940s, causing vast changes in ecosystem
dynamics. In the 1990s, the invasive round goby
was introduced, likely via ballast water, and its
populations have been increasing in several of the
Great Lakes (Glassner-Shwayder,  2000). Alewives,
smelt, and gobies  outcompete native preyfish
species (e.g., lake herring, chubs, sculpins) for food
and spawning habitat. In fact, fishery managers
introduced non-native salmon species to the
lakes in the 1950s in  order to curtail the  growing
populations of invasive preyfish (Environment
Canada and U.S. EPA, 2007).
Commercial fishermen bring in a harvest near Duluth,
MN (courtesy of U.S. EPA).
   Despite the negative impacts of non-native
preyfish species, they have become an important
component of the Great Lakes ecosystem and even
the commercial fishing industry. From 2003 to
2006, the preyfish commercial fishery in the Great
Lakes (i.e., chubs, cisco-herring, and rainbow smelt)
generated over $7-3 million in ex-vessel revenues.
The alewife supported a fishery of 50 million
pounds in the late 1970s, and the bloater chubs
fishery is currently the second-largest in the Great
Lakes (NMFS, 2009a). Over the past several  years,
landings of non-native preyfish have decreased
throughout all the lakes (Figure 7-10), with the
exception of Lake Superior (Environment Canada
and U.S. EPA, 2007).
   Preyfish populations are under pressure from
predation by salmon, lake trout, and other
predators and from the population collapse of
a major food source, the deepwater amphipod
Diporeia (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
2007). The effects of the Diporeia population
collapse on the alewife population have been
particularly significant, resulting in the near
elimination of the commercial harvest of this
species by the early 1990s. As a result of these
decreases in preyfish populations, fishery managers
have implemented a variety of harvest restrictions.

Stresses
   To varying degrees, fishery resources in the
Great Lakes have been impacted by three major
disturbances:  non-native species introductions,
overfishing, and habitat degradation (GLFC,  2008).
Non-native species introductions are extensive
throughout the Great Lakes via shipping activities
(e.g., ballast waters, ship hulls), unintentional
releases from aquaculture and aquariums, and
stocking efforts by fishery managers. Impacts
associated with non-native species introductions
are varied; this differentiation is also reflected
in the terminology used for non-native species.
According to the 1999  Executive Order 13112
(64 FR 6183), invasive species are those that  cause
harm to ecosystems, economies, or human health;
other terms applied to this class of species that
do not cause harm include "non-native," "alien,"
 o
 o
O
o
"ro
O
                                                                                                          197

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T5
o
O
O
or "introduced" (NISC, 2008). Whereas some
invasives have had severe negative impacts on the
Great Lakes ecosystem, as in the case of zebra and
quagga mussels, non-native species have also played
beneficial roles. Stocked salmon have curtailed the
growth of alewife populations (a non-native prey
species that competes with its native counterpart)
and reinstituted important predator-prey
relationships while creating new recreational fishing
opportunities (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
2007). Another invasive species, the parasitic sea
lamprey, greatly contributed to the collapse of lake
trout populations in the Great Lakes. The lamprey
has a suction-cup like mouth and sharp teeth that
are used to  feed on the tissue and blood of the host
fish, resulting in death from either direct blood loss
or secondary infections.
   Decades of overfishing, which also contributed
to the sharp decrease in lake trout populations, have
undermined the health offish stocks throughout
the Great Lakes. Commercial fishing in the
Great Lakes began in the 1820s and increased
by about 20% annually until peaking in the late
1800s (Environment Canada and U.S. EPA,
1995). Serious efforts at harvest controls were not
instituted until the creation of the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission (GLFC) in the mid-1950s;
however, inadequate stock assessments, poor
monitoring, and overall noncompliance limited the
efficacy of regulatory measures implemented by the
GLFC.
   Since the arrival of the Europeans, vital fish
habitats, such as  wetlands and streams, have been
degraded by agriculture, damming, urbanization,
shoreline development, and invasive species
(especially the common carp and purple loosestrife)
(Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, 2007).
Two-thirds of Great Lakes coastal wetlands have
been lost since colonialization; the particularly
extensive loss in Hamilton Harbor is just one
example. Wetlands have been filled or drained for
agriculture and development, polluted by excess
nutrient deposition and urban runoff, and degraded
by dredging for commercial and recreational water
traffic. Common carp damage habitat by uprooting
coastal vegetation and reducing water clarity during
feeding. Purple loosestrife, a tall aquatic plant
from Eurasia, can cause wetlands to  dry out, which
impacts the survival of native species (Environment
Canada, 1995).
                  i/i
                  1
                       10,000
                       8,000
                       6,000
                       4,000
                       2,000
                                                                                                        2006
                                                                  Year

                                             —  Chubs   — Cisco-Herring  —  Rainbow Smelt

             Figure 7-10.  U.S. preyfish commercial landings from the Great Lakes in pounds, 1971-2006 (NMFS, 2009a).
     198

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Fisheries Management
   Governance of fisheries in the Great Lakes is
complicated by the multiple and often overlapping
jurisdictions in this area. For example, fisheries
in Lake Superior are subject to the regulatory
authority of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Ontario province, the Chippewa Ottawa
Resources Authority, and the Great Lakes Indian
Fish and Wildlife Commission (Read, 2003). In
recognition of the potentially negative impact of
multiple authorities regulating a single fishery,  the
GLFC was formed under the jurisdiction of the
International Joint Commission to manage and
promote the health of the Great Lakes fisheries.
   The five Great Lakes committees within the
GLFC set annual harvest limits for each lake. Great
Lakes fishery managers largely rely on harvest
limits, fishing licenses, area and time restrictions,
and gear restrictions. Particularly unique to fishery
management in the Great Lakes are the numerous
fish stocking programs, including trout, salmon,
sturgeon, herring, muskellunge, walleye, and yellow
perch. Fishery stocking is under the jurisdiction of
the States and ministries of the Great Lakes, as well
as the Province of Ontario.
Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   Fishing in the Great Lakes region is a way of life
and a valued recreational and commercial activity
for many people. To protect citizens from the risks
of eating contaminated fish, six of the eight states
bordering the Great Lakes had advisories, for a total
of 29 fish consumption advisories in effect during
2006 for the waters and connecting waters of the
Great Lakes. During 2006, every Great Lake had at
least one advisory, and advisories covered 100% of
the Great Lakes shoreline that year (Figure 7-11).
Michigan, which borders four of the five Great
Lakes and encompasses four of the six connecting
waterbodies, issued the largest number (13) offish
consumption advisories (U.S. EPA, 2007c).

.1
                                                            Number of Consumption
                                                            Advisories per USGS
                                                            Cataloging Unit in 2006
Figure 7-11. The number offish consumption advisories in effect in 2006 for the U.S. Great Lakes waters (U.S. EPA,
2007c).
                                                                                                         199

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           Great Lakes fish consumption advisories were
         issued for six pollutants: mercury, mirex, chlordane,
         dioxins, PCBs, and DDT. All of the advisories
         listed PCBs, and one-half (52%) also listed dioxins
         (Figure 7-12). Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and
         Lake Huron were under advisory for at least four
         pollutants each in 2006 (Table 7-1); however, some
         of the advisories were of limited geographic extent,
         and advisories in most locations were applied
         primarily to larger, older individual fish high in the
         food web (Table 7-2) (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
          PCBs

         Dioxin
    c
    A
    .£   Mercury

    | Chlordane
    o
    U     Mirex I

          DDT
                   10   20   30  40   SO   60   70   80   90  100
                          Percent of Fish Advisories
                         Listed for Each Contaminant
                                Beach Advisories and Closures

                                How many notification actions were reported for the
                                Great Lakes between 2004 and 2008?
                                  Table 7-3 presents the number of total and
                                monitored beaches, as well as the number and
                                percentage of monitored beaches affected by
                                notification actions from 2004 to 2008, for the
                                U.S. Great Lakes (summed for New York's Great
                                Lakes beaches, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois,
                                Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan).
                                Data from New York are not included for 2004
                                and 2005, limiting comparison with the 2006 to
                                2008 information. Nevertheless,  the percentage of
                                beaches with notifications remained nearly constant
                                between 2004 and 2005- The number of total and
                                monitored beaches decreased for the whole region
                                between 2006 and 2008, but the percentage of
                                beaches affected by notification actions remained
                                constant (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual national and
                                state summaries are available on EPA's Beaches
                                Monitoring site: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
                                beaches/seasons/.
         Figure 7-12. Pollutants responsible for fish consumption
         advisories in Great Lakes waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
         Note: An advisory can be issued for more than one
         contaminant, so percentages may add up to more than 100.
Table 7- 1 . Fish Advisories Issued for Contaminants in Each of the Great Lakes (U.S. EPA, 2007c)
Great Lakes
Lake Superior
Lake Michigan
Lake Huron
Lake Erie
Lake Ontario
PCBs
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Dioxins
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Mercury
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Chlordane DDT
Yes
Yes Yes
Yes
Mirex
Yes
          Table 7-2. Species and/or groups under fish consumption advisory in 2006 for at least one of the
          Great Lakes or their connecting waters (U.S. EPA, 2007c)
            American eel
            Bluegill sunfish
            Bowfin
            Brown bullhead
            Brown trout
            Burbot
            Channel catfish
Chinook salmon
Chub
Coho salmon
Common carp
Freshwater drum
Gizzard shad
Lake herring
Lake sturgeon
Lake trout
Lake whitefish
Largemouth bass
Longnose sucker
Northern pike
Rainbow trout
Redhorse
Rock bass
Sheepshead
Siscowet trout
Smallmouth bass
Smelt
Splake trout
Steelhead trout
Sturgeon
Walleye
White bass
White perch
White sucker
Whitefish
Yellow perch
200

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Table 7-3. Beach Notification Actions, Great Lakes, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches
affected by notification actions
2004a
766
514
207
40%
2005b
852
525
203
39%
2006
1,441
566
276
49%
2007
1,446
551
276
50%
2008
1,379
542
269
50%
 a Data from Pennsylvania and New York are not included for this yean New York data are available for the entire state; however;
   the data do not differentiate between Great Lakes and coastal beaches for 2004 and 2005.
 b Data from New York are not included for this year because coastal and Great Lakes beaches were not differentiated.
What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 7-4 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored Great Lakes beaches affected by
various pollution sources for 2007- Unidentified
and unknown pollution sources together affected
over 90% of Great Lakes beaches. Other significant
contributors to notification actions included storm-
related runoff (19%), wildlife (14%), and non-
storm related runoff (8%) (U.S. EPA, 2009d).

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Most (80%) of beach advisories for the Great
Lakes in 2007 lasted either 1 day (65%) or 2
days (15%). Notifications lasting 3 to 7 days
comprised 17%  of all advisories, and the other 3%
of notifications were of the 8- to 30-day duration
(U.S. EPA, 2009d). For more information on
state beach closures, please visit  the EPA's Beaches
Web site: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/
beaches  index.cfm.
 i-
Table 7-4. Reasons for Beach Advisories,
Great Lakes, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Reason for
Advisories
Other and/or
unidentified sources
No known pollution
sources
Storm-related runoff
Wildlife
Non-storm related
runoff
Septic system
leakage
Sanitary/combined
sewer overflow
Sewer line leak or
break
Agricultural runoff
Concentrated animal
feeding operations
Boat discharge
Publicly owned
treatment works
Pollution sources not
investigated
Total Number
of Monitored
   Beaches
   Affected
     306
     102
     73
     44

     27

     23

      10

      9
      9

      6
      6
 Percent
 of Total
Monitored
 Beaches
 Affected
   57%

   35%

   19%
   14%
   8%

   5%

   4%

   2%

   2%
   2%

    1%
    1%

  <  1%
                                                        Note: A single beach advisory may have multiple pollution
                                                        sources.
                                                                                                                     o
                                                                                                                     o
                                                                                                                     O
                                                                                                                     O
                                                                                                                     "ro
                                                                                                                     O
Shoreline at Petoskey State Park, Lake Michigan, Ml
(courtesy of NOAA).
                                                                                                              201

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                  Summary
                         Although the Great Lakes has an extensive monitoring network with respect to
                       objectives, design, and approaches, Great Lakes monitoring is not directly comparable
                       with monitoring done by the NCA for estuarine and coastal waters. For example, the
                       assessments conducted by SOLEC apply in most cases to the whole of the Great Lakes,
                       rather than only nearshore or coastal conditions. Although a nearshore framework
                       and suite of indicators have been evolving, this is a relatively recent development.
                       Additionally, GLNPO monitoring sites are at locations selected according to best scientific
                       judgment to represent the overall condition of the Great Lakes, whereas the NCA survey
                       monitoring sites are at locations selected using a probabilistic sampling design to yield
                       direct, representative estimates of overall condition with known levels of uncertainty.
                       Consequently, coastal condition spatial estimates that are consistent and comparable with
                       those prepared for the marine coastal regions surveyed by NCA cannot be calculated for
                       the Great Lakes. Instead, the best professional judgment of knowledgeable scientists was
                       used to assess the overall status of eight ecosystem components in relation to established
                       endpoints or ecosystem objectives, when available.
                         The Great Lakes were rated fair to poor using available assessment information. Future
                       assessments of coastal condition will use the NCCR series as a baseline for the overall
                       health of the Great Lakes to determine if conditions improve in the future as a result of
                       management and control strategies. The results of these future assessments will be used as a
                       basis to compare and integrate the overall condition of the Great Lakes with other coastal
                       resources in this report. NCA strategies and monitoring of nearshore areas of the Great
                       Lakes is currently being implemented by U.S.  EPA Region 5, which will allow for the next
                       NCCA reporting on the Great Lakes to be comparable to the findings and trends assessed
                       for the marine coastal areas.
                         The vastness of the Great Lakes watershed and the consequent diversity of its ecosystems
                       allowed this area to be home to numerous unique fish species. However, non-native species
                       invasions, habitat degradation, and overfishing have led to the collapse and diminution
                       of many commercially valuable fishery species. Lake trout have recovered after nearing
                       extinction in the 1950s,  although  commercial fishing for this species is now sustainable
                       only in Lake Superior. Walleye stocks have also shown signs of recovery after a population
                       collapse in the mid-1990s. Despite improvements in fisheries management,  commercial
                       landings have continued to decrease since  the 1970s.
                         Contamination in the Great Lakes has affected human uses of these waters. The
                       data indicate that fish tissue contamination is decreasing over time; however, mercury
                       contamination is still a problem in many areas. In 2006, every Great Lake had at least one
                       fish consumption advisory, and advisories  covered 100% of the Great Lakes shoreline that
                       year. All of these advisories were issued for PCB contamination (alone or in  conjunction
                       with other contaminants). In addition, 49% of the region's monitored beaches were closed
                       or under  advisory for some period of time during 2006. Elevated bacteria levels in the
                       region's coastal waters were primarily responsible for the beach closures and  advisories.
202

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                   Southeastern Alaska
           As shown in Figure 8-1, the overall condition of
         Southeastern Alaska's coastal waters is rated good,
         with an overall condition score of 5-0. The water
         quality, sediment quality, coastal habitat, and fish
         tissue contaminants indices are rated good, and the
         benthic index  for this region could not be evaluated.
         Figure  8-2 provides a summary of the percentage of
         Southeastern Alaska coastal area in good, fair, poor,
         or missing categories for each index and component
         indicator. This assessment is based on environmental
         stressor and response data collected from 42 locations
         (three water and sediment samples were lost, resulting
         in only 39 sample sets used to assess water quality
         and sediment  condition) along Southeastern Alaska's
         coastline in 2004. The NCCR III presented an
         assessment of coastal waters in Southcentral Alaska;
         therefore, the results of the two surveys cannot be
         compared for changes in condition.
         ''
Please refer to Chapter I for
information about how these
assessments were made, the outpoints
used to develop the rating for each
index and component indicator, and
limitations of the available data.
                            Overall Condition
                            Southeastern Alaska
                            Coastal Waters (5.0)
                            Good    Fair

                           I Water Quality Index (5)

                           | Sediment Quality Index (5)

                            Benthic Index (Missing)

                            Coastal Habitat Index (5)
I                            Fish Tissue Contaminants
                            Index (5)
                                                 Water Quality Index

                                                      Nitrogen (DIN)

                                                     Phosphorus(DIP)

                                                        Chlorophyll a

                                                       Water Clarity

                                                     Dissolved Oxygen

                                              Sediment Quality Index

                                                     Sediment Toxicity

                                                 Sediment Contaminants

                                             Total Organic Carbon (TOC) |

                                                      Benthic Index
                                                         Fish Tissue
                                                 Contaminants Index
                                                                       20     40     60     80
                                                                         Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                               100
                                                                Good   Fair
                                                                             Poor
                                                                                     Missing
         Figure 8-1. The overall status of Southeastern Alaska's
         coastal waters is rated good (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Figure 8-2.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
ranking for all indices and component indicators—
Southeastern Alaska region (U.S. EPA/NCA).

   The sheer scale and geographic complexity
of Alaska's shoreline dictate that comprehensive
assessments of its coastal resources are inherently
difficult. Alaska's marine shoreline of approximately
34,000 miles constitutes more than 50% of total
U.S. coastline miles, and the state's coastal bays and
estuaries have a total surface area of 33,211 square
miles. Much of the southeastern coast of Alaska
is very convoluted, containing hundreds of bays,
estuaries, coves,  fiords, and other coastal features; it
is estimated to contain approximately 63% of the
total Alaskan coastline (Sharma, 1979). The Gulf
of Alaska LME is located offshore of this region.
Southeastern Alaska, also known as the Alaskan
panhandle, encompasses several national parks and
monuments,  as well as the largest national forest
in the United States, the Tongass National Forest.
The region is ecologically unique: a lush temperate
rain forest with a coastline that is buffered from
204

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the open ocean by an extensive chain of islands.
It is home to a vast array of terrestrial and marine
wildlife, including black and brown bears, mink,
waterfowl, several salmon species, and various
marine mammal species.
   Alaska's coastal resources are not subject to
population and development pressures to the same
extent as the rest of the U.S. coastline because of
the state's low population density, the distance
between most of its coastline and major urban or
industrial areas, the lack of road access to most
coastal areas, and its limited agriculture activities.
Consequently, some contaminant concentrations
have been measured as having  levels significantly
lower than those in the rest of the coastal United
States, although localized sources of trace metal and
organic contaminants such as PCBs and mercury
exist in Alaska (AMAP, 2010; Landers et al., 2010).
Indeed, the principal input of organic contaminants
is from global sources; however, concentrations  of
trace metals and organic contaminants in marine
fish from Alaska are low and not a public health
concern according to studies conducted by Alaskan
authorities (Alaska H&SS, 2010). Nevertheless,
Southeastern Alaska includes several population
centers, the state's capital city of Juneau, and
the port city of Ketchikan, which is a popular
destination for cruise ships. Large-scale timber and
fishery industries also inflict pressures on the coastal
resources of this area.
   Between 1980 and 2006, the population of
coastal counties along the Alaskan Coast increased
72% from 331,000 to 569,000 people (Figure
8-3), and the area experienced the second-largest
rate of population  increase of any coastal region
in the entire United States. However, Alaska has
a relatively small population and a large coastal
area, so the population density is low, and Alaska
is home to less than 1% of the total U.S.  coastal
population.  Population  density has increased from
approximately 0.9  persons per square mile in 1980
to 1.5 persons per square mile in 2006 (Figure 8-4)
(NOEP, 2010).
                                                        600
•o
c
U
            1980      1990     2000      2006     2008
                            Year

    Figure 8-3. Population of coastal counties in Alaska,
    1980-2008 (NOEP 2010).
   yf

The NCA monitoring data used in
this assessment are based on single-
day measurements collected at sites
throughout the U.S. coastal waters
(excluding the Great Lakes) during a 9-
to 12-week period during the summer.
Each site was sampled once during the
collection  period of 2003 through 2006.
Data were not collected during other
time periods.
                                                                .O
                                                                 O
                                                                O

                          Population Density by County
                          (people/square mile) 2006
                           I—I  0.1-1.2
                           •  1.3-3.3
                           CH  3.4-11.3
                           •  I 1.4-165
                                                      Figure 8-4.  Population density in Alaska's coastal
                                                      counties in 2006 (NOER 2010).
                                                                                                            205

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<
"5
.o
^
o
O
1
           The scenario for Alaska's coastal aquatic resources
         is not one of existing degradation from agricultural,
         industrialization, and urbanization pollution
         drivers, but one of possible large-scale changes due
         to climate change and future resource development
         (AMAP, 2009, 2010; State of Alaska, 2010). Ocean
         acidification refers to the decrease in ocean pH
         due to the uptake of excess carbon dioxide, which
         results primarily from burning of fossil fuels and
         other human activities, such as cement production
         and deforestation. Human carbon dioxide emissions
         contributed 34 tons  to the atmosphere in 2009
         (Global Carbon Project, 2010; Friedlingstein et al.,
         2010). Monitoring for ocean acidification has not
         been a component of the NCA in Alaska's coastal
         oceans, where the effects of ocean acidification may
         be occurring more rapidly than in other regions
         (Bates et al., 2009; Fabry et al., 2009; Feely et al.,
         2010).
                   The sampling conducted in the
                   EPA NCA survey has been designed
                   to estimate the percent of coastal
                   area (nationally or in a region) in
                   varying conditions and is displayed as
                   pie diagrams. Many of the figures in
                   this report illustrate environmental
                   measurements made at specific
                   locations (colored dots on maps);
                   however, these dots (color) represent
                   the value of the index specifically at the
                   time of sampling. Additional sampling
                   would be required to define temporal
                   variability and to confirm environmental
                   condition at specific locations.
   Large-scale resource development of Alaska's
oil, gas, and mineral reserves is likely to occur in
the future as world resources grow more scarce.
A recent USGS report (Bird et al., 2008) placed
Arctic Alaska as the second-ranked province likely
to contain major deposits of undiscovered oil, gas,
and natural gas liquids. Alaska's coastal regions also
contain potentially significant mineral resources,
such as chromium, coal, copper, "oil-shale," silver,
and zinc (Alaska DNR, 2010).
   It is crucial that future Alaska NCCA designs
take into account the overall focus for Alaska
waters. This focus includes developing a current
status for much of Alaska's "pristine" aquatic
resources for future reference. The National
Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil
Spill and Offshore Drilling found the scientific
understanding of environmental conditions in the
Arctic to be inadequate (National Commission on
the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore
Drilling, 2011). Understanding the primary
drivers for the region's potential aquatic resource
degradation, which differ from the contiguous
populated United States, is also important in order
to apply the correct indicators to  assess condition
and trends resulting from climate change and future
large-scale resource development. An important
consideration is that a rapidly evolving climate may
be presenting us with an ecosystem already in a
state of flux (Wang et al., 2010).
Coastal Monitoring Data-
Status of Coastal Condition
   The geographic expanse of Alaska, the reduced
sampling window in the Arctic regions, and the
unique fiscal and logistical challenges of sampling
the state's coastal resources (which are mostly
inaccessible by road) necessitated a comprehensive
federal-state sampling design. In 2001, under
the NCA program, the Alaska DEC and EPA
Region 10 developed a design to assess all of
the state's coastal resources by monitoring 250
sites throughout the state during five phases—
Southcentral Alaska, Southeastern Alaska, the
206

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Aleutian Islands, the Bering Sea, and the Beaufort
Sea. In 2005, the Alaska DEC established the
Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program to
conduct these marine surveys. As of 2012, the
Southcentral Alaska, Southeastern Alaska, Aleutian
Islands, and Upper Chukchi Sea phases have been
surveyed (Figure 8-5). The ability to complete the
remaining phases (i.e. Bering Sea, Lower Chukchi
Sea, and Beaufort Sea) and begin a repeat sampling
for long-term trend analysis remains uncertain due
to funding constraints. Before this collaboration
between Alaska's resource agencies and the EPA, the
Alaska DEC routinely assessed only about 1% of
the state's coastal resources, focusing its efforts on
water bodies known  or suspected to be impaired
(Alaska DEC, 1999). In June 2005, the Alaska
DEC released its Water Quality Monitoring and
Assessment Strategy and Environmental Monitoring &
Assessment Program Implementation Strategy to guide
its stewardship of Alaska's marine and freshwater
resources  (Alaska DEC, 2005a, 2005b).
   In 2004, Alaska's southeastern coast (Alaskan
Province)  was the second portion of the state to be
assessed by the NCA because of the importance of
this area's  major estuarine resources, high cruise-
ship use, and value to local and state economies.
Because of the long distances between sites and the
area that needed to be assessed, the surveys were
conducted using a large (100-foot), oceangoing
research vessel equipped with a powered skiff
for shallow-water work. Depths ranged from
approximately 60 to 1,500 feet for the 39 sites used
to calculate this report's water quality and sediment
indices.
.O
 O
O

                                     Alaska Monitoring and Assessment
                                              Program (AKMAP)
                                           NCA Biogeographical Provinces
                           Upper Chukchi Sea
                             Coastal Survey
                               2010-201 I
             Beaufort Sea Coastal Survey
                  Not yet scheduled.
                    Lower Chukchi Sea
                      Coastal Survey
                     Not yet scheduled.
               Bering Sea Coastal Survey
                   Not yet scheduled.  	
                Aleutian Islands
                   2006-2007
                                                                            Southeastern Alaska
                                                                                  2004
                                                          Southcentral Alaska
                                                                2002
Figure 8-5.  Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program survey status (Alaska DEC, Division ofWater).
                                                                                                            207

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T5
<
"5
.o
^
o
O
1
                   Water Quality Index
                The water quality index for the coastal waters
             of Southeastern Alaska is rated good. This index
             was developed based on  measurement of five
             component indicators: DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,
             water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. Most (95%) of
             the coastal area was rated good, with the remainder
             of the area rated fair (Figure 8-6).  Fair conditions
             were largely due to low water clarity measurements
             or moderate dissolved oxygen concentrations,
             which are most likely the result of naturally
             occurring conditions, and not human influences.
             For example, low water clarity measurements are
             associated with glacial silt input by nearby glaciers
             or river systems draining glaciated watersheds.

             Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                Southeastern Alaska's  coastal waters are rated
             good for DIN and DIP concentrations, with 97%
             of the coastal area rated good and  3% rated fair
             for both indicators. These rating were based on
             the NCA DIN and DIP cutpoints for the western
             United States (see Chapter 1). Although these
cutpoints have been adjusted to reflect the effects of
West Coast regional upwelling events, further work
is needed to determine if these or alternate cutpoint
values are the best to apply to Southeastern Alaska's
coastal waters. The 3% of the area rated fair should
be considered a provisional assessment. Given the
low human population density in Southeastern
Alaska, the fair values may reflect an upper range of
natural conditions, rather than human influences.

Chlorophyll a
   Chlorophyll a concentrations in Southeastern
Alaska's coastal waters are rated good, with 100%
of the coastal area rated good for this component
indicator.

Water Clarity
   Water clarity in the coastal waters of the
Southeastern Alaska region is rated good, with
5% and 3% of the coastal area, respectively, rated
fair and poor for this component indicator. Water
clarity was rated poor at a sampling site if light
penetration at 1  meter was less than 10% of surface
illumination.
              Southeastern Alaska Water Quality Index
                   Site Criteria: Number of component
                   indicators in poor or fair condition.
                    • Good = No more than I is fair
                    O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or more are fair
                    • Poor = 2 or more are poor
                    O Missing
             Figure 8-6. Water quality index data for Southeastern Alaska coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
    208

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                                                                                                                  ,
Dissolved Oxygen
   Dissolved oxygen conditions in the coastal waters
of Southeastern Alaska are rated good, with 95% of
the coastal area rated good and 5% rated fair for this
component indicator. Although conditions in  the
Southeastern Alaska region appear to be generally
good for dissolved oxygen, the measured values
reflect surface conditions and do not include natural
hypoxic conditions in the deep fjords sampled.
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index for the coastal waters
of Southeastern Alaska is rated good, with 8% of
the coastal area rated fair (Figure 8-7). The sediment
quality index was calculated based on measurements
of three component indicators: sediment toxicity
sediment contaminants, and sediment TOC.

Sediment Toxicity
   Sediment toxicity for Southeastern Alaska's
coastal waters is rated good, with none of the coastal
area rated poor. Sediment toxicity was determined
using a static, 10-day acute toxicity test with the
amphipod Ampelisca abdita. Although use of
Ampelisca standardizes the sediment toxicity test
within the EMAP/NCA process, this test may or
may not reflect the actual response of the specific
benthic organisms indigenous to Southeastern
Alaska. The State of Alaska has yet to select specific
benthic species for use in sediment toxicity studies,
but it considers the NCA work important in
supporting future efforts to develop a sediment
toxicity test for Alaska.
           Guidelines for Assessing
           Sediment Contamination (Long
           etal., 1995)
           ERM (Effects Range Median)—
           Determined for each chemical as the
           50th percentile  (median) in a database
           of ascending concentrations associated
           with adverse biological effects.
           ERL (Effects Range Low)—
           Determined values for each chemical
           as the  I Oth percentile in a database of
           ascending concentrations associated
           with adverse biological effects.
                                                                                                                  o
                                                                                                                  Q.
.O
 O
O

 Southeastern Alaska Sediment Quality Index
           Site Criteria: Number and condition of
           component indicators.
            • Good = None is poor, and sediment
                     contaminants is good
            O Fair  = None is poor, and sediment
                     contaminants is fair
            • Poor = I or more are poor
            O Missing
Figure 8-7. Sediment quality index data for Southeastern Alaska coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                           209

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         Sediment Contaminants
           The coastal waters of Southeastern Alaska
         are rated good for the sediment contaminants
         component indicator, with approximately 2% of
         the coastal area rated poor and approximately 3%
         of the area rated fair. It should be noted that this
         evaluation of sediment contamination excluded
         nickel because the ERM value for this metal has a
         low reliability for areas of the West Coast, where
         high natural crustal concentrations of nickel exist
         (Long et al., 1995)- A study of metal concentrations
         in cores collected along the West Coast determined
         the range of historic background concentrations of
         nickel to be 35—70 ppm (Lauenstein et al., 2000),
         which brackets the value of the ERM (51-6 ppm).
         Some researchers have also suggested that West
         Coast crustal concentrations for mercury may be
         naturally elevated; however, no conclusive evidence
         is available to support this suggestion. Therefore,
         mercury data were not excluded from this
         assessment of Southeastern Alaska's coastal waters.
         In addition, only one exceedance was counted if
         a site exceeded the ERL for low molecular weight
         PAHs, high molecular weight PAHs, and/or total
         PAHs to ensure that the analysis was not biased by
         PAHs.

         Sediment TOC
           The coastal waters of Southeastern Alaska are
         rated good for the sediment TOC component
         indicator, with 11% of the area rated poor, 26%
         rated fair, and 63% rated good.
      Benthic Index
   The benthic index for the coastal waters of
Southeastern Alaska could not be evaluated.
Although several efforts are underway and indices
of benthic community condition have been
developed for some regions of the West Coast (e.g.,
Smith et al., 1998), there is currently no benthic
community index applicable for Southeastern
Alaska. In lieu of a benthic index for Southeastern
Alaska, the deviation of species  richness from an
estimate of expected species richness was used as
an approximate indicator of the condition of the
benthic community. This approach requires that
species richness  be predicted from salinity, and,  in
the case of the Southeastern Alaska survey data,  the
regression was not significant.
      Coastal Habitat Index
   The coastal habitat index for Alaska is rated
good. Although estimates of habitat loss are
available for Alaska as a whole, data were not
available to correspond with the geographic region
sampled by the NCA survey (i.e., Southeastern
Alaska); therefore, overall trends for the whole state
are presented. The Alaska coast region experienced
a loss of 900 acres (0.04%) of coastal wetlands from
1990 to 2000 (Dahl, 2010), and the statewide,
long-term, average decadal wetlands loss rate is
0.01%. Arctic coastal wetlands may be especially
vulnerable to  climate change. Average annual
erosion rates in some coastal areas of northern
Alaska have increased from 20 feet per year in the
1950s to 45 feet  per year in the mid-2000s (Jones
et al., 2009).
        The Alaskan hermit crab, Pagurus ochotensis, is common
        throughout Southeastern Alaska (courtesy of Jan Haaga,
        NOAA).
                                                                   Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
                                                                The fish tissue contaminants index for the coastal
                                                             waters of Southeastern Alaska is rated good, with
                                                             6% of the stations where fish were caught rated fair
                                                             and none of the stations rated poor (Figure 8-8).
210

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 Southeastern Alaska Fish Tissue Contaminants Quality Index

            Site Criteria: EPA guidance concentration
            O Good = Below guidance range
            O Fair  = Falls within guidance range
            • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
              Fair
               \j/o
          O
                  Good
Figure 8-8. Fish tissue contaminants index data for Southeastern Alaska coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Gulf of Alaska and
East Bering Sea LMEs
   Alaska is surrounded by five sub-arctic LMEs:
Gulf of Alaska, East Bering Sea, West Bering Sea,
Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea (Figure 8-9)- The
total commercial fishery landings in all five of
Alaska's LMEs generated over $4.8 billion in total
ex-vessel revenues (preprocessing value) from 2003
to 2006 (NMFS, 2010). This summary focuses
on two of these LMEs, the East Bering Sea LME
and the Gulf of Alaska LME, in order to provide
an update of the information presented in the
NCCR III. The East Bering Sea LME is considered
to have moderately high productivity based on
estimates of primary production (photoplankton).
The ability of many East Bering Sea LME juvenile
fish and crabs to reach harvest size is linked
to decadal-scale patterns of climate variability
(Minobe and Mantua, 1999). Like the East Bering
Sea LME, the Gulf of Alaska LME is sensitive to
climate variations on time scales  ranging from
years to decades. These variations and large-scale
atmospheric and oceanographic conditions have
an effect on the overall productivity of the LME,
including plankton production and plankton
species composition. The Gulf of Alaska LME is
considered a moderately productive ecosystem with
nutrient-rich waters that support rich biological
diversity.
                                                    Sea otter (courtesy of NPS).
                                                                                                        21 I

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                  I I Relevant Large Marine
                    Ecosystems
                  I I Associated U.S.
                    land masses
             Figure 8-9. Alaska is surrounded by five LMEs (NOAA,
             201 Ob).
               The groundfish (bottom-dwelling fish) complex
             (mostly pollock, halibut, cod, and sablefish) is the
             most important fishery in terms of both landings
             and revenue for Alaskan commercial fishermen,
             generating nearly $2.9 billion in total ex-vessel
             revenues from 2003 through 2006. Walleye pollock
             dominates this group, with harvests worth over
             $1.1 billion during the same period. The other top
             fisheries are for salmon (all species, combined),
             with total commercial ex-vessel revenues of nearly
             $1  billion from 2003 through 2006, and for crab
             (all species, combined), with revenues over $500
             million for this same period (NMFS, 2010). See
             Figure 8-10 for landing and revenues of the top
             commercial fisheries for Alaska. Fisheries within
             Alaskan LMEs are managed through a combination
             of international commissions, federal councils, and
             state and tribal agencies.
Alaska Groundfish Fisheries
   The groundfish complex is the most abundant
fishery resource off Alaskan LMEs, with a
combined biomass of more than 21.8 million
metric tons. About 76% of the biomass is found
in the East Bering Sea LME, with the remainder
in the Gulf of Alaska LME. From 2004 to 2006,
groundfish catches averaged nearly 2.2 million
metric tons, or about 10% of the total groundfish
biomass. The dominant species harvested were
walleye pollock (75%), Pacific cod (11%), yellowfin
sole (4%), Atka mackerel (3%), and rock sole
(2%) (NMFS, 2009b). In terms of commercial
fishing revenue, the top groundfish species are
walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), Pacific
halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), Pacific cod (Gadus
macro cephalus), and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria);
the discrepancy resulting from higher market prices
for these species. Walleye pollock catches are the
largest of any single species within the U.S. EEZ,
with average annual landings of over 1.5 million
metric tons and total revenues of $1.1 billion from
2003 through 2006  (see Figure 8-10). During this
same period, revenues from other top groundfish
fisheries, including Pacific halibut, Pacific cod,
and sablefish, were $697 million, $652 million,
and $424 million, respectively (see Figure 8-10)
(NMFS, 2010).
   As a species group, groundfish inhabit near-
bottom waters, with diets that include all sorts of
species of invertebrates and vertebrates, depending
on their role within the water column. These
fish are generally harvested for direct human
consumption, with various gear types. The North
Pacific Fisheries Management Council manages
Alaska groundfish fisheries within the U.S.
EEZ beyond state waters (0—3 miles), which are
managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and
Game. Pacific halibut is managed by a bilateral
treaty between the United States and Canada, and
through the recommendations of the International
Pacific Halibut Commission.
    212

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     7,000,000
      6,000,000
     5,000,000
  o
  S  4,000,000
  *
  £.
  (A
  .£  3,000,000
  •c
  I
     2,000,000
      1,000,000
                           Landings

                           Value

                                                                                            1,200
                                                                                            1,000
                                                                                            800
                                               600
                                              400
                                                                                            200
                                                    I
                                                    c
                                                    ID
                                                    O
                                                    3
                                                    Q.
                                                    O
                 Walleye   Pacific     Pacific
                  Pollock   Halibut     Cod
Sockeye   Sablefish    King     Snow      Pink
Salmon             Crab     Crab    Salmon
   Species
Figure 8-10. Top commercial fisheries for Alaska's LMEs: landings (metric tons) and value (million dollars) from 2003 to
2006 (NMFS, 2010).
                                                                                                                 .O
                                                                                                                  O
                                                                                                                 O

East Bering Sea LME Groundfish
   The groundfish FMP (NPFMC, 2010a) for the
East Bering Sea LME caps catch quotas for this
group at 2 million metric tons. In 2007, landings
for walleye pollock were 1.4 million metric tons
in the East Bering Sea and 44,500 metric tons
in the Aleutian Islands. Recent trends indicate
that the stock size has decreased since 2003 due
to poor survival rates of juveniles from 2001
through 2005 (NMFS, 2009b). However, surveys
conducted in 2010 show positive changes. The
2010 bottom trawl survey biomass estimate for
pollock was 3-75 million metric tons, up 64%
from the 2009 estimate, but still below average for
the 1987—2010 time series. The estimate from the
acoustic-trawl survey was 2.32 million metric tons,
up 151% from the 2009 estimate, but still below
        average for the 1979-2010 time series (NPFMC,
        201 Ob). Management of this fishery has produced
        differing results throughout Alaskan waters, with
        some areas, including the Bogoslof Island region
        and the Aleutian Islands, experiencing long-term
        fishery closures. On the other hand, the East
        Bering Sea stock is considered fully utilized and is
        well managed for bycatch and other issues, such as
        minimizing impacts on Steller sea lion populations
        and benthic habitats (NMFS, 2009b).
           Another management issue in this LME is the
        pollock fishery occurring in the "Donut Hole"
        area of the Bering Sea. This fishery has come
        under regulation with the implementation of the
        Convention on the Conservation and Management
        of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea
        in 1997-  Under this Convention, signed by the
                                                                                                          213

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             Russian Federation, Japan, Poland, China, the
             Republic of Korea, and the United States, a central
             Bering Sea pollock fishery has not been authorized
             because of low biomass of the Aleutian Basin
             pollock stock.
               Pollock, Atka mackerel,  and Pacific cod are
             carefully managed and regulated due to concerns
             about the impact of fisheries on endangered and
             threatened Steller sea lions, which feed on pollock.
             The impact offish removals on Steller sea lions
             has been  implicated as an important factor in
             the decrease of sea lion populations. NMFS has
             proposed some alternatives to disperse the intensity
             of pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries
             in the critical habitat of sea lions and has enacted
             additional prohibitions, including 10—20 nautical
             mile no-trawl zones around sea lion rookeries and
             haul-out  areas.

             Gulf of Alaska LME Groundfish
               Groundfish  abundance in the Gulf of Alaska
             LME in 2007 was 5-3 million metric tons,
             primarily due to increasing arrowtooth flounder
             biomass.  From 2004 to 2006, the recent average
             yield was just over 188,000 metric tons, with
             catches dominated by walleye pollock, flatfish,
             Pacific cod, and rockfish. The Pacific cod stock
             is considered healthy but decreasing and is fully
             utilized. Flatfishes in the  LME are in general
             very abundant  and underutilized due to halibut
             by-catch considerations, while rockfish stocks in
             general appear  to be in good condition due to
             precautionary management practices. In 2007,
             landings for walleye pollock from the Gulf of
             Alaska were approximately 68,000 metric tons.
             Pollock abundance in the Gulf of Alaska LME is
             at a low level and may be negatively impacted by
             increases  in predatory fish species in this LME.
Alaska Salmon
   Pacific salmon have played an important role
in the Gulf of Alaska and East Bering Sea LMEs.
For Alaska native peoples, salmon is an economic,
cultural,  and subsistence necessity (Betts and
Wolf, 1992). Subsistence use accounts for around
one million fish per year (Alaska DFG, 2005;
NPAFC, 2005).  Commercial salmon  harvests have
increased over the past three decades,  reaching an
all time high in 2005 at 22 million  metric tons of
salmon (NMFS,  2009b). Sockeye (Oncorhynchus
nerka)  is  the most lucrative salmon  species for
Alaska's LMEs, yielding over $604 million in
total commercial fishery revenues from 2003 to
2006 (see Figure 8-10). Sockeye salmon provide
a greater  dollar value than all other  commercially
caught salmon in Alaskan LMEs combined, usually
yielding between 60% and 70% of the ex-vessel
value of the annual salmon harvest. Bristol Bay
sockeye salmon in the East Bering Sea LME is the
most valuable wild-capture fishery for salmon in
the world. The second-largest commercial salmon
fishery is for pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha),
which  generated  about $130 million in total ex-
vessel revenues from 2003 to 2006  and has the
greatest landings in tons of all the salmon species
(see Figure 810), accounting for 40% to 70% of
the total  harvest  each year, mostly harvested by
purse seines.
   All five species of Alaskan salmon (pink, sockeye,
chum,  coho, and Chinook) are fully utilized, and
stocks  in  the Gulf of Alaska and East Bering Sea
LMEs  have rebuilt to near or beyond  previous high
levels. The factors contributing to the current high
abundance of Alaska salmon in the  two LMEs are
the following:
  • Pristine habitats with minimal  impacts from
    extensive development;
  • Generally favorable oceanic conditions that
    allow high survival of juveniles;
  • Improved fisheries management by state and
    federal agencies;
  • Elimination  of high-seas drift-net fisheries by
    foreign nations;
  • A well-managed hatchery program.
    214

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   Although commercial harvests of salmon have
been at high levels in recent years, the value of
the catch has decreased significantly. Along with
this general decrease in value is a rising trend in
total worldwide salmon production due to a rapid
growth of the worldwide production of farmed
salmon, in addition to the record catches of wild
salmon (including fish produced from hatcheries
and ocean ranching programs) in Alaskan, Japanese,
and Russian waters. Total world production from
capture and farmed fisheries in 2002 was about
1.8 million metric tons, including 983,000 metric
tons of farmed salmon. Over 70% of the farmed
production of salmon comes from Norway, Chile,
and the United Kingdom (Knapp, 2003).
   Since salmon are highly mobile species that
traverse international boundaries, management of
these fisheries is best conducted on a multilateral
basis. For example, management of some Gulf of
Alaska LME salmon fisheries has been negotiated
with Canada under the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty,
though some issues regarding transboundary
catches remain. On a broader international scale,
the need to manage the salmon harvest in the
high seas led to the establishment of the North
Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission in 1993-
Because salmon are anadromous (migratory)
and spend a portion of their lives in freshwater
streams, rivers, and lakes, the health of salmon
populations in Alaskan LMEs is directly influenced
by land management practices. The quality of
freshwater habitats determines the success of both
reproduction and initial rearing of juveniles.

Alaska Shellfish Fisheries
   Shellfish landings in 2006 generated an
estimated ex-vessel value of over $153 million,
with king and snow crab accounting for a majority
of this value, about $127 million  (NMFS, 2010).
Three king crab species (red,  blue, and golden or
brown), snow crab (C. opilio), and southern Tanner
crab have traditionally been harvested commercially
in Alaskan LMEs. Alaska crab resources are
considered to be fully utilized. In 2003 to 2006,
the recent average yields for king (10,537 metric
tons) and snow (14,711 metric tons) crabs were
below their respective sustainable yields (NMFS,
2009b). The harvest of snow crab has been lower
than the sustainable yield since 2000 due to low
abundance and lower harvest rates established
under a rebuilding plan. Almost all recent crab
production came from the East Bering Sea LME,
because almost all Gulf of Alaska king crab fisheries
have been closed since 1983-
   Because shellfish are generally landed within
the three-mile boundary of state waters, the Alaska
Department of Fish and Game is the primary
management authority for a majority of Alaska
shellfish resources. Seasonal closures are set to
avoid fishing during times when crabs are molting
or mating, and during soft-shell periods. These
regulations are in place both to protect the crab
resource and to maintain product quality.
 o
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A fishery manager measures the size of a red king crab
as part of a fishery assessment (courtesy of Alaska
Department of Fish and Game).
                                                                                                         215

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             Fishery Trends and Summary
               Figure 8-11 shows landings of the walleye
             pollock commercial fishery in Alaska from 1950 to
             2006 in metric tons. The walleye pollock fishery
             is displayed on a separate graph because catches
             of this species are too large to display on the same
             scale as the rest of Alaska's fisheries. Until 1975,
             harvests in the walleye pollock fishery were not
             reported on the individual species level. This fishery
             witnessed tremendous  growth in catches from
             the mid-1980s to 1990. Despite net decreases in
             the 1990s, landings in the walleye pollock fishery
             rebounded in 2000, with recent harvests above 1.5
             million metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
               Figure 8-12 displays landings  of the  other top
             commercial fisheries in Alaska from 1950 to 2006.
             In terms of landed tons, the Pacific cod fishery
             ranks second amongst  the top commercial species
             in Alaska. Harvests in this fishery peaked in the
             mid-1990s at just over 300,000 metric tons,
             decreased for several years, and despite  increasing
             again from 2000 to 2003, have been in general
             decrease for the past several years, with 2006
             landings at about 240,000 metric tons. Both of the
             top commercial salmon species (sockeye and pink)
currently have landings of about 100,000 metric
tons. This represents a significant decrease for pink
salmon, which peaked at 225,000 metric tons in
2004. Landings of Pacific halibut remain around
35,000 metric tons, where they have hovered for
the past two decades. Both crab fisheries (snow
and king) have had stabilized landings around
25,000 metric tons since 2000. Although no
species-specific data were available for the snow
crab fishery until 1980, this fishery has witnessed
a severe decrease in landings since peaking in the
early 1990s at about 150,000 metric tons. Landings
in the sablefish fishery have remained under 50,000
metric tons.
   Like other LMEs, Alaska's five LMEs are
economically important, generating over $4.8
billion from 2003 to 2006 (NMFS, 2010). In
addition to the large commercial  and recreational
fisheries that contribute to the Alaskan economy,
subsistence fisheries are important to  native
Alaskans. This cultural ecosystem service is
difficult to quantify in terms of money, but is
very important to the health, well being, and
cultural identity of native Alaskans. Tourism and
recreational fisheries are also important contributors
to the Alaskan economy.
c
^
j
Individual Top Species
(metric tons
1 ,6UU,UUU
1,400,000
1 ,200,000
1 ,000,000
800,000
600,000
400,000
200,000
0
1

KT\ 1
I ¥ \A /



7


T 	 1 	 1 	 "" 	 1 	 1 	 1 	 '
?SO I960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Year
                                	 Walleye Pollock

             Figure 8-1 I. Commercial landings of walleye pollock in Alaska from 1950 to 2006, metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
    2h

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      350,000

      300,000
a
1     250,000
JS
    •g o   200,000
          150,000
          100,000
           50,000
                1950           I960          1970           1980          1990          2000
                                                     Year
                   — Pacific Halibut   —  Pacific Cod     —  Sockeye Salmon   — Sablefish
                   — King Crab      —  Snow Crab     —  Pink Salmon

Figure 8-12. Landings of the top commercial fisheries in Alaska from 1950 to 2006, metric tons (NMFS, 2010).
                                                                                                               .O
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Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   In 2006, no consumption advisories were
in effect for chemical contaminants in fish and
shellfish species harvested in Alaskan waters (U.S.
EPA, 2007c).

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for
Alaska between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 8-1 presents the number of total beaches
and monitored beaches, as well as the number
and percentage of monitored beaches affected
by notification actions from 2005 to 2008 for
Alaska. Alaska's beach monitoring program remains
limited. The total number of beaches identified
and the number monitored has increased from 2
to 3 between 2005 and 2008. Of these monitored
beaches, the percentage closed or under advisory for
some period of time during the year has decreased
from 100% to 0%  (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual
national and state summaries are available on EPA's
                                                 Beaches Monitoring site: http://www.epa.gov/
                                                 waterscience/beaches/seasons/.

                                                 What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
                                                 in Alaska?
                                                   Table 8-2 presents the numbers and percentages
                                                 of monitored beaches in Alaska that were affected
                                                 by various pollution sources in 2007- States can
                                                 identify potential reasons for beach advisories even
                                                 if they do not issue any notification actions. Alaska
                                                 reported that both publicly owned treatment works
                                                 and sanitary/combined sewer overflows affected
                                                 33%, or one, of its beaches. For two of the beaches,
                                                 "no known pollution sources" caused concern (U.S.
                                                 EPA, 2009d).

                                                 How long  were the 2007 beach notification  actions?
                                                   Since Alaska did  not report any advisories
                                                 or closure notifications for 2007, there is no
                                                 information on beach advisory duration (U.S.
                                                 EPA, 2009d). For more information on state beach
                                                 closures, please visit EPA's Beaches website: http://
                                                 water, epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.
                                                 cfm.
                                                                                                        217

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         Table 8-1. Beach Notification Actions, Alaska, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA,2009d)
         Numbers and Percentages                             2004      2005     2006      2007      2008
         Total number of beaches                             No data      233          3
         Number of monitored beaches                        No data      233          3
         Number of beaches affected by notification actions       No data      200          0
         Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification  No data     100%      0%       0%        0%
         actions
         Table 8-2.  Reasons for Beach Advisories,
         Alaska, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
                          Total Number   Percent of Total
                          of Monitored
Monitored
Reason for Beaches
Advisories Affected
No known 2
pollution
sources
Publicly owned 1
treatment works
Sanitary/ 1
combined sewer
overflow
Beaches
Affected
67%
33%
33%
         Note: A single beach may have multiple sources.
        The Marble Islands are located in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Southeastern Alaska (courtesy of NPS).
218

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          Hawaii
   The overall condition of Hawaii's coastal waters
is rated fair based on assessment of two of the
indices assessed by NCA (Figure 8-13)- The water
quality index is rated good, and the sediment
quality index is rated poor. The overall rating of
fair represents a change from a rating of good from
the 2002 NCA survey of Hawaii. The NCA was
unable to evaluate the  benthic, coastal habitat, or
fish tissue contaminant indices for Hawaii's coastal
waters in the 2006 survey, and this limitation
should be considered when interpreting the overall
condition score for the state. Figure 8-14 provides
a summary of the percentage of coastal area in
good, fair, and poor categories for each index and
component indicator. This assessment is based on
environmental stressor and response data collected
under the NCA program, in conjunction with the
Hawaii Department of Health and the University
of Hawaii, from 50 locations along the main islands
of the Hawaiian chain in 2006.
                 Overall Condition
                   Hawaii Coastal
                    Waters (3.0)
                 Good
                        Fair
                               Poo
                 Water Quality Index (5)

                 Sediment Quality Index (I)

                 Benthic Index (Missing)
                 Coastal Habitat Index
                 (Missing)
                 Fish Tissue Contaminants
                 Index (Missing)
Figure 8-13. The overall condition of Hawaii coastal
waters is rated fair (U.S. EPA/NCA).
           Please refer to Chapter I  for
           information about how these
           assessments were made, the outpoints
           used to develop the rating for each
           index and component indicator, and
           limitations of the available data.

Makapuu Beach Park on Oahu, Hawaii (courtesy of
USGS).
    Water Quality Index

          Nitrogen (DIN)

        Phosphorus(DIP)

           Chlorophyll a

           Water Clarity

        Dissolved Oxygen

  Sediment Quality Index

        Sediment Toxicity

    Sediment Contaminants

 Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

          Benthic Index
                                                                    Fish Tissue
                                                            Contaminants Index
                           20     40     60     80
                             Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                                           100
Good   Fair
             Poor
                     Missing
Figure 8-14.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
ranking for all indices and component indicators—
Hawaii  (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                               219

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           Compared to other regions considered in the
         NCCR IV, estuaries in Hawaii are a small, but
         ecologically significant, component of the coastal
         resources. These coastal waters represent less than
         1% of the coastal ocean area around the Hawaiian
         Islands and are best developed on the older islands
         (Kauai and Oahu). Pearl Harbor, with a surface
         area of approximately 22 square  miles, is one of the
         country's largest naval ports, as well as the largest
         remaining  Hawaiian estuary. Most of Hawaii's
         estuaries are small, occupying less than 0.5 square
         miles. Historically, these coastal waters were more
         significant  than they are today. For example, in the
         Moiliili-Waikiki-Kewalo districts of Honolulu on
         Oahu, approximately 48% of the land area was
         occupied by wetland/estuarine habitat in 1887-
         Today, these aquatic features are  absent,  and the
         remaining  estuarine waters are channelized  conduits
         that rapidly transport stormwater runoff to the sea
         (Cox and Gordon, 1970; Meier et al., 1993).
           Estuaries serve as important nursery habitat
         for a number of commercial and recreational
         Hawaiian fishery resources. Several species that are
         estuarine-dependent are important to the economy
         of Hawaii, including mullet, milkfish, shrimp,
         and the nehu, a tropical anchovy used as live bait
         in the pole-and-line skipjack tuna fishery. In the
         Hawaii NCA, the coastal area assessed included
         semi-enclosed coastal embayments, in addition
         to the more spatially limited true estuaries.  These
         embayments often include nearshore coral reef
         habitats, which are highly important to Hawaii,
         both ecologically and economically. The direct
         economic benefits of Hawaii's coral reefs have been
         estimated as $360  million per year (Friedlander et
         al., 2008).
           Continued increases in population and economic
         growth will tend to exacerbate the impacts to
         native ecosystems because of the relatively small
         land area of the Hawaiian Islands. Changing land
         uses, such as reduction of agriculture and increased
         residential  and commercial development, may alter
         the magnitude and types of stressors that impact
         the coastal waters of Hawaii. Problems associated
         with runoff (e.g., sediments, nutrients, bacteria,
         toxics) may be especially acute in the coastal areas
of Hawaii because of the combination of steeply
sloped coastal watersheds and high seasonal rainfall
(Cox and Gordon, 1970; Meier et al., 1993).
Sediment run off is probably the most important
stressor on coral reef habitats in the coastal
embayments  (Friedlander et al., 2008).
  Between 1980  and 2006, the Hawaiian
population increased by 33%, from 0.96 million
to 1.11 million people (Figure 8-15) (NOEP,
2010). Figure 8-16 shows a map of population
density in 2006 for Hawaiian counties. The
principal population and commercial center for
the  Hawaiian Islands is located on the south shore
of Oahu  in an area encompassing Pearl Harbor,
the  Port of Honolulu, and several other estuaries
or embayments. Some 70% of the population of
Hawaii lives on Oahu (Crossett et al., 2008). The
coastal systems on the south shore of Oahu are
often highly altered and surrounded  by a high-
density, urban setting. The rest of the Hawaiian
Islands have a much lower population density.
Honolulu County has a population density of
1,551 persons per square mile, while the second-
most populous county is Maui, with a density
of 126 persons per square mile (Crossett et al.,
2008). The average population density for Hawaii's
counties, all of which are coastal, has increased
from 150 persons per square mile in 1980 to 200
persons per square mile in 2006 (NOEP, 2010).
Although one might presume that the magnitude
of anthropogenic  impacts would be highest in the
urbanized estuaries of Oahu, there are also potential
areas of anthropogenic impacts in other areas of the
Hawaiian Islands.
Manini can be found in nearshore habitats in Hawaii.
They are also known as convict tang for their stripes
(courtesty of NPS).
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    1,500'
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 500 —    	    	    	   	
           1980
                   1990
                           2000
                          Year
                                   2006
                                           2008
  Figure 8-15.  Population of Hawaiian counties, all of
  which are coastal, from 1 980 to 2008 (NOER 20 1 0).
      Population Density by County
      (people/square mile) 2006
       CH 9
       • 43
       • 101
       • 122
       • 1,520
  Figure 8-16.  Population density of Hawaii's counties in
  2006(NOEP20IO).

  Coastal Monitoring Data—
  Status of Coastal Condition
    Hawaii does not yet have a comprehensive
  coastal monitoring program. Coral reef monitoring
  activities are probably the most spatially and
  temporally extensive and are summarized in
  Friedlander et al. (2008). Most coastal resource
  monitoring is targeted to address specific bays
  and/or issues, such as nonpoint-source runoff
  and offshore discharges.  For example, Mamala
  Bay has been sampled intensively since 1983
to examine the effects of wastewater treatment
plant (WWTP) outfalls from Oahu into the Bay
(Ambrose et al., 2009). The NCA conducted the
first comprehensive, probability-based survey of
the coastal condition of Hawaii in 2002, sampling
50 stations across the main islands and 29 stations
within the urbanized estuaries of Oahu (Nelson et
al., 2007a). The 2006 assessment of coastal waters
of Hawaii was restricted to the main Hawaiian
Islands and did not include the waters of the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The coastal waters
assessed for the main Hawaiian Islands included
estuaries, lagoons, and harbors, as well as more
open coastal embayments.
                                                       Water Quality Index
                                                    The water quality index for Hawaii's coastal
                                                  waters is rated as good in the 2006 survey. This
                                                  index was developed based on measurements of five
                                                  component indicators: DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a,
                                                  water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. Most (96%)
                                                  of the coastal area was rated good for water quality
                                                  condition, with 4% of the area was rated fair
                                                  and no area rating poor (Figure 8-17). The two
                                                  instances of fair condition ratings were driven
                                                  by a poor rating for the water clarity component
                                                  indicator at a station in Pearl Harbor and a poor
                                                  rating for the DIN component indicator at a
                                                  station in Hilo Bay.

                                                  Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
                                                    Hawaii's coastal waters are rated good for
                                                  DIN concentrations, with only 2% of the coastal
                                                  area rated fair for this component indicator.
                                                  Hawaii's coastal waters are also rated good for DIP
                                                  concentrations, with 11% of the coastal area rated
                                                  fair for this component indicator.

                                                  Chlorophyll a
                                                    Hawaii's coastal waters are rated good for
                                                  chlorophyll a concentrations, with 100% of the
                                                  coastal area rated good.
                                                                                                                .O
                                                                                                                 O
                                                                                                                O

                                                                                                         221

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              Hawaii Water Quality Index
                     Site Criteria: Number of component
                     indicators in poor or fair condition.
                      • Good = No more than  I is fair
                      O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or more are fair
                      • Poor = 2 or more are poor
                      O Missing
             Figure 8-17. Water quality index data for Hawaii's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
             Water Clarity
               Water clarity in Hawaii's coastal waters is rated
             good. Water clarity was rated poor at a sampling
             site if light penetration at 1 meter was less than
             20% of surface illumination. Approximately 2% of
             the coastal area was rated poor and 3% of the area
             was rated fair for this component indicator. The
             single site rated poor for water clarity was in Pearl
             Harbor, and the single site rated fair was in Keehi
             Lagoon, a boat basin near downtown Honolulu.

             Dissolved Oxygen
                Dissolved oxygen conditions in Hawaii's coastal
             waters are provisionally rated good, with only
             6% of the area rated fair and none of the coastal
             area rated poor for this component indicator. An
             equipment malfunction with the dissolved oxygen
             probe occurred during the sampling of several of
             the Hawaiian Islands, in particular the island of
             Hawaii. Data were collected for dissolved oxygen
             at only 26 stations, and thus the magnitude of
             confidence limits is larger than the NCA target. The
             sites rated fair were located in Pearl Harbor (1 site)
             and Kaneohe Bay (1 site), with the dissolved oxygen
             concentration at the latter location just below 5
             mg/L. Although conditions in Hawaii appear to
             be generally good for dissolved oxygen, measured
             values reflect daytime conditions, and some areas
             with  restricted circulation may still experience
             hypoxic conditions at night.
                                                                        Sediment Quality Index
                                                                     The sediment quality index for Hawaii's coastal
                                                                  waters is rated poor, with 8% of the coastal area
                                                                  rated fair and 18% of the area rated poor for
                                                                  sediment quality condition (Figure 8-18). The
                                                                  sediment quality index in 2006 was calculated
                                                                  based on measurements of only two component
                                                                  indicators: sediment contaminants and sediment
                                                                  TOC. The sediment toxicity bioassay organism
                                                                  used by NCA in 2006 was not deemed appropriate
                                                                  for the sediments found in Hawaii. High levels of
                                                                  TOC contributed more stations rated as poor (5)
                                                                  than did sediment contaminants (2), and this was
                                                                  also the case for stations rated fair (8 versus 5).

                                                                  Sediment Toxicity
                                                                     The sediment toxicity component indicator was
                                                                  not measured in 2006 because the sediment toxicity
                                                                  bioassay organism used by NCA in 2006 was not
                                                                  deemed appropriate for the sediments found in
                                                                  Hawaii.

                                                                  Sediment Contaminants
                                                                     Hawaii's coastal waters are rated fair for sediment
                                                                  contaminant concentrations, with 11% of the
                                                                  coastal area rated fair and 6% of the area rated poor
                                                                  for this component indicator. The two sites rated
                                                                  poor were located in Waimea Bay, Kauai, where
    222

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                                                                                                               ,
the ERM for chromium was exceeded. The sites
rated fair were primarily in Pearl Harbor and other
harbor areas, such as Keehi Lagoon on Oahu and
Hilo Bay on Hawaii, resulting from exceedances
of the ERL for metals and some individual
PAHs. Nickel was excluded as a component of
the sediment contamination index because the
ERM value for this metal has a low reliability for
areas where high natural crustal concentrations
of nickel exist (Long et al., 1995). A study of
metal concentrations in cores collected along the
U.S. West Coast determined the range of historic
background concentrations of nickel to be 35—70
ppm (Lauenstein et al.,  2000), which brackets the
value of the ERM (51-6 ppm).

Sediment TOC
   The coastal waters of Hawaii are rated good for
the sediment TOC component indicator. A total of
12% of the coastal area was rated poor, and 19% of
the area was rated fair. Sites rated poor for  sediment
TOC were located in waters off the suburban
development of Hawaii Kai east of Honolulu,
Keehi Lagoon, and Hilo Bay. The majority of sites
rated fair were located in Kaneohe Bay on  Oahu.
      Benthic Index
  A benthic index for Hawaii is not currently
available.
      Coastal  Habitat Index
  As was the case in the 2002 survey, the
quantitative estimates of coastal habitat loss from
two time periods are still not available for Hawaii;
therefore, a coastal habitat index could not be
calculated. The best available estimate of total
wetland loss in Hawaii is 12% over the period
1780-1980 (Dahl, 1990), and no separate estimate
for coastal wetlands was provided.
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminant index was not
assessed in the 2006 survey. In the 2002 survey,
a feasibility study was conducted to determine
whether sea cucumbers could be utilized to assess
tissue body burdens. Results had a high degree
of uncertainty because of small sample size, and
analytical issues were present with the tissue
matrix. Fish and shellfish contaminant studies have
been limited in  Hawaii (Friedlander et al., 2008).
                                                                                                                o
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 Hawaii Sediment Quality Index
         f
     Site Criteria: Number and condition of
     component indicators.
      • Good = None is poor, and sediment
              contaminants is good
      O Fair = None is poor, and sediment
              contaminants is fair
      • Poor = I or more are poor
      O Missing
Figure 8-18. Sediment quality index data for Hawaii's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                         223

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         Evidence of elevated levels of some metals has been
         observed in outplanted oysters near stream mouths
         in the southern portion of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu
         (Hunter et al., 1995).

         Trends  of Coastal Monitoring
         Data—Hawaii
           The NCA and its partners conducted
         probabilistic sampling in 2002 and again in 2006.
         A comparison of the results of these assessments is
         discussed below.
           Figure 8-19 compares  the percentage of Hawaii's
         coastal area rated good, fair, or poor for the water
         quality index and its component indicators in the
         2002 and 2006 surveys. The water quality index
         for Hawaii's coastal waters was rated good for both
         surveys, with a higher percentage of the coastal
         area rated fair and poor in the 2002 survey. The
         higher percentage area estimated as fair and poor
         is most likely associated with the focused sampling
         on  the urbanized estuaries of Honolulu, which was
         a part of the design in the 2002 survey. Both the
         DIN and DIP component indicators were rated
                           as good in both surveys, and less of the coastal
                           area was rated fair and poor in the 2006 survey.
                           The chlorophyll a component indicator was also
                           rated fair in the 2002 survey and good in the
                           2006 survey, with significantly more area rated
                           fair and poor in the 2002 survey. This difference
                           is due to the much greater sampling focus in 2002
                           on the urbanized estuaries of Honolulu, where
                           approximately two-thirds of sites rated poor for
                           chlorophyll a concentrations were found. The water
                           clarity component indicator was also provisionally
                           rated good in both timeframes. Although the water
                           clarity rating in 2002 was provisional because a
                           valid reading of Secchi depth for estimating water
                           clarity could not be obtained, this provisional
                           rating was confirmed by the use of a PAR meter in
                           the 2006 survey. The dissolved oxygen component
                           indicator was also rated good in both surveys, with
                           similar amounts of the coastal area rated fair and
                           none of the area rated poor.
                              Figure 8-20 compares the percentage of
                           Hawaii's coastal area rated good, fair, or poor for
                           the sediment quality index and its component
                           indicators in the 2002 and 2006 surveys. The
                           sediment quality index was  rated good to fair in
                 100
                  80
                  60
                  40
                  20
                                                                                                  • Good
                                                                                                  • Fair
                                                                                                  • Poor
                                                                                                  D Missing
                      2002 2006
                     Water Quality
                        Index
2002  2006
 Dissolved
 Inorganic
 Nitrogen
                                                    2002 2006
                                                     Dissolved
                                                     Inorganic
                                                    Phosphorus
 2002 2006
Chlorophyll a
 2002 2006
Water Clarity
2002  2006
 Dissolved
 Oxygen
         Figure 8-19. Percentage of Hawaii's coastal area achieving each ranking forthe water quality index and its component
         indicators compared between the 2002 and 2006 surveys (U.S. EPA/NCA).
224

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the 2002 survey and poor in the 2006 survey, with
significantly less of the coastal area rated poor
during the 2002 survey. It should  be noted that the
2002 sediment quality index was calculated based
on measurements of three component indicators
(i.e., sediment toxicity, sediment contaminants,
and sediment TOC), and the 2006 sediment
quality index rating was based on  two component
indicators (i.e., sediment contaminants  and
sediment TOC). More of the coastal area was
rated fair and poor for the sediment contaminants
component indicator in 2006, and the rating
decreased from good to fair. The sediment TOC
component indicator was rated  good  in both
surveys; however, the total area estimated as being
in either fair or poor condition increased from 8%
in 2002 to 31% in 2006. The range of values of
TOC recorded in the 2006 data set was also much
greater than in 2002. Given the high  carbonate
content of sediments in Hawaii, it is possible that
laboratory analytical differences in the degree
to which inorganic carbon was removed from
sediments may have  contributed to this difference.
  100
   80  '
   60  '
£  40  -
   20  '
—
-





	


-





-


2002 2006 2002 2006 2002 2006
Sediment Sediment Sediment
Quality Contaminants TOC
Index
                                           D Good
                                           • Fair
                                           • Poor
                                           D Missing
Figure 8-20. Percentage of Hawaii's coastal area
achieving each ranking for the sediment quality index
and component indicators compared between the
2002 and 2006 surveys (U.S. EPA/NCA).
Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Insular Pacific-
Hawaiian LME
   The Insular Pacific-Hawaiian LME comprises a
range of islands, atolls, islets, reefs, and  banks that
extends 1,500 nautical miles on a west-northwest
axis (Figure 8-21), and their surrounding waters. In
2000, President Clinton, through Executive Orders
13178 and 13196, established the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, in
which fishing activities are prohibited. To  continue
protection of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,
President George Bush in 2006 established the
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument,
which is cooperatively managed by the FWS and
NOAA/NMFS, in close coordination with the
State of Hawaii. This monument encompasses
105,564 square nautical miles (139,797 square
miles) of emergent and submerged lands and
waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,
providing protection to 4,500 square miles of coral
reefs,  14 million seabirds, and over 7,000  marine
species. For more information, visit http://www.
papahanaumokuakea.gov/.
   From 2003 to 2006, Hawaii's commercial
fisheries generated over $247 in total ex-vessel
revenues within this LME. In terms  of both
landings and revenues, Hawaiian fisheries  are
dominated by the tuna group, including bigeye,
yellowfin, albacore, skipjack, and kawakawa. The
bigeye and yellowfin commercial tuna fisheries
are the most important, generating over $124
million and $30 million in total ex-vessel  revenues
from 2003 to 2006, respectively (NMFS,  2010).
Other important commercial species include
dolphinfish, swordfish, wahoo, opah, and  striped
marlin. Yellowfin tuna and dolphinfish  are the most
important recreational species as well. See Figure
8-22 for revenues and landings of the top  Hawaiian
commercial fisheries harvested within the  Insular
Pacific-Hawaiian LME. Fisheries in this LME are
managed jointly by the Western Pacific  Fishery
Management Council and the State  of Hawaii,
in accordance with terms determined under
international agreements for transboundary species.
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         Pacific Highly Migratory Pelagic
         Fisheries
           Large pelagic (water-column dwelling) predators
         routinely travel great distances across the Pacific
         Ocean, crossing the waters of several nations and
         the high seas in their pursuit of forage and ideal
         habitat for reproduction. Highly migratory pelagic
         species include tropical tunas (yellowfin, bigeye,
         and skipjack),  temperate tunas (Pacific bluefin and
         albacore), billfishes (marlins and swordfish), oceanic
         sharks (thresher, blue, and mako), dolphinfish, and
         wahoo. In Hawaii, pelagic species are caught mostly
         by trailers (65%) and longline fishermen (28%).
         These fish are also caught for recreational and
         subsistence purposes.
                                                               Red pencil urchin found among the more than 7,000
                                                               species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral
                                                               Reef Ecosystem Reserve (courtesy of NOAA).
               Kure
               Atoll
                                     Northwestern
                                    Hawaiian Islands
                     Relevant Large Marine Ecosystems
                     Main Hawaiian Islands
                     Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Main Hawaiian
   Islands
         Figure 8-21. The Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) of in the Insular
         Pacific-Hawaiian LME.
226

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18,000

16,000

14,000
              12,000
£  10,000
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     6,000

     4,000

     2,000
                                                                   | Landings

                                                                   I Value
                                                                                       140
                                                                                       120
                                                                                       100
                                                                                       80
                                                                                            I
                                                                                            ID
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                                                                                            Q.
                                                                                       60   2.
                                                                                            u
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                                                                                            VI
                                                                                       40
                                                                                       20
                        BigeyeTuna
                           Yellowfin
                             Tuna
                                   Dolphinfish    Swordfish

                                    Species
Wahoo
Figure 8-22. Top commercial fisheries for Hawaii from the Insular-Pacific LME: landings (metric tons) and value (million
dollars) from 2003 to 2006 (NMFS, 2010).
   For Hawaii, tuna landings are dominated by
bigeye (Thunnus obesus), with total landings from
2003 to 2006 of 18,000 metric tons generating
over $120 million in total ex-vessel revenues (see
Figure 8-22). Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is
another prized species used principally for canning,
with landings of 6,000 metric tons worth around
$30 million from 2003 to 2006 (NMFS, 2010).
Both yellowfin and bigeye tuna are known  as ahi
in Hawaii and are used in raw fish dishes, such as
sashimi. Tuna mostly inhabit the upper 300 feet of
the water column, are capable of high speeds, travel
long distances, and can reach up to 400 pounds due
to their  relatively long life spans. Although bigeye
and yellowfin dominate Hawaii's tuna landings,
skipjack is the volume leader throughout the Pacific
Ocean.
   Billfishes, including swordfish, marlins,
and spearfish, are more abundant near islands,
                                            continental slopes, seamounts, and oceanic fronts,
                                            and many are important to the local economy. They
                                            are categorized by their long length and sword-like
                                            bills. Commercial fisheries in this group generated
                                            nearly $26 million in total ex-vessel revenues for
                                            Hawaii from 2003 to 2006. Swordfish (Xiphias
                                            gladius) dominates this group, with landings of
                                            over 3,000 metric tons generating over $10 million
                                            in total ex-vessel revenues from 2003 to 2006 (see
                                            Figure 8-22)  (NMFS, 2010). This species, named
                                            after its spear-like bill, can reach over 14 feet in
                                            length and weigh over 1,400 pounds. It is a popular
                                            fish for cooking and is most often sold for steaks.
                                              Other Pacific highly migratory species  are
                                            wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri)  and dolphinfish
                                            (Coryphaena  hippurus), which are primarily caught
                                            commercially using longline, troll, and handline
                                            gears. The U.S. landings of dolphinfish and wahoo
                                            are worth about $4,200 per ton. From 2003 to
                                            2006, the total ex-vessel revenues for dolphinfish
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        were over $15 million, and over $8 million
        for wahoo (see Figure 8-22) (NMFS, 2010).
        Dolphinfish, also known as mahi-mahi, can reach
        up to 30 pounds in weight and live about 4 to 5
        years. The wahoo is a much bigger fish, reaching
        up to 8 feet in length and weighing as much as 180
        pounds. Both fish are targeted by recreational and
        sports fishermen.
           In the Pacific waters of the United States, pelagic
        species are managed by the Western Pacific Regional
        Fishery Management Council under the Pacific
        Pelagics Fishery Ecosystem Plan (WPRFMC, 2009b),
        in accordance with  international conventions. In
        2000, after 5 years of negotiations involving 24
        nations, 19 Pacific nations adopted the Convention
        on the Conservation and Management of Highly
        Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central
        Pacific (WCPFC) in Hawaii,  which was entered
        into force in 2004.  The WCPFC has authority to
        manage catch, by-catch, fishing capacity, and effort
        in order to conserve and manage the stocks of tuna
        and tuna-like  species west of 150°W longitude.
        A management issue closely aligned with fishing
        capacity is the problem of illegal, unreported, and
        unregulated fishing by vessels that operate outside
        the control of regional management regimes. This is
        particularly problematic with the highly migratory
        species that are of such commercial importance
        to Hawaii. Another issue in the Pacific is the
        high fishing mortality (and subsequent reduction
        in future spawning  biomass) on juvenile bigeye
        and yellowfin tuna with increasing use of fish
        aggregating devices by purse seiners and domestic
        fisheries of the Philippines and Indonesia.

        Other  Important Fisheries
           Other fisheries off Hawaii  include coral reef,
        bottomfish (fish that dwell on the bottom), and
        crustaceans. The coral reef fisheries (i.e., coastal
        pelagic scad, soldierfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, and
        goatfish) and the crustacean fisheries (i.e., lobsters
        and crabs) are primarily conducted in  nearshore
        waters under Hawaiian management. Harvests of
        bottomfish (i.e., snappers, jacks, and grouper) take
        place in both state and federal waters. Management
of these fisheries in federal waters is conducted by
the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management
Council under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the
Hawaii Archipelago (WPRFMC, 2009a), which
utilizes an ecosystem-based management approach
that emphasizes habitat, ecosystem, protected
species, and community participation. See
http://www.wpcouncil.org/HawaiiArchipelago.htm
for more details.
  A unique characteristic of this LME is the
harvest of various coral species, which do not
generate enough monetary value to rank within the
top commercial fisheries, but are important locally.
Gold, bamboo, and pink deepwater corals and
shallower black corals represent a precious resource
in the Hawaiian Islands. Black coral is harvested
mostly in state waters from a bed located in the
Auau Channel. This coral was sustainably harvested
for over 40 years, beginning in the late 1950s.
Unfortunately, increased fishing pressure and the
introduction of an invasive species are threatening
the stability of this fishery. The biannual quota is
11,000 pounds for the Auau coral  bed.
A great diversity offish can be found at Pearl and
Hermes Atoll (courtesy of NOAA).
228

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Fishery Trends and Summary
   Figure 8-23 shows landings of the top
commercial fisheries for Hawaii within the Insular-
Pacific LME since 1980, when consistent data
collection began. No species-specific data for the
dolphinfish and wahoo fisheries were available
until 2002. Landings of bigeye tuna, which have
increased continuously since the mid-1980s,
currently dominate this LME at just over 4,500
metric tons. Landings of the other top commercial
tuna species, yellowfin, seem to have stabilized
around 1,500 metric tons, after considerable annual
variability beginning in the mid-1980s, when the
fishery peaked at 5,000 metric tons. The swordfish
fishery, which yielded the largest landings for
Hawaii in the early 1990s at 6,000 metric tons,
now hovers over 1,000 metric tons. Recent catches
of both dolphinfish and wahoo are about 500
metric tons.
        The yellowfin tuna fishery is the second-largest
        commercial fishery in Hawaii (courtesy of U.S. FWS).
           8,000
                1980
1990
       2000
2006
                                Bigeye Tun a
                                Swordfish
        Year
    Yellowfin Tuna
    Wahoo
Dolphinfish
Figure 8-23.  Landings of top commercial fisheries in the Insular-Pacific LME for Hawaii from 1980 to 2006, metric tons
(NMFS.20IO).
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            Advisory Data
             Fish Consumption Advisories
               Since 1998, the State of Hawaii has advised the
             general  population not to consume fish or shellfish
             caught in the Pearl Harbor area on the island of
             Oahu due to PCB contamination (Figure 8-24).
             In addition to the estuarine advisory, a statewide
             advisory took effect in 2003-  The statewide advisory
             targets sensitive populations (e.g., pregnant women,
             nursing mothers, children) and provides data on
             mercury contamination for several species of marine
             fish (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
                O
                Number of Consumption
                Advisories per USGS
                Cataloging Unit in 2006
CH
                     I
                     2-4
                     5-9
                     10+
                                                Beach Advisories and Closures

                                                How many notification actions were reported for
                                                Hawaii between 2004 and 2008?
                                                  Table 8-3 presents the number of total and
                                                monitored beaches, as well as the number and
                                                percentage of beaches affected by notification
                                                actions from 2004 to 2008 for Hawaii. Over the
                                                past several years, the total number of beaches
                                                identified by Hawaii increased from 376 in
                                                2004 to 444 in 2008. During this same period,
                                                monitoring efforts also increased significantly, from
                                                50 to 248 beaches between 2004 and 2008. Of
                                                these monitored beaches, the percentage closed or
                                                under advisory during the year has also decreased
                                                substantially, from 52% in 2004 to 3% (or 7
                                                beaches) in 2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual
                                                national and state summaries are available on EPA's
                                                Beaches Monitoring site at http://www.epa.gov/
                                                waterscience/beaches/seasons/.
             Figure 8-24.  Fish consumption advisory for Hawaii,
             location approximate. Hawaii also has a statewide
             advisory for marine fish consumption by sensitive
             populations, although this is not mapped (U.S. EPA,
             2007c).
             Table 8-3. Beach Notification Actions, Hawaii, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
             Numbers and Percentages                             2004     2005a     2006
             Total number of beaches                              376       483       438
             Number of monitored beaches                          50        134       112
             Number of beaches affected by notification actions          26        13        16
             Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification    52%       10%       14%
             actions
                                                                            2007
                                                                             444
                                                                             I 15
                                                                                                        2008
                                                                                                        444
                                                                                                        248
                                                                                                         7
                                                                                                        3%
    230

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What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches?
   Table 8-4 presents the numbers and percentages
of monitored Hawaii beaches affected by various
pollution sources for 2007- Storm-related runoff
was a pollution source for all of Hawaii's beaches in
2007, while combined sewer overflow contributed
to 10% of beach advisories that year. Other
identified pollution sources included septic system
leakage and publicly owned treatment works (U.S.
EPA, 2009d).

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Of the 2007 beach advisories, half lasted 3 to 7
days. Actions lasting only a day accounted for one-
fifth of the  total advisories, as did those of the 8- to
30-day duration. Only 10% of actions lasted more
than 30 days (U.S. EPA, 2009d).
Table 8-4.  Reasons for Beach Advisories,
Hawaii, 2007 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
                 Total Number   Percent of Total
                  of Monitored
Monitored
Reason for
Advisories
Storm-related
runoff
Sanitary/
combined sewer
overflow
No known
pollution sources
Other and/
or unidentified
sources
Publicly owned
treatment works
Septic system
leakage
Beaches
Affected
444

44

13

13


13
4
Beaches
Affected
100%

10%

3%

3%


3%
1%
                                                      Note: A single beach may have multiple sources.
Kaonoulu Beach, Maui (courtesy of USGS).
                                                                                                          231

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                      Summary
t
to
.c
O
  NCA conducted sampling in the coastal waters of Southeastern Alaska in 2004
and in Hawaii in 2006. These assessments resulted in an overall condition rating of
good for Southeastern Alaska's coastal waters, where water quality, sediment quality,
coastal habitat, and fish tissue contaminants are all rated good. The benthic index
for Southeastern Alaska could not be evaluated. Hawaii received an overall coastal
condition rating of fair. Hawaii's coastal water quality index is rated good, and the
sediment quality index is rated poor. The NCA was unable to evaluate the benthic,
coastal habitat, or fish tissue contaminants indices for Hawaii's coastal waters in the
2006 survey.
  NOAA's NMFS manages several fisheries in the LMEs bordering Alaska and
Hawaii. The East Bering Sea LME and the Gulf of Alaska LME are two of the LMEs
that surround Alaska, and NMFS manages the salmon, groundfish, and shellfish
fisheries in these waters. The groundfish group, dominated by walleye pollock, is
the most important in terms of both landings and revenue for Alaskan commercial
fishermen. The other top fisheries are for salmon and crab. Recent trends indicate
that the size of walleye pollock stock in the East Bering Sea LME has decreased
since 2003 due to poor survival rates  of juveniles from 2001 through 2005- Pollock
abundance in the Gulf of Alaska LME also is at a low level, and this stock is carefully
managed to help protect the endangered and threatened Steller sea lions, which feed
on pollock. All five species of Alaskan salmon are fully utilized, and stocks in the
Gulf of Alaska and East Bering Sea LMEs have rebuilt to near or beyond previous
high levels. In addition to the large commercial and recreational fisheries that
contribute to the Alaska economy, there are subsistence fisheries that are important
to the health, well being, and cultural identity of native Alaskans.
  The Insular Pacific-Hawaiian LME consists of the waters around Hawaii. In
terms of both landings and revenues,  Hawaiian fisheries are dominated by the tunas,
especially bigeye and yellowfin. Catches of bigeye tuna have increased continuously
since the mid-1980s. Other highly migratory species (i.e., dolphinfish, swordfish,
and wahoo) are  the next most valuable fisheries in this LME. The coral fishery is
open, but only shallow-water black coral is being harvested.
  Contamination in the coastal waters of Hawaii has affected human uses of its
waters. In 2006, there was one fish consumption advisory in effect for Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii, for PCBs. Alaska did not have  any fish consumption advisories in effect
in 2006. Alaska monitored three beaches in 2006, but none of them were closed
or under advisory for any part of the year due to contamination. Hawaii issued
notifications for 14% of its monitored beaches in 2006.
    232

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                  Coastal  Condition  of the  Island Territories
           In 2004, NCA efforts were expanded to include
        the coastal areas of the U.S. territories of American
        Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A second
        survey of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was
        also completed in 2004. This chapter briefly describes
        assessment findings for each of these 2004 NCA
        surveys and represents baseline ecological assessments
        for the island territories. The Commonwealth of
        the Northern Mariana Islands was not included in
        the baseline ecological assessments for the island
        territories.


               American Samoa
           The overall condition presented for American
        Samoa coastal waters is good based on two of the
        five indices of ecological condition (Figure 9-1). The
        water quality and fish tissue contaminants indices
        are rated good. A sediment quality index was not
        calculated for American Samoa because sediment
        samples were not collected for the majority of sites.
        In addition, no information was collected to calculate
        the benthic or coastal habitat indices. Figure 9-2
        provides a summary of the percentage of coastal area
        in good, fair, or poor categories for each index and
        component indicator.
           American Samoa is  part of the Central Polynesian
        Province and is the southern-most U.S. territory.
        The territory consists of five volcanic high islands
        (Tutuila, Aunu'u, Ofu, Olosega, and Ta'u) and two
        atolls (Rose and Swains). The combined land area
        of American Samoa is  approximately 77 square
        miles. The surveyed resources include estuaries,
                   Please refer to Chapter I for
                   information about how these
                   assessments were made, the outpoints
                   used to develop the rating for each
                   index and component indicator, and the
                   limitations of the  available data.
                  Overall Condition
                   American Samoa
                   Coastal Waters (5)
                   ood   Fair
                               Poo
                B Water Quality Index (5)
                  Sediment Quality Index
                  (Missing)
                  Benthic Index (Missing)
                  Coastal Habitat Index
                  (Missing)
                  Fish Tissue Contaminants
                  Index (5)
Figure 9-1. The overall condition of American Samoa
coastal waters is rated good (U.S. EPA/NCA).
   Water Quality Index

        Nitrogen (DIN)

       Phosphorus(DIP)

          Chlorophyll a

          Water Clarity

       Dissolved Oxygen

 Sediment Quality Index

       Sediment Toxicity

   Sediment Contaminants

Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

        Benthic Index
                                                                      Fish Tissue
                                                               Contaminants Index
                                                                                   20    40    60    80    100
                                                                                      Percent Coastal Area
                   Missing
Figure 9-2. Percentage of area receiving each ranking
for all indices and component indicators—American
Samoa (U.S. EPA/NCA).
234

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embayments, and nearshore waters within
approximately 0.22 nautical miles of the shoreline.
Forty-nine sites were sampled in 2004, with 50% of
the sites falling within National Park boundaries.
   Although American Samoa represents far less
than half a percent of the U.S. population, the
population of this island territory has grown by
95% between 1980 and 2006, from 32,000 to
63,000 people (Figure 9-3). Over the same period,
the territory's population density has increased from
416 persons  per square mile to 818 persons per
square mile (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Coastal Monitoring Data-
,<
Status of Coastal Condition
     Water Quality Index
  The water quality index for American Samoa
is rated good, with 96% of the coastal area rated
good and 4% of the area rated fair (Figure 9-4).
The water quality index was developed based on
measurements of five component indicators: DIN,
DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and dissolved
oxygen. Reduced water clarity contributed to the
fair water quality ratings.
     80-
                                                                                                              ,
The NCA monitoring data used in
this assessment are based on single-
day measurements collected at sites
throughout the U.S. coastal waters
(excluding the Great Lakes) during a 9-
to 12-week period during the summer.
Each site was sampled once during the
collection period of 2003 through 2006.
Data were not collected during other
time periods.
                                                                                                               o
                                                                                                               Q.
                                                           .O
                                                           O
                                                          O

                                          2008
                                                    Figure 9-3. Population of American Samoa from I960
                                                    to 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
 American Samoa Water Quality Index
            Site Criteria: Number of component
            indicators in poor or fair condition.
            • Good = No more than I is fair
            O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or more are fair
            • Poor = 2 or more are poor
            O Missing

                                                                         Good   Fair    Poor
Figure 9-4. Water quality index data for American Samoa coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                        235

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        Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
           American Samoa is rated good for DIN, with all
        of the coastal area rated good for this component
        indicator. Similarly, the DIP component indicator
        is rated good for 100% of the coastal area.

        Chlorophyll a
           The chlorophyll a component indicator is rated
        good for American Samoa, with 7% of the coastal
        area rated fair.

        Water Clarity
           American Samoa is rated good for water clarity,
        with 11 % of the coastal area rated fair and 4%
        rated poor for this component indicator.

        Dissolved Oxygen
           American Samoa is rated good for the dissolved
        oxygen component indicator, with 77% of the
        coastal area rated good.  Dissolved oxygen data were
        missing for the remainder of the coastal area.
              Sediment Quality Index
           A sediment quality index was not calculated for
        American Samoa because only 25% and 16% of the
        area were sampled for sediment contaminants and
        sediment TOC, respectively (Figure 9-5). Scores
        for these two component indicators are presented
        in Figure 9-6 for the sites sampled. Two sites,
        representing 15% of the sites sampled, exceeded
        ERM concentrations  for nickel and were rated
        poor. ERL concentrations were also exceeded for
        arsenic, nickel, and chromium in sediments from
        6 of the 13 sites sampled. No TOC concentrations
        were observed greater than 5%. No sediment
        toxicity data were collected.
                                                            Banner fish in the National Park of American Samoa
                                                            (courtesy of Peter Craig, NPS).
      Benthic  Index
  Benthic data are not available for American
Samoa; therefore, the benthic index could not be
calculated.
      Coastal Habitat Index
  Estimates of coastal habitat loss are not available
for American Samoa; therefore, the coastal habitat
index could not be calculated.
                   Guidelines for Assessing Sediment Contamination (Long et al., 1995)
                   ERM (Effects Range Median)—Determined values for each chemical as the 50th percentile
                   (median) in a database of ascending concentrations associated with adverse biological effects.
                   ERL (Effects Range Low)—Determined values for each chemical as the I Oth percentile in a
                   database of ascending concentrations associated with adverse biological effects.
236

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                                                                                                                     ,
 American Samoa Sediment Quality Index
                                       Site Criteria: Number and condition of
                                       component indicators.

                                        • Good = None is poor, and sediment
                                                 contaminants is good
                                        O Fair  = None is poor, and sediment
                                                 contaminants is fair
                                        • Poor = I or more are poor
                                        O Missing
                                                                                Good   Fair
                                                                                                                      o
                                                                                                                      Q.
                                                                                                                     .O
                                                                                                                      O
                                                                                                                     O

Figure 9-5.  Sediment quality index data for American Samoa coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
      Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   The fish tissue contaminants index for American
Samoa is rated good based on fish tissue samples
collected at 47 sites. The fish tissue contaminants
index is rated poor at 4% of the sites where fish
were caught based on concentrations of PAHs and
mercury in fish tissue (Figure 9-7).
• Good
D Fair
• Poor
D Missing

1

1


,
   Sediment
Contaminants
     (n=!3)
      TOC
                                                                   0      20     40     60     80     100
                                                                            Percent of Sites Sampled

                                                       Figure 9-6. Results of the limited data collected forthe
                                                       sediment contaminants and sediment TOC component
                                                       indicators (U.S. EPA/NCA).
 American Samoa Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
                       Site Criteria: EPA guidance concentration

                        • Good = Below guidance range
                        O Fair  = Falls within guidance range
                        • Poor = Exceeds guidance range
                                                      Poor
                                                       4%
                                                               Good
                                                                96%
                                                                              Good   Fair    Poor
Figure 9-7.  Fish tissue contaminants index data for American Samoa (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                              237

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1
Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—American Samoa
  American Samoa is not located within an
LME, as designated by NOAA. Landings from
American Samoan waters are dominated by pelagic
(water-column dwelling) species (mostly albacore
tuna), with about 30 longline vessels harvesting
11 million pounds annually (WPRFMC, 201 Ib).
Annually, commercial vessels also land about 6,000
to 30,000 pounds of bottomfish (bottom-dwelling
fish), 20,000 pounds of coral reef fish, and 1,200
pounds of spiny lobster (WPRFMC, 201 la). Coral
reef species  and crustaceans are also harvested by
subsistence  fishermen. Within 3 miles of shore,
American Samoa's fisheries are managed by the
Territorial government. Between the 3-mile mark
and the boundary of the U.S. EEZ, the fisheries are
managed by the NMFS Western Pacific Regional
Fishery Management Council, which regulates
all fisheries  by archipelago except for the pelagic
fisheries, which are managed under a fishery
ecosystem plan for pacific pelagics (WPRFMC,
2009b). The American Samoa Fishery Ecosystem Plan
(WPRFMC, 2009a) utilizes an ecosystem-based
management approach that emphasizes habitat,
ecosystem, protected species, and community
participation.
            Advisory Data
             Fish Consumption Advisories
               Since 1993, American Samoa has had a fish
             consumption advisory in effect for chromium,
             copper, DDT, lead, mercury, zinc, and PCBs
             in Inner Pago Pago Harbor (Figure 9-8). In
             2006, arsenic was added to the list of potential
             contaminants to this estuary. The advisory
             recommends that all members of the general
             population (including sensitive populations of
             pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children)
             not consume any fish, fish liver, or shellfish from
             the Inner Pago Pago Harbor. In addition, these
             same waters are also under a commercial fishing
                                                                                                           O
                         Number of Consumption
                         Advisories per USGS
                         Cataloging Unit in 2006
                         •  I
                         •  2-4
                         •  5-9
                         •  10+
                                                               Figure 9-8. Fish consumption advisory for American
                                                               Samoa, location approximate (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
ban that precludes the harvesting offish or shellfish
for sale in commercial markets (U.S. EPA, 2007c).

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for
American Samoa between 2004 and 2008?
  Table 9-1 presents the number of total beaches
and monitored beaches for the U.S. Pacific island
territory of American Samoa, as well as the number
and percentage of beaches affected by notification
actions from 2005 to 2008. Since 2005, the total
number of beaches and the number of monitored
beaches decreased from 77 to 42. Of these
monitored beaches, the percentage closed or under
advisory for some period of time during the year
increased from 43% in 2005 to 100% in 2008 (or
42 beaches) (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual national
and state summaries are  available on EPA's Beaches
Monitoring Web site: http://water.epa.gov/type/
oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm.

What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
in American Samoa?
  Data on pollution sources for American Samoan
beaches were not available under the EPA Beaches
program at the time of publication.
    238

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Table 9-1. Beach Notification Actions, American Samoa, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
No data
No data
No data
No data

2005
77
77
33
43%

2006
74
45
42
93%

2007
74
45
42
93%

2008
42
42
42
100%


How long were the 2007 beach notification actions
for American Samoa?
   Over 99% of beach notification actions in
American Samoa lasted between 3 to 7 days in
2007- Less  than 1% of the actions lasted longer
than 30 days (U.S. EPA, 2009d). For more
information on state beach closures, please visit the
EPA's Beaches Web site: http://water.epa.gov/type/
oceb/beaches/beaches index.cfm.
       Guam
   The overall condition of Guam's coastal waters is
rated good based on four of the indices assessed by
the NCA (Figure 9-9). The water quality, sediment
quality, and fish tissue contaminants indices are
rated good, and the benthic community index is
rated good to fair. The NCA was unable to evaluate
the coastal habitat index for Guam. Figure 9-10
provides a summary of the percentage of coastal
area in good, fair, or poor categories for each
index and component indicator. This assessment is
based on environment stressor and response data
collected by the Guam Environmental Protection
Agency, through collaboration with NCA, from
50 locations within coastal waters of the island of
Guam.
           Please refer to Chapter I for
           information about how these
           assessments were made, the outpoints
           used to develop the rating for each
           index and component indicator, and the
           limitations of the available data.
                   Overall Condition
                  Guam Coastal Waters
                        (4.8)
                  I Water Quality Index (5)

                  | Sediment Quality Index (5)

                  Benthic Index (4)
                  Coastal Habitat Index
                  (Missing)
                  Fish Tissue Contaminants
                  Index (5)
Figure 9-9. The overall condition of Guam's coastal
waters is rated good (U.S. EPA/ NCA).
Underwater photograph ofTumon Bay Marine Reserve,
Guam, showing some of the amazing diversity of coral
reefs (courtesy of Florida Department of Environmental
Protection).
                                                                                                           239

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T5
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O
1
The NCA monitoring data used in
this assessment are based on single-
day measurements collected at sites
throughout the U.S. coastal waters
(excluding the Great Lakes) during a 9-
to 12-week period during the summer.
Each site was sampled once during the
collection period of 2003 through 2006.
Data were not collected during other
time periods.
                Water Quality Index

                      Nitrogen (DIN)

                    Phosphorus(DIP)

                       Chlorophyll a

                       Water Clarity

                    Dissolved Oxygen

              Sediment Quality Index

                    Sediment Toxicity

                Sediment Contaminants

             Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

                      Benthic Index
                        Fish Tissue
                Contaminants Index
                                      20     40     60     80
                                         Percent Coastal Area
                                                             100
                                 Missing
             Figure 9-10.  Percentage of coastal area achieving each
             ranking for all indices and component indicators—
             Guam (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                The Island of Guam is a territory of the United
             States with an estimated population of about
             171,000 in 2006, an area of 210 square miles, and
             a population density of 815 persons per square
             mile (Crossett et al., 2008; U.S. Census Bureau,
             2010). Between 1980 and 2006, the island's
             population increased by 60%, from 107,000 to
171,000 people (Figure 9-11; U.S. Census Bureau,
2010), and the population is projected to continue
to increase by an additional 13% between 2008
and 2015  (Crossett et al., 2008). However, this
estimated  additional  increase does not account for
the planned immigration of some 26,000 military
personnel and dependents, in part due to transfer of
a U.S. Marine Corps base from Okinawa to Guam
by 2014. With associated economic immigrants,
the population may increase by up to 38% in less
than 10 years to over 230,000  (Burdick et al.,
2008).
   Guam is the westernmost point of the United
States (latitude 13° 28' N, longitude 144°45' E),
and approximately 1.1 million tourists visit Guam
annually, largely drawn by its tropical climate,
coral reefs, and recreational waters. Guam's 117
miles of shoreline consist of an estimated 62%
rocky coastline and 31% sandy beaches, with the
remainder consisting of mangrove mud flats. There
is also an estimated 1.2 square miles of seagrass beds
(Guam Coastal Atlas, 2010). Compared to other
regions considered in the NCCRIV, estuaries and
coastal embayments are a small, but ecologically
significant, component of Guam's coastal resources.
Within the definition of the sampling area for the
NCA assessment in Guam, estuarine systems make
up only about 1.4 square miles along the coast,
although there are an additional 10 square miles
of marine bays, including the deepwater lagoon of
Apra Harbor, the principle commercial and military
anchorage and harbor on the island (Guam Coastal
Atlas, 2010).
   Assigned designated uses for the marine waters
of Guam are aquatic life preservation,  protection,
support, and propagation; primary recreation/whole
body contact recreation and secondary recreation/
limited body contact; and consumption. Likely
stressors affecting these designated uses include
sedimentation, point- and nonpoint-source inputs
of nutrients and contaminants, thermal effluent,
and impacts from shipping, boating, marinas, and
tourist activities. Of particular concern with respect
to coral habitats are sedimentation, freshwater
runoff and associated pollutants, and heavy fishing
pressure (Burdick et al., 2008).
    240

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   200'
3   ISO-
o
§
c
I   loo-
3
0.
I
$   SO —
                                            "
o
U

         1980
                 1990
                         2000
                        Year
                                 2006
                                         2008
 Figure 9-11.  Population of Guam from  1980 to 2008
 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
   The population of Guam is concentrated on
 the central and northern portions of the island
 (Crossett et al., 2008). Tumon Bay, the Waikiki of
 Guam, has high-density commercial development
 for the tourist industry along its shoreline. Apra
 Harbor houses both the commercial port for Guam,
 as well as a major naval base. The coastal systems  in
 this area of Guam have shorelines that are, for the
 most part, highly altered, although Sasa Bay Marine
 Preserve, an area of mangrove habitat, is also located
 in Apra Harbor. The southern portion of Guam
 has a much lower population density (Crossett et
 al., 2008). Although one might presume that the
 magnitude of anthropogenic impacts would be
 highest in the waters bordering the most urbanized
 shorelines of Guam, geologic differences between
 the north and south sides of the island must also
 be taken into account. The northern karst terrain
 is highly porous and, therefore, has no rivers, so
 the northern  coastal waters are relatively devoid of
 sedimentation due to the lack of discharge points.
 The southern portion of the island is volcanic with
 fine soils and small rivers. Due to challenges with
 land-based sources of pollution (e.g., fires, erosion,
 stormwater, aquaculture, farming), the southern
 watersheds tend to have poorer water quality.
Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal  Condition
   The Guam Environmental Protection Agency
conducts monitoring of the physical and chemical
condition of marine receiving waters, and there
are a number of studies of point-source impacts or
of marine water quality at localized scales (Bailey-
Brock and Krause, 2007; Denton et al., 1999,
2005; Tsuda and Grosenbaugh, 1977). NOAA has
conducted a series of rapid assessments of coral
reef condition and is instituting a longer-term
coral monitoring program on Guam (Burdick
et al., 2008). However, there is a general lack
of quantitative baseline information for water,
sediment, and tissue pollutant concentrations
for island marine waters as a whole. The NCA
program, therefore, developed a collaborative
project with the Guam Environmental Protection
Agency to conduct a comprehensive assessment
of Guam's coastal waters within the 60-foot depth
contour. Field sampling commenced in Guam in
2004 and was completed in 2005-
In 2006, 1,289 ships called at the commercial port area
of Guam within Apra Harbor port area (courtesy of
U.S. EPA).
                                                                                                                _
                                                                                                               &
                                                                                                               O
                                                                                                               o
                                                                                                               O
                                                                                                               O
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     ! Water Quality Index
   The water quality index for Guam's coastal
waters is rated good. The Guam water quality
index was developed based on measurements of
five component indicators: nitrate as nitrogen
(NO3-N), DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and
dissolved oxygen. This index differs from the
standard NCA water quality index in substituting
NO3-N for DIN as the component indicator
of nitrogen because the Guam Environmental
Protection Agency has established a numeric
water quality standard for NO3-N in marine
waters (Guam EPA, 2001); there is no such
numeric standard for DIN. The cutpoints for
assessing condition for the DIP and dissolved
oxygen component indicators were also adopted
from the water quality standards adopted by the
Guam Environmental Protection Agency and thus
differ from those used by NCA in other tropical
locations.
   Over half (52%) of the coastal area was rated
good for the water quality index, 41% of the area
was rated fair, and  7% of the coastal area was rated
poor (Figure 9-12). Most cases of fair condition
were driven by elevated concentrations of DIP.
The finding that 41% of the  area has fair water
quality should be considered preliminary. As
described below, water clarity measurements were
not obtained at many stations. In addition to the
five indicators  incorporated into the water quality
index, the Guam Environmental Protection  Agency
assessed concentration of Enterococci bacteria. All
50 sites sampled would rate good based on the
Guam Environmental Protection Agency numeric
cutpoints for a measurement at a single point in
time.

Nutrients: Nitrogen and  Phosphorus
   Guam is rated good for  NO3-N concentrations,
with only 2% of the coastal area rated fair for this
component indicator. Sites with highest nitrate
levels were located in Tumon Bay and near the
mouth of the commercial port area within Apra
Harbor. Blooms of green algae have been observed
along the shoreline of Tumon Bay. The source of
nutrients for these blooms has been identified as
freshwater seepage, which was enriched by runoff
from the urbanized developments in the region
through the porous limestone substrate of this
portion of the island (Denton et al., 2005).
                                                                   Guam Water Quality Index
                                                                     Site Criteria: Number of
                                                                     component indicators in
                                                                     poor or fair condition.

                                                                      • Good = No more than I
                                                                              is fair
                                                                      O Fair  = I  is poor or 2 or
                                                                              more are fair
                                                                      • Poor = 2 or more
                                                                              are poor
                                                                      O Missing
                                                                  Figure 9-12. Water quality index data for Guam's
                                                                  coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
    242

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   Guam is rated fair for DIP concentrations based
on the Guam Environmental Protection Agency
water quality cutpoints for marine waters, with
10% of the coastal area rated poor and 41% rated
fair for this component indicator. Stations rated
poor for the DIP component indicator were located
near the mouth of the commercial port area within
Apra Harbor and within Talofofo and Ylig bays
on the east coast of Guam. There is a considerable
area of aquaculture ponds adjacent to Talofofo Bay,
although it cannot be determined from this study
if there is a relation of this land use to the water
quality in the Bay.

Chlorophyll a
   Guam is rated good for the chlorophyll a
component indicator, with 2% of the coastal area
rated poor and 1% rated fair. Sites rated poor or
fair for chlorophyll a concentrations were located
within Talofofo Bay and within the Sasa Bay
mangrove area of Apra Harbor.

Water Clarity
  Water clarity in Guam's coastal waters is rated
good, based  on an assessment of photosynthetically
active radiation (PAR) in the water column.  Water
clarity was rated poor at a sampling site if light
penetration at 1 meter was less than 20% of surface
illumination. Approximately 5%  of the coastal area
was rated poor for this component indicator, 2%
of the area was rated fair, and 93% of the area was
rated good. The evaluation of water clarity should
be considered provisional. Due to equipment
problems and implementation issues at very shallow
water sites, data were collected at only 31 stations,
which is minimal for attaining area estimates with
the magnitude of error targeted by NCA. Poor
water clarity was found at stations in Hagatna
and Agat bays, while fair water quality was found
at Talofofo Bay. There is a WWTP outfall in the
vicinity of the Hagatna Bay stations.

Dissolved Oxygen
   Dissolved oxygen condition in Guam's
coastal waters is rated good based on the Guam
Environmental Protection Agency marine waters
standard, with only 6% of the area rated fair
and none of the coastal area rated poor for this
component indicator. The sites rated fair were
widely distributed and included Talofofo Bay, the
entrance to the commercial port, Sasa Bay at a
shallow water mangrove site, and several locations
in Agat Bay. At each of these stations, the dissolved
oxygen concentrations were in the range of 4.3 to
4.8 mg/L. Although conditions in Guam appear to
be generally good for dissolved oxygen, measured
values reflect daytime conditions, some areas with
restricted circulation may still experience hypoxic
conditions at night.
View ofTalofofo Bay, Guam, (courtesy of Calvo, Guam
Environmental Protection Agency).
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index for Guam's coastal
waters is rated good, with 3% of the coastal area
rated fair and 97% of the area rated good for the
sediment quality index (Figure 9-13). The sediment
quality index was calculated based on measurements
of three component indicators: sediment toxicity,
sediment contaminants, and sediment TOC. Fair
sediment quality ratings were driven by the fair
ratings of the sediment contaminants component
indicator.
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              Guam Sediment Quality Index
Site Criteria: Number and
condition of component
indicators.
 • Good = None is poor,
         and sediment
         contaminants
         is good
       = None is poor,
         and sediment
         contaminants
         is fair
 • Poor = I or more
         are poor
 O Missing
O Fair
             Figure 9-13.  Sediment quality index data for Guam's
             coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).

             Sediment Toxicity
               Guam's coastal waters received a highly qualified
             rating of good for sediment toxicity, with 71%
             of the coastal area rated good and 29% of the
             area rated fair for this component indicator.
             Guam sediments were tested for toxicity using
             sediment bioassays with the amphipod Ampelica
             abdita. Inspection of the sediment data showed
             no relationship between presence of sediment
             contaminants or sediment TOC and the
             survivorship  of the bioassay species. The survival  of
             this species may be negatively affected by sediments
             composed of more than 95% sandy sediments (U.S.
EPA, 1996); approximately 72% of the Guam
sediment samples contained greater than 95%
sandy sediments. Thus, this bioassay may not be
entirely suitable for Guam sediments. As a result of
this issue, Guam toxicity results were determined
differently from other NCA regions. For toxicity to
be rated poor, survivorship of the test organism had
to be less than 80% and the site also had to have a
rating or poor for either the sediment contaminants
index or the benthic community index. If
survivorship was less than 80% and the sediment
contaminants index or benthic community index
was rated other than poor, the sediment toxicity
index was rated fair. A fair rating in this context is
considered as potentially toxic, but this status is not
confirmed.

Sediment Contaminants
   Guam's coastal waters are rated good for
sediment contaminant concentrations, with 3% of
the coastal area rated fair and 97% of the area rated
good for this component indicator. Two of the three
sites rated fair were located within Apra Harbor,
where a high percentage of fine materials in the
sediments indicated a depositional environment.
The remaining site was located along the south
shore of the  Orote Peninsula, adjacent to the Apra
Harbor Naval Reservation. These three sites were
primarily rated fair due to  elevated concentrations
of metals (e.g., arsenic, chromium, copper, lead,
mercury), although several sites also showed levels
above the ERL for DDT and PCBs.
   Nickel was excluded from the evaluation of
sediment contamination in Guam's coastal waters.
The ERM value for this metal has been shown to
have a low reliability for areas of the U.S. Pacific
Coast, where high natural crustal concentrations
of nickel exist (Long et al., 1995). A study of metal
concentrations in cores collected along the West
Coast determined the range of historic background
concentrations of nickel to be 35—70 ppm
(Lauenstein  et al., 2000), which brackets the value
of the ERM (51.6 ppm).
    244

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Azure sea star (Linckia laevigata} (courtesy of NOAA).


Sediment TOC
   The coastal waters of Guam are rated good for
sediment TOC. A total of 24% of the coastal area
was rated fair and 76% of the area was rated good.
Sites that were rated fair for sediment TOC were
widely distributed and showed no particular spatial
pattern.
      Benthic Index
   The benthic community index for Guam's coastal
waters is rated good to fair. A total of 11% of the
coastal area was rated fair and 10% of the area
was rated poor for benthic community condition
(Figure 914). Insufficient data on benthic infaunal
communities in the coastal waters of Guam were
available to construct a fully validated benthic
condition index; however, a provisional assignment
of benthic community condition was made by
inspection of benthic community indicators, such
as soft sediment infaunal species richness and
total abundance. A regression of species richness
versus percent fines  in the sediments indicated
that a significant negative relationship was present.
Sediments with more than  10%  fines generally
had decreased species richness and abundance,
sometimes markedly so. Break points in the
                                                      distribution of species richness and total abundance
                                                      were used to assign condition scores. Stations
                                                      with species richness greater than 20 per sample
                                                      and abundance greater than 100 per sample were
                                                      considered in good condition; stations with species
                                                      richness less than 12 per sample and abundance
                                                      less than 50 per sample were considered in poor
                                                      condition; and stations with one of these two
                                                      indicators in good range and neither indicator in
                                                      the poor range were considered in fair condition.
                                                       Guam Benthic Index
   Site Criteria: Species richness
   and abundance per sample.
    • Good = Richness > 20 and
            abundance > 100
    O Fair  = Either richness or
            abundance is good
            and neither is poor
    • Poor = Richness < 12 and
            abundance < SO
    O Missing
                          3ood   Fair
Figure 9-14.  Benthic index data for Guam's coastal
waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                            245

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                                                                  Guam Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
      Coastal  Habitat Index
   Quantitative estimates of coastal habitat loss over
time are not available for Guam; therefore, a coastal
habitat index could not be calculated. It is clear
that there have been major alterations and losses
of coastal wetlands in Guam. Ellison (2009) lists a
total present area of 173 acres for mangrove habitat
on Guam. Modification of coastal wetlands prior
to western contact was probably generally limited
to the conversion  of marshes into taro cultivation
ponds. An estimated 1,236 acres of mangroves and
freshwater marshes were destroyed  between 1945
and 1950 (Wiles and Ritter, 1993), but the estimate
does not separate the two habitat types.
                   Fish Tissue Contaminants  Index
               The fish tissue contaminants index for Guam
             is rated good, with 100% of the stations where
             fish were caught rated good (Figure 9-15). The
             fish tissue contaminant index rating is considered
             provisional because data are available for only 28
             stations. Additionally, it is worth noting that only
             one sample was collected from some of the areas
             where contaminants have historically been present
             in Guam's waters (e.g., Apra Harbor and Cocos
             Lagoon).
               The NCA survey of Guam conducted a
             feasibility study to determine whether sea
             cucumbers could be utilized to assess tissue body
             burdens of chemical contaminants. Various species
             of sea cucumbers were encountered (i.e., Actinopyga
             mauritiana, Eohadschia argus, Eohadsia marmorata,
             Holothuria atra, Holothuria edulis, Holothuria
             nobulis, Holothuria spp.), depending on station
             location, and generally one species per station
             was collected for  analysis. Some heavy metals
             (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, zinc) were detected in
             sea cucumber tissue samples, but all metals were
             below levels of concern. Pesticides were almost
             never detected  in the sea cucumber tissue samples,
             while PCBs were detected at low levels at only two
             stations.
Site Criteria: EPA
guidance concentration
 • Good = Below guidance
         range
 O Fair = Falls within
         guidance range
 • Poor = Exceeds guidance
         range
                                                    Figure 9-15.  Fish tissue contaminants index data for
                                                    Guam's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                    Large  Marine Ecosystem
                                                    Fisheries—Guam
                                                       Guam is not located within an LME, as
                                                    designated by the NOAA. Fish landings in Guam
                                                    are dominated by pelagic (water-column dwelling)
                                                    species (about 510,000 pounds in 2006), primarily
                                                    mahi mahi, wahoo, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna,
                                                    and Pacific blue marlin (WPRFMC, 20 lib).
                                                    These fish are harvested using small trolling
                                                    boats by fishermen who are generally employed
                                                    in other industries, although most at some
                                                    point sell portions of their catch. Fishermen also
                                                    participate in the bottomfish (bottom-dwelling
                                                    fish), crustacean, and coral reef fisheries, mostly
                                                    for subsistence and cultural sharing purposes (e.g.,
                                                    fiestas, food exchanges). Within  3 miles of shore,
    246

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Guam's fisheries are managed by the Territorial
government. Between the 3-mile mark and the
boundary of the U.S. EEZ, the fisheries are
managed by the NMFS Western Pacific Regional
Fishery Management Council, which regulates
all fisheries by archipelago accept for the pelagic
fisheries.  Pelagic fisheries are managed under the
Pacific Pelagics Fishery Ecosystem Plan (WPRFMC,
2009b). Guam's non-Territorial fisheries are
managed under the Mariana Archipelago Fishery
Ecosystem Plan (WPRFMC, 2009c), which utilizes
an ecosystem-based management approach that
emphasizes habitat, ecosystem, protected species,
and community participation.
Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   Guam issued two coastal fish consumption
advisories in 2001 (Figure 9-16) due to the presence
of chlorinated pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. Both
advisories recommend that the general population
not consume seafood from waters under advisory
(U.S. EPA, 2007c).

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for
Guam between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 9-2 presents the number of total beaches
and monitored beaches for the U.S. Pacific island
territory of Guam, as well as the number and
percentage of beaches affected by notification
actions from 2005 to 2008. Since 2005, the total
number of beaches and the number of monitored
beaches decreased significantly, from 141 to 31 in
2008. Of these monitored beaches, the percentage
closed or under advisory for some period of time
during the year increased from 31% in 2005 to
100% in 2008 (or 31 beaches) (U.S. EPA, 2009d).
Annual national and state summaries are available
on EPA's Beaches Monitoring Web site: http://
water, epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.
cfm.

What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
in Guam?
  Data on pollution sources for Guam's beaches
were not available under the EPA BEACH Program
at the time of publication.
                          Number of Consumption
                          Advisories per USGS
                          Cataloging Unit in 2006
                          •  I
                          •  2-4
                          •  5-9
                          •  10+
 Figure 9-16.  Fish consumption advisory for Guam
 (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
.O
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Table 9-2. Beach Notification Actions, Guam, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
No data
No data
No data
No data

2005
141
141
43
31%

2006
33
33
33
100%

2007
33
33
29
88%

2008
31
31
31
100%

                                                                                                       247

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        How long were the 2007 beach notification actions
        for Guam?

        In 2007, all of the beach notification actions in
        Guam lasted between 3 to 7 days (U.S. EPA,
        2009d). For more information on state beach
        closures, please visit the EPA's Beaches Web site:
        http://water.epa. gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
        index, cfm.
               Northern  Mariana
               Islands
          The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
        Islands consists of 14 islands in the North Pacific
        Ocean, formed by underwater volcanoes along
        the Marianas Trench about three-quarters of the
        way from Hawaii to the Philippines. The total
        land area of the Commonwealth is just 179 square
        miles, but the islands have a total coastline of 920
        miles, which varies between the fringing coral reefs
        of the south and the volcanic northern islands.
        Between 1980 and 2006, the population of the
        Commonwealth grew by 259%, from 17,000 to
        61,000 people (see Figure 9-17), with a population
        density of 453 persons per square mile in 2006.
           80
       I
           60-
        c
        o
       1   40-
        3
        0.
       I
        o
       U

           20
                1980
                        1990
                               2000
                              Year
                                       2006
                                               2008
       Figure 9-17. Population in the Northern Mariana Islands
       from 1980 to 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Forbidden Island, located off the shore of Saipan, is a
populartourist destination (courtesy of NOAA).

   Over 90% of the Commonwealth's 55,000
inhabitants (2008 estimate) reside on the island of
Saipan, and the remaining 10% inhabit the Tinian
and Rota islands. These three southern islands also
encompass many of the Northern Mariana Islands'
coral reefs. The island of Saipan offers diverse
coral habitats, with both fringing and barrier coral
reefs. Unfortunately, these reefs are also subject
to pressures associated with coastal populations,
including pollution from sewage outflows,
wastewater disposal systems, sedimentation from
rural runoff, and chemicals and nutrients from
urban runoff. Since the economy of the Northern
Mariana Islands is largely dependent on tourism,
which centers on recreational marine activities, the
maintenance of these reefs should be assessed in
terms of their economic value.

Coastal Monitoring Data—
Status of Coastal Condition
   The Northern Mariana Islands have not been
assessed by the NCA
248

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Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Northern Mariana
Islands
   The Northern Mariana Islands are not located
within an LME. Fish landings in the Northern
Mariana Islands are dominated by pelagic (water-
column dwelling) species, primarily skipjack tuna
(about 250,000 pounds in 2007) harvested by small
trolling boats for the local market (WPRFMC,
20lib) Fishermen also participate in the bottomfish
(bottom-dwelling fish), crustacean, and coral
reef fisheries, mostly for subsistence and cultural
sharing purposes (e.g., fiestas, food exchanges).
All waters around the Northern Mariana Islands
are considered federal, and thereby under the
jurisdiction of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery
Management Council, which regulates all fisheries
by archipelago, except for the pelagic fisheries.
Pelagic fisheries are managed through the Fishery
Ecosystem Plan for Pacific Pelagic Fisheries of the
Western Pacific Region (WPRFMC, 2009b). The
fisheries of the Northern Mariana Islands are
managed under the Mariana Archipelago Fishery
Ecosystem Plan (WPRFMC, 2009c), which utilizes
an ecosystem-based management approach that
emphasizes habitat, ecosystem, protected species,
and community participation.
Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   The Northern Mariana Islands did not report
fish consumption advisory information to EPA in
2006 (U.S. EPA, 2007c).
Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
Northern Mariana Islands between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 9-3 presents the number of total beaches
and monitored beaches for the Northern Mariana
Islands, as well as the number and percentage of
beaches affected by notification actions from 2005
to 2008. Since 2005, the total number of beaches,
as well as the number of monitored beaches,
decreased by one-third, from 75 to 50 in 2008. Of
these monitored beaches, the percentage closed or
under advisory for some period of time during the
year remained fairly constant around 80% (U.S.
EPA, 2009d). Annual national and state summaries
are available on EPA's Beaches Monitoring Web
site: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/
beaches_index.cfm.

What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
in the Northern Marana Islands?
   Data on pollution sources for the beaches  of
the Northern Mariana Islands were not available
under the EPA BEACH Program at the time of
publication.

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions
for the Northern Mariana Islands?
   In 2007, all of the beach notification actions in
the Northern Mariana Islands lasted between 3 to 7
days  (U.S. EPA, 2009d). For more information on
state beach closures, please visit the EPA's Beaches
Web site: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/
beaches  index, cfm.
.O
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Table 9-3. Beach Notification Actions, Northern Mariana Islands, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
No data
No data
No data
No data
2005
75
75
61
81%
2006
76
76
56
74%
2007
76
76
61
80%
2008
50
50
39
78%
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                     Puerto  Rico
   As shown in Figure 9-18, the overall coastal
condition of Puerto Rico's coastal waters is rated
fair, with an overall condition score of 2.7 based on
three of the indices used by the NCA. Data to assess
the water quality, sediment quality, and benthic
indices were collected for the majority of the 50
sites sampled in 2004. The water quality index is
rated good to fair, the benthic index is rated fair,
and the sediment quality index is rated poor. NCA
was unable to evaluate the coastal habitat or fish
tissue contaminants indices for Puerto Rico. Figure
9-19 provides a summary of the percentage of
coastal area in good, fair, poor, or missing categories
for each index and component indicators for the
Puerto Rico coastal resources survey in 2004.
   The island of Puerto Rico is the  smallest  island
of the Greater Antilles and part of the West Indian
Province. The volcanic island's geography is mostly
mountainous, with a coastal plain belt to the north
consisting of sandy beaches along most of the
coastal area. Puerto Rico is a densely populated
Island Commonwealth of the United States, with
approximately 1,146  people per square mile in
2006. Puerto Rico is  home to 1.3% of the U.S.
population, and the population has increased by
22%  between 1980 and 2006, from 3-2 million
to 3-9 million people (Figure 9-20) (U.S. Census
Bureau, 2010). The majority of the population is
concentrated in and around the coastal areas.  The
estuarine areas are heavily developed, with the
island's industries  focused in the vicinity of San
Juan Bay.
                         Please refer to Chapter I for
                         information about how these
                         assessments were made, the outpoints
                         used to develop the rating for each
                         index and component indicator, and the
                         limitations of the available data.
                                                                           Overall Condition
                                                                              Puerto Rico
                                                                           Coastal Waters (2.7)
 Water Quality Index (4)

| Sediment Quality Index (I)

 Benthic Index (3)
 Coastal Habitat Index
 (Missing)
 Fish Tissue Contaminants
 Index (Missing)
                                                                     Figure 9-18. The overall condition of Puerto Rico's
                                                                     coastal waters is rated fair to poor (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                        Water Quality Index

                                                                              Nitrogen (DIN)

                                                                            Phosphorus(DIP)

                                                                               Chlorophyll a

                                                                               Water Clarity

                                                                            Dissolved Oxygen

                                                                      Sediment Quality Index

                                                                            Sediment Toxicity

                                                                        Sediment Contaminants

                                                                     Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

                                                                              Benthic Index
                                                                                Fish Tissue
                                                                        Contaminants Index
                                                                                               20     40     60     80
                                                                                                 Percent Coastal Area
                                                                                                                       100
                                                                    Good   Fair
                                                                                 Poor
                                                                                         Missing
                                                        Figure 9-19. Percentage of coastal area achieving each
                                                        ranking for all indices and component indicators—
                                                        Puerto Rico (U.S. EPA/NCA).
     250

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3
Q.
0
U
    5,000
    4,000
    3,000 —
2,000 -
    1,000-
                                                        ,<


           1980
                    1990
                            2000
                           Year
                                     2006
                                             2008
The NCA monitoring data used in
this assessment are based on single-
day measurements collected at sites
throughout the U.S. coastal waters
(excluding the Great Lakes) during a
9- to 12-week period during the
summer.  Each site was sampled once
during the collection period of 2003
through 2006. Data were not collected
during other time periods.
                                                                                                                   .O
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                                                                                                               O

   Figure 9-20.  Population of Puerto Rico, 1980-2008
   (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
   Coastal Monitoring Data-
   Status of Coastal Condition
      The 2004 assessment of Puerto Rico's coastal
   resources indicated that, for the indices and
   component indicators measured,  the primary
   problems in Puerto Rico's coastal waters are
   degraded sediment quality, degraded benthos (low
   diversity), and some areas of poor water quality.
   Sampling stations with consistently low scores for
   the water quality, sediment quality,  and benthic
   indices were located in San Juan Bay, Guanica Bay,
   Puerto Yabucoa, and Laguna San Jose.
                                                         'Water Quality Index
                                                      The water quality index for Puerto Rico's coastal
                                                    waters is rated good to fair. This water quality index
                                                    was developed using five water quality indicators:
                                                    DIN, DIP, chlorophyll a, water clarity, and
                                                    dissolved oxygen. Although only 10% of the coastal
                                                    area was rated poor, 50% of the area was rated poor
                                                    and fair, combined (Figure 9-21). Poor water clarity
                                                    ratings paired with elevated DIP or chlorophyll a
                                                    concentrations at individual sites resulted in poor
                                                    water quality index scores.
    Puerto Rico Water Quality Index
     Site Criteria: Number of
     component indicators in
     poor or fair condition.
      • Good = No more than I is fair
      O Fair  = I is poor or 2 or
             more are fair
      • Poor = 2 or more are poor
      O Missing
   Figure 9-21. Water quality index data for Puerto Rico coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                            251

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Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
   DIN concentrations were rated good in Puerto
Rico's coastal waters, and DIP concentrations were
rated fair. For DIN, 4%  of the coastal area was
rated fair and none of the area was rated poor. The
DIP component indicator was rated fair in 82% of
the coastal area and poor in 12% of the area.

Chlorophyll a
   Puerto Rico's coastal waters are rated good for
the chlorophyll a component indicator, with 30%
of the area rated  fair and 8% rated poor.

Water Clarity
   Water clarity for Puerto Rico is rated fair, with
28% of the coastal area rated fair and  14% of the
area rated poor.

Dissolved Oxygen
   The dissolved  oxygen  component indicator is
rated good for Puerto Rico because only 8% of the
coastal area is rated fair and the rest of the area is
rated good.
      Sediment Quality Index
   Overall, sediment quality in Puerto Rico's coastal
waters is rated poor. A sediment quality index was
developed for Puerto Rico's coastal waters using
three sediment quality component indicators:
sediment toxicity, sediment contaminants, and
sediment TOC. An estimated 20% of Puerto
Rico's coastal area is rated poor for this index,
and 2% of the area is rated fair (Figure 9-22). No
overlap was identified for areas with elevated TOC
concentrations and contaminated sediments.

Sediment Toxicity
   Puerto Rico's sediment toxicity was rated good,
with none of the coastal area rated poor. Sediment
toxicity was not tested for 12% of the area.

Sediment Contaminants
   The sediment contaminants component
indicator was rated poor for 10% of the coastal area
and fair for 4%  of the area, resulting in a fair rating
for this indicator.

Sediment TOC
   The sediment TOC component indicator is rated
good for Puerto Rico, with 10% of the coastal area
rated poor and 28% rated fair.
              Puerto Rico Sediment Quality Index
               Site Criteria: Number and
               condition of component indicators.
                • Good = None is poor, and sediment
                       contaminants is good
                O Fair  = None is poor, and sediment
                       contaminants is fair
                • Poor = I or more are poor
                O Missing
                         Missing
                          6%
             Figure 9-22. Sediment quality index data for Puerto Rico's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
    252

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      Benthic  Index
   The benthic index for Puerto Rico's coastal
waters is rated fair based on deviation from the
mean benthic diversity. Approximately 16% of the
coastal area is rated poor and 20% is rated fair for
this index (Figure 9-23). An additional 8% of the
area had missing values.
      Coastal Habitat Index
  Table 9-4 presents the types of wetlands in
Puerto Rico between 1990 and 2005- Estimates of
coastal habitat loss are not available for Puerto Rico;
therefore, the coastal habitat index could not be
calculated.
 Table 9-4. Marine and Estuarine Wetlands of
 Puerto Rico (Dahl, 2010)
 Type of Wetland
 Marine Intertidal
 Estuarine Non-Vegetated
 Estuarine Emergent
 Estuarine Shrub/Forested
 Estuarine Vegetated (subtotal)
 All Intertidal Wetlands
 2004
 2,174
 3,685
 13,885
23,964
37,849
43,708
                   Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
   Fish tissue samples were not collected for 2004
NCA survey of Puerto Rico; therefore, a fish tissue
contaminants index could not be calculated. A fish
tissue index was calculated from samples collected
from San Jose Lagoon and reported for the San
Juan Bay Estuary in the 2006 National Estuary
Program Coastal Condition Report (U.S. EPA,
2006). Based on concentrations of contaminants
found in fish and crustacean tissues during the
San Jose Lagoon survey, 40% of the sites sampled
exceeded EPA advisory guidance values for
consumption, rendering the calculated fish tissue
contaminant index poor for this National  Estuary
Program waterbody (U.S.  EPA, 2006).

Trends of Coastal Monitoring
Data—Puerto Rico
   In 2000, the first NCA survey conducted in
Puerto Rico  indicated that the ecological condition
of the estuarine resources were in fair to poor
condition. Poor condition was mainly attributed to
consistently low scores for water quality, sediment
quality, and benthic diversity within the areas of
San Juan Harbor, the Cano Boqueron, Laguna del
Condado, and Laguna San Jose (U.S. EPA, 2004b).
                                                                                                              .O
                                                                                                              O
                                                                                                              O

 Puerto Rico Benthic Index
    Site Criteria: Lower limit of mean
    deversity in unstressed habitats.

     O Good = > 90%
     O Fair  =75-90%
     O Poor  =<7S%
     O Missing
Figure 9-23. Benthic index data for Puerto Rico's coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                       253

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In 2000, the sampling efforts were intensified in
San Juan Bay. Differences in results from the 2000
survey and the 2004 assessment presented here may
be due to the changes in sample design. However,
in areas with recurring degraded ecological
conditions, further investigation of potential causes
is warranted.
   In both surveys, the water quality index was
rated fair. In the NCCRII for the 2000 Puerto
Rico survey, the water quality scores were attributed
to poor chlorophyll a scores and fair water clarity.
The percent of the coastal area in poor condition
for the sediment quality index decreased from
over 60% in the 2000 survey to 20% in the 2004
survey. Puerto Rico's rating for the benthic index
improved from poor for the 2000 survey to  fair
for the 2004 survey. With two surveys completed
(2000 and 2004) for Puerto Rico, there is sufficient
information to develop a benthic index for the
island commonwealth. Such an index is needed to
examine the relationship between benthic diversity
and benthic community structure and habitat to
determine whether or not benthic communities are
considered degraded for Puerto Rico coastal areas.

Large Marine Ecosystem
Fisheries—Caribbean  Sea LME
   The semi-enclosed Caribbean Sea LME,
bounded by the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf
and Gulf of Mexico LMEs, Central America, South
America, and the Atlantic Ocean, is considered a
moderate-productivity ecosystem with localized
areas of higher productivity along the coast of
South America (Figure 9-24). This LME is bordered
by 38 countries and dependencies (NOAA, 201 Ob).
Commercial fishermen in the Caribbean Sea LME
focus mostly on the reef and invertebrate groups.
Recreational fishers mainly target dolphinfish,
barracuda, snappers, tuna, and wahoo.
                                                                             Relevant Large Marine Ecosystem
                                                                             Associated U.S. land masses
                      Figure 9-24. Caribbean Sea LME (NOAA, 201 Ob).
    254

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Reef Fisheries
   Reef fish of the Caribbean Sea LME include
a variety of structure-associated species that
reside on coral reefs,  artificial structures, or other
hard-bottom areas, as well as tilefish that live in
muddy-bottom and continental shelf areas. These
fish, which include red snapper and grouper,
occur at depths ranging from 6 to over 650 feet.
Reef-fish fisheries are extremely diverse; vary
greatly by location and species; and are utilized by
commercial, subsistence, and recreational fisheries
for food, commerce,  sport, and trophies. These
fisheries operate from charter boats, head boats,
private boats, and the shore and utilize a range of
gear such as fish traps, hook and line, longlines,
spears, trammel nets, bang sticks, and barrier nets.
Reef fish are associated closely with fisheries for
other reef animals, including spiny lobster, conch,
stone crab, corals, and live rock and ornamental
aquarium species. Non-consumptive uses of reef
resources (e.g., ecotourism, sport diving, education,
scientific research) also are economically important
and may conflict with traditional commercial and
recreational fisheries.
   Many reef fishes are vulnerable to  overfishing
due to life-history characteristics, such as slow
growth, late maturity, ease of capture, and large
body size. Consequently, many stocks are currently
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Invertebrate Fisheries
   Invertebrate fisheries in the Caribbean Sea LME
harvest shrimp, spiny lobster, stone crab, and
conch. The fishery for spiny lobster in the U.S.
Caribbean territories is small. Annual spiny lobster
landings for Puerto Rico have averaged 104 metric
tons since 1990. U.S. Virgin Islands landings
for 1980—2006 were fairly stable, averaging 28
metric tons. In the U.S. Caribbean, spiny lobster
is caught primarily by fish traps, lobster traps, and
divers (NMFS, 2009b). The CFMC's Spiny Lobster
Fishery Management Plan (CFMC et al., 2008) is
based on a 3-5-inch minimum carapace length and
protection of egg-bearing female lobsters (Bolden,
2001).
   The conch fishery targets the queen conch
(Strombus gigas), most of which are taken by divers.
Queen conch is a mollusk with a spiral-shaped shell
and a pink or orange interior. It can reach a weight
of 5 pounds and a length of 12 inches. Conch are
mostly harvested for direct human consumption,
though their meat may also be used for bait, and
their shells are often used for jewelry. The resource
can be easily depleted, and the queen conch is
covered by an FMP (CFMC, 1996a). For the
2004-2006 time period, the recent conch average
yield is 110 metric tons (NMFS, 2009b).  Queen
conch is considered overfished, largely due to trap
fishing and bycatch associated with the reef fisheries
(NMFS, 2009b).
   Habitat concerns impact many of the Caribbean
invertebrate fishery resources. Estuarine and marsh
loss removes critical habitat used by young shrimp
(Minello et al., 2003). Spiny lobsters depend on
reef habitat and shallow water algal flats for feeding
and reproduction, but these habitat requirements
may conflict with expanding coastal development.
Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   Puerto Rico did not report fish consumption
advisory information to the EPA in 2006 (U.S.
EPA, 2007c).

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for
Puerto Rico between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 9-5 presents the number of total and
monitored beaches for Puerto Rico from 2004
to 2008, as well as the number and percentage of
beaches affected by notification actions over this
same time period. Over the past several years, the
total number of identified and monitored beaches
in Puerto Rico has fluctuated between 22 and 23-
Of these monitored beaches, the percentage closed
or under advisory for some period of time during
the year increased from  5% in 2004  to 50% in
2008 (or 11  beaches) (U.S. EPA, 2009d). Annual
national and state summaries are available on EPA's
Beaches Monitoring Web site: http://water.epa.gov/
type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm.

What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
in Puerto Rico?
   Data on pollution sources is  not available under
the EPA BEACH Program for Puerto Rico.

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   Just over half of beach notification actions in
Puerto Rico  in 2007 lasted from 3 to 7 days. The
other half of the notification actions was comprised
of those lasting from 8 to 30 days (U.S. EPA,
2009d). For more information on state beach
Table 9-5. Beach Notification Actions, Puerto Rico, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
22
22
1
5%

2005
23
23
5
22%

2006
23
23
8
35%

2007
23
23
14
61%

2008
22
22
1 1
50%

    256

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closures, please visit the EPA's Beaches Web site:
http://water.epa.gov/ type/oceb/beaches/beaches_
index.cfm.


        U.S.Virgin   Islands
   As shown in Figure 9-26, the overall coastal
condition of the U.S. Virgin Islands' coastal
waters is rated good to fair based on three of the
indices used by NCA Both the water quality and
benthic indices are rated good, and the sediment
quality index is rated fair to poor. NCA was
unable to evaluate the coastal habitat or fish tissue
contaminant indices for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Figure 9-27 provides a summary of the percentage
of coastal area in good, fair, or poor categories
for each index and component indicator. This
assessment for the U.S. Virgin Islands is based on
results from 47 sites sampled in 2004.
                   Overall Condition
                     U.S.Virgin Islands
                    Coastal Waters (4)
                   Good   Fair
                      Poor|
                   Water Quality Index (5)

                   Sediment Quality Index (2)
                   Benthic Index (5)
                  I Coastal Habitat Index
                  I (Missing)
                  I Fish Tissue Contaminants
                  I Index (Missing)
Figure 9-26. The overall condition of the U.S.Virgin
Islands' coastal waters is rated good to fair (U.S. ERA/
NCA).
  ',
Please refer to Chapter I  for
information about how these
assessments were made, the outpoints
used to develop the rating for each
index and component indicator, and the
limitations of the available data.
                                                Water Quality Index

                                                     Nitrogen (DIN)

                                                    Phosphorus (DIP)

                                                       Chlorophyll a

                                                       Water Clarity

                                                    Dissolved Oxygen

                                             Sediment Quality Index

                                                    Sediment Toxicity

                                                Sediment Contaminants

                                            Total Organic Carbon (TOC)

                                                     Benthic Index
                                                        Fish Tissue
                                                Contaminants Index
                                          I     I  I
                                                                      20    40    60     80     100
                                                                         Percent Coastal Area
                                                       Good   Fair
                                                                            Missing
Figure 9-27. Percentage of coastal area achieving each
ranking for all indices and component indicators—U.S.
Virgin Islands (U.S. EPA/NCA).


                                                        Green turtle (courtesy of NPS).
                                                                                                               257

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oxygen. Decreased water clarity and elevated DIP
concentrations (fair) contributed to fair water
quality scores.

Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorus
   The U.S. Virgin Islands are rated good for
DIN, with 100% of the coastal area rated good for
this component indicator. The DIP component
indicator is rated fair because 96% of the U.S.
Virgin Islands coastal area is rated fair.

Chlorophyll a
   The chlorophyll a component indicator is rated
good for the U.S. Virgin Islands, with 98% of the
coastal area rated good and  2% rated fair.

Water Clarity
   Water clarity is rated good in the U.S. Virgin
Islands. Approximately 21% of the coastal area is
rated fair and 9% is rated poor.

Dissolved Oxygen
   The U.S. Virgin Islands are rated good for
dissolved oxygen, with 7% of the coastal area
rated fair and none rated poor  for this component
indicator.
Spotted trunkfishes (Lactophrys bicaudalis) live near
reefs and feed mostly on sea squirts (courtesy of
Caroline Rogers, USGS).
      Sediment Quality Index
   The sediment quality index is rated fair to poor
for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The sediment quality
index was calculated for the U.S. Virgin Islands
using component indicators for sediment toxicity,
sediment contaminants, and sediment TOC.
Approximately 17% of the survey area exhibited
poor sediment quality (Figure 9-30). Elevated TOC
and sediment toxicity were found at various sites
across the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St.
Johns.
 U.S.Virgin Islands Sediment Quality Index
    Site Criteria: Number and condition of
    component indicators.

     • Good = None is poor, and sediment
             contaminants is good
     O Fair = None is poor, and sediment
             contaminants is fair
     • Poor = I or more are poor
     O Missing
                                                           Poor
                                                            17%
                                                                          Good
                                                                           83%
Figure 9-30.  Sediment quality index data for U.S.Virgin
Islands' coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                                                                                                           259

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Sed/ment Tox/c/ty
   The sediment toxicity component indicator is
rated poor for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although
only 11% of the coastal area is rated poor for this
indicator, results are missing for 42% of the area.

Sed/ment Contaminants
   The U.S. Virgin Islands are rated good for the
sediment contaminants component indicator,
with 2% of the coastal are rated poor and 98%
rated good. The sites rated poor were located in
Christenstead Harbour, a capital city port of the
island of St. Croix, and demonstrated elevated levels
of chromium, copper, and lead.

Sed/ment TOC
   The sediment TOC component indicator is rated
good for the  U.S. Virgin Islands, with 26% of the
area rated fair and 4%  rated poor. Results were
missing  for 19% of the coastal area.
                                                                 U.S.Virgin Islands' Benthic Index
                  Benthic Index
               The benthic index for the U.S. Virgin Islands
             is rated good based on deviation from the mean
             benthic diversity. Approximately 6% of the coastal
             area is rated poor and 15% is rated fair for this
             index (Figure 9-31). An additional 7% had missing
             values.
                                                                    Site Criteria: Lower limit of mean
                                                                    deversity in unstressed habitats.

                                                                     O Good = > 90%
                                                                     O Fair  =75-90%
                                                                     O Poor = < 75%
                                                                     O Missing
                                                                          Missing
                                                                      Poor   7%
                                                                      6%
                                                                               Good   Fair    Poor
                                                   Figure 9-31.  Benthic index data for U.S.Virgin Islands'
                                                   coastal waters (U.S. EPA/NCA).
                  Coastal Habitat Index
               Table 9-6 presents the types and extents of
            wetlands in U.S. Virgin Islands between 1990 and
            2005, as well as the change in the wetlands' extents
            over this timeframe. These estimates of coastal
            habitat loss do not cover the time period necessary
            to calculate the coastal habitat index (see Chapter 1
            for more information); therefore, the coastal habitat
            index could not be calculated.
                                                         Fish Tissue Contaminants Index
                                                      Estimates offish tissue contaminants were not
                                                   available for U.S. Virgin Islands; therefore, the fish
                                                   tissue contaminants index could not be calculated.
                                                   Large Marine Ecosystem
                                                   Fisheries—American Samoa
                                                      The U.S. Virgin Islands are located within the
                                                   Caribbean Sea LME, which is discussed in the
                                                   Puerto Rico section of this chapter.
    260

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Table 9-6. Marine and Estuarine Wetlands of U.S.Virgin Islands (Dahl, 2010)
Type ofWetland
Marine intertidal
Estuarine non-vegetated
Estuarine emergent
Estuarine shrub/forested
Estuarine vegetated (subtotal)
All intertidal wetlands
1 990 Era
(acres)
18
467
1
663
664
1,149
2005 Era
(acres)
1 12
405
8
617
625
1,142
Change
(acres)
94
-62
7
-46
-39
-7
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Advisory Data
Fish Consumption Advisories
   The U.S. Virgin Islands did not report fish
consumption advisory information to the EPA in
2006 (U.S. EPA, 2007c).

Beach Advisories and Closures

How many notification actions were reported for the
U.S.Virgin Islands between 2004 and 2008?
   Table 9-7 presents the total number of beaches,
the number of monitored beaches, the number
of beaches affected by notification actions, and
the percentage of monitored beaches affected by
notification actions from 2005 to 2008 for the U.S.
Virgin Islands. Over the past several years, the total
number of beaches and the number of monitored
beaches has decreased from 45 in 2005  to 43 in
2008. Of these monitored beaches, the  percentage
closed or under  advisory for some period of time
during the year has decreased markedly from 71%
in 2005 to 19% in 2008 (or 8 beaches) (U.S. EPA,
2009d). Individual state summaries are available on
EPA's Beaches Monitoring Web site: http://water.
epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm.
What pollution sources impacted monitored beaches
in the U.S.Virgin Islands?
   Data on pollution sources is not available under
the EPA BEACH Program for the U.S. Virgin
Islands.

How long were the 2007 beach notification actions?
   For 2007, all of the beach notification actions
lasted between 3 to 7  days (U.S. EPA, 2009d). For
more information on  state beach closures, please
visit the EPA's Beaches Web site: http://water.epa.
gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm.
                                                    The Virgin Islands National Park covers half of St. John
                                                    and almost all of Hassel Island (courtesy of NPS).
Table 9-7. Beach Notification Actions, Virgin Islands, 2004-2008 (U.S. EPA, 2009d)
Numbers and Percentages
Total number of beaches
Number of monitored beaches
Number of beaches affected by notification actions
Percentage of monitored beaches affected by notification
actions
2004
No data
No data
No data
No data

2005
45
45
32
71%

2006
45
45
8
18%

2007
45
45
3
7%

2008
43
43
8
19%

                                                                                                       261

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                 Summary
                        In 2004, NCA assessed the coastal areas of the U.S. territories of American Samoa,
                      Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The overall
                      condition of American Samoa coastal waters is good based on ratings for water quality
                      and fish tissue contaminants. Guam's coastal waters are also rated good, with all indices
                      measured rated good except benthic condition, which was rated good to fair. NCA did
                      not perform assessments for the Northern Mariana Islands. The overall coastal condition
                      of Puerto Rico's coastal waters is rated fair, with the water quality index rated good to fair,
                      the benthic index rated fair, and the sediment quality index rated poor. The U.S. Virgin
                      Islands' coastal waters are rated good to fair, with both water quality and benthic diversity
                      indices rated good, and the sediment  quality index rated fair to poor.
                        Guam and American Samoa are not located within LMEs. The NMFS Western Pacific
                      Region manages the fisheries in these waters in conjunction with those of the Insular
                      Pacific-Hawaiian LME. Landings from  the waters surrounding American Samoa, Guam,
                      and the Northern Mariana Islands are dominated by highly migratory pelagic species.
                      Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea LME, and
                      the reef fish stocks in their coastal waters are managed by the CFMC. Fishing pressure
                      in these areas has increased over time, along with growing human populations, greater
                      demands for fishery products, and technological improvements. Many stocks with a
                      known status are currently considered overfished.
                        Contamination in the coastal waters  of American Samoa and Guam has affected
                      human uses of these waters. American Samoa had one fish consumption advisory in
                      effect in 2006 for Inner Pago Pago Harbor due to arsenic, chromium, copper, DDT,  lead,
                      mercury, zinc, and PCBs. Two fish consumption advisories were in effect for Guam's
                      Orote Point and Apra Harbor for chlorinated pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. Puerto
                      Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report fish
                      consumption advisory information to EPA in 2006.
                        Ninety-three percent of American Samoa's monitored beaches were closed or under
                      advisory for some period of time during 2006 due to contamination. Guam monitored
                      33 beaches in 2006, all of which were closed or under advisory at some time during
                      the year due to contamination. The Northern Mariana Islands issued beach advisories
                      or closures for 74% of monitored beaches in 2006. In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
                      Islands, 35% and 18% of beaches, respectively, were affected by advisories or closures in
                      2006.
262

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    ;ing Is
ture Directions

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                  Emerging  Issues  and  Future  Directions
           Over the past decade, national coastal monitoring
        programs have consistently adapted to changing
        national priorities and emerging issues. As demand
        for coastal and marine resources increases due to
        growing populations and development, ecosystems
        are affected by the resulting environmental stress.
        The combination of multiple coastal stressors (e.g.,
        invasive species, hypoxia, emerging contaminants,
        climate change) will impact ecosystem function,
        likely undermining the provision of ecosystem
        services to human well-being. This  chapter presents
        the complexities of these combinations and stresses
        the need for targeted coastal monitoring efforts.
           Each consecutive report in the NCCR series has
        presented an expanded spatial extent of sampling,
        improved indices, and the current state of coastal
        monitoring science. Such improvements will
        continue as the NCA becomes the National Coastal
        Condition Assessment (NCCA), under the purview
        of the EPAs Office of Water (OW), for the next
        NCCR (National Coastal Condition Report V).
        The NCCA will be part of the National Aquatic
        Resource Survey program, an effort to assess the
        quality of various U.S. aquatic resources, including
        lakes, rivers and streams, and wetlands (see http://
        www.epa.gov/OWOW/monitoring/nationalsurveys.
        html). As part of this transformation, the NCCA
        will reflect changing priorities with greater focus
        on human health and evolving coastal issues. The
        NCCA will also include, for the first time, sampling
        in the Great Lakes and updated sampling for the
        non-conterminous U.S. states and territories (with
the exception of Alaska). The latest addition to
the NCCR list of indicators under the NCCA is
bacterial contamination. This indicator reflects
the evolution of the NCCA program towards
prioritizing human health, as well as a general
effort to expand estuarine monitoring efforts to
assess other existing and emerging coastal issues.
In addition, EPA has formed indicator workgroups
to reassess the indices, component indicators, and
cutpoints prior to the data analysis for the NCCR V.
   Improvements in coastal programs are occurring
on a much greater scale  as well. Under a directive
from President Obama,  an Interagency Ocean
Policy Task Force was formed in June of 2009 to
streamline federal decision making and management
of activities in our nation's coastal and ocean waters.
The Task Force drafted a set of recommendations
that highlighted nine priority areas, including
regional ecosystem protection and the integration
of ocean observing systems  and data platforms
(White House Council on Environmental Quality,
2009). The NCA program is particularly relevant
to this effort because it provides geospatially
referenced coastal environmental data that are based
on regional ecosystem delineations and integrate
information from other  federal agencies. The Task
Force also  drafted the CMSP Framework (discussed
in Chapter 2), which provides for a comprehensive
and integrated approach to  facilitating multiple uses
and activities in the nation's coastal waters without
undermining the  services generated by coastal
ecosystems.
        Boothbay Harbor (courtesy of Maine Department of Marine Resources).
264

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                                                     Climate Change

Ranger-guided surfcasting lesson, Cape Cod, MA
(courtesy of NPS).


Ecosystem Services
   Our nation's ecosystems provide vast amounts of
services that generate numerous social and economic
benefits to individuals and society as a whole. These
benefits range from energy production and nutrient
cycling to education and recreational activities. For
example, although estuaries comprise only 13% of
the land area of the continental United States, they
account for a large proportion of national ecosystem
services, including the provision of seafood and
pharmaceuticals, waste treatment, waste cycling,
coastal protection, and income generation from
tourism and recreational activities.
   Despite the benefits to human health and
social well-being ensured by these services, a lack
of scientific and socioeconomic knowledge has
prevented policy makers from fully considering
ecosystem services in planning efforts. In order
to minimize this gap, researchers in EPA's Office
of Research and Development developed the
Ecosystem Services Research Program (ESRP)
to identify,  map, model, and quantify ecosystem
services. The decision support framework generated
by this program will provide managers with the
tools to make decisions with knowledge of the value
ecosystem services provide and the potential costs of
their alteration. For the ESRP, see http://www.epa.
gov/ecology/.
   The priority areas identified by the Interagency
Ocean Policy Task Force included resiliency
and adaptation to climate change and ocean
acidification, issues that are being tackled by
numerous federal agencies, including the EPA.
There are three overarching impacts on coastal
waters from climate change: sea-level rise, rising
sea surface temperatures, and ocean acidification.
These impacts  interact in various ways. The
impacts may correlate directly, as is the case
with higher sea temperatures leading to sea-
level rise, or the combination of these impacts
may magnify individual impacts. For example,
rising temperatures and ocean acidification could
mutually and concurrently undermine the viability
of coral reefs. Rising sea temperatures may cause
coral bleaching events, while ocean acidification
may directly undermine the skeletal structures of
reefs. On the other hand, these three impacts may
also counteract one another. For example, increased
freshwater input from melting glaciers may actually
counterbalance some of the saltwater intrusion
(i.e., the movement of salt water into freshwater
aquifers or waterbodies) caused by sea-level rise,
although this effect would be regionally specific.
Overall landward saltwater movement will depend
on a combination of sea level rise, as well as changes
in precipitation,  runoff, and recharge in coastal
watersheds (Barlow, 2003).  Despite uncertain
interactions, climate change effects  will likely
significantly alter the composition,  productivity,
and functioning  of coastal ecosystems.
   Despite overwhelming scientific consensus
on the inevitability of climate change,
significant uncertainty as to the degree of impact
remains. Furthermore, regional differences in
geomorphology (i.e., landscape elevation and
shape), biogeochemistry, ecology, and even coastal
communities will affect sensitivity to climate change
around the United States (Field et al., 2000). This
inherent complexity makes  the science of climate
change a dynamic field; therefore, the information
presented below  is meant as an introduction to
current understanding, areas of research, and some
relevant programs.
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Sea Surface Temperature
   Since the 1880s, the Earth's surface temperature
has been rising. According to NASA estimates
(NASA, 2010), the rate of temperature increase has
accelerated over the past 30 years, and the previous
decade (2000—2009) was the warmest on record
(Figure 10-1). Sea surface temperatures rose by
approximately 0.3 degree Celsius during the past 10
years.
   Sea temperature directly affects oceanic
biophysical and chemical processes, as well as
ecosystem functions, such as the distribution,
function, and reproduction of plant and animal
species. Several severe consequences for coastal
ecosystems are associated with rising sea surface
temperatures, including changes in the frequency
and extent of harmful algal blooms, altered
or disrupted migrations of marine organisms,
increased hurricane intensity, and sea-level
rise (discussed below). The rate of sea surface
temperature increase will not be uniform across the
world. High latitudes will warm faster than low
latitudes due to differences in the reflective qualities
of ice and water. Sea water is less reflective than ice;
therefore,  the melting of ice near the poles would
result in the oceans absorbing more solar radiation
and energy, causing additional warming  closer
to the poles (GFDL, 2007). Between 1955 and
2003, the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean
increased by twice the global average rate (Smith et
al., 2010).
                                             Global Surface Mean Temperature Anomalies
                                   0.8
                                      1880
                                               1900
                                                       1920
                                                                1940
                                                                Year
                                                                         I960
                                                                                 1980
                                                                                          2000
                               Figure 10-1.  Global mean surface temperatures over time (NCDC, 2010).
    266

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   Effects on marine species will also vary based
on particular biological characteristics and local
conditions. Generally, mobile organisms will be
able to move to more hospitable habitats whereas
stationary organisms (e.g., coral) will be more
susceptible to any changes. However, increasing
air, soil, and water temperatures may have positive
effects for some flora (e.g., mangroves, salt marshes,
forested wetlands)  for which low temperatures
and freezing events are the limiting factors for
geographic distribution (Scavia et al., 2002). For
example, demersal (bottom-dwelling) species (e.g.,
cod, plaice, haddock, redfish, flounder) that are
found in the Atlantic Ocean are expected to migrate
northward, with current mid-Atlantic species
(e.g.,  butterfish, herring, mackerel, menhaden)
expanding as far north as the Gulf of Maine (Scavia
et al., 2002; Field et al., 2000). Population shifts
for individual species may alter predator-prey
relationships  and community dynamics, ultimately
impacting whole ecosystems (Field et al., 2000).
Other mechanisms, including  feeding, growth,
and reproduction,  will be impacted in diverse and
complex ways by rising sea temperatures (Smith et
al., 2010).
   Warming waters favor algal blooms, some of
which can produce toxins consumed by filter-
feeders like mussels and clams. These toxins
accumulate and can cause paralytic shellfish
poisoning in humans who eat them. Harmful
algae  can also cause deterioration of water quality
through the buildup of high biomass, which
degrades aesthetic, ecological, and recreational
values. Evidence indicates that climate warming
may benefit some species of harmful blue-green
algae  (cyanobacteria) by providing more optimal
conditions for their growth (Paerl and Huisman,
2008; 2009). Pvising sea surface temperatures
have also been associated with increases in
dinoflagellates (many harmful  algal bloom species
are dinoflagellates) and with an earlier appearance
of dinoflagellates in the seasonal cycle (Dale et al.,
2006).
   Living in above-optimal temperatures may
increase stress on individual organisms, reducing
growth, slowing metabolism, and weakening
immune systems (Scavia et al., 2002). High-
temperature variability leaves organisms stressed
and vulnerable to marine diseases, which favor
warmer waters. For example, when the El Nino
Southern Oscillation cycle increased in frequency
and severity in the mid-1970s, the Caribbean
became a disease hot spot, with virtual eradication
of staghorn and elkhorn corals and a sea urchin
species (Harvell et al., 1999).
  Pvising sea surface temperatures are already
altering tropical ecosystems via coral bleaching.
Corals lose their symbiotic algae and/or their
pigments under stressful conditions, most notably
anomalously high sea surface temperatures (^1
degree C above average seasonal maxima), resulting
in a whitening of corals known as bleaching
(though bleaching events have also occurred  with
anomalously low sea surface temperatures). Major
bleaching events have been noted throughout the
world's oceans since the 1980s, with a particularly
severe bleaching event affecting the Caribbean in
late 2005 (Donner, 2009). This event  resulted in a
51-5% decrease in mean coral cover between 2005
and 2006, due to  the bleaching effects coupled with
a spread of marine diseases (Woody et al., 2008).
The predicted  rise in future sea surface temperatures
will likely increase the occurrence of bleaching
events  and marine diseases, exacerbating existent
coral stressors, including pollution, destructive
fishing, diseases, and loss of key herbivores.
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The geographic range of mangrove may increase with
rising global temperatures (courtesy of USGS).
                                                                                                            267

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         Coral bleaching is caused as a result of rising sea surface
         temperatures (courtesty of NOAA),


           The socioeconomic consequences of rising
         sea surface temperatures could affect numerous
         coastal communities throughout the United
         States. Unsightly algal blooms will likely decrease
         swimming, boating, and tourism activities, while
         noxious  algae may actually have detrimental
         impacts  on human health (NSTC, 2003).
         Harmful algal blooms in coastal waters have been
         conservatively estimated to result in economic
         impacts  in the United States of at least $82
         million/year with the majority of impacts in the
         public health and commercial fisheries sectors
         (Hoagland and Scatasta, 2006).  Impacts of a single
         bloom event on commercial fisheries can be very
         significant.  In 2005, a major toxic algae bloom
         caused state agencies to close the shellfish beds
         from Maine to Martha's Vineyard, resulting in an
         estimated $20 million loss to the Massachusetts
         shellfish industry (NOAA, 2010).
           The economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands,
         Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Pacific island territories
         rely heavily upon their surrounding coral reefs for
         numerous ecosystem services,  including fisheries,
recreation, tourism, and coastal protection. Reefs
are important habitat, spawning, and nursery
grounds for numerous commercially viable fish
species. In Hawaii, surrounding coral reefs are
largely responsible for annual contributions of $60
million from the fishery industry and $800 million
from the marine tourism industry (Friedlander
et al., 2008).  A 2001 study estimated the annual
use value of Florida's southeastern coral reefs at
over $250 million, with a capitalized value of $8.5
billion (Johns et al., 2001). Therefore, the long-
term survival of coral reefs is crucial for coastal
communities and economies. Coral reefs also serve
as buffers against storm surges. With increasing
hurricane strength, resulting from climate change,
the role of reefs as protective buffers will likely be
diminished. For more information on the potential
impacts of rising sea surface temperatures on coastal
and marine ecosystems, see NOAA's Ocean and
Coastal Resource management Web site at http://
coastalmanagement.noaa.gov/climate.html.

Sea-Level Rise
   Rising sea surface temperatures may also impact
our coasts by contributing to sea-level rise via a
process known as thermal expansion (when water
warms, it expands and thereby increases  in volume).
This volume increase along with freshwater input
from melting ice sheets, glaciers, and ice caps will
cause sea levels to rise. During the 20th century,
the global average sea level rose between 4.8 and
8.8 inches (U.S. EPA, 2010a). Regional  rates,
known as relative sea-level rise, differ because they
are measured as the  sum of global sea-level rise and
regional vertical land movements (resulting from
regional tectonics, post-glacial isostatic adjustments,
natural sediment compaction, or subsidence  due
to the withdrawal of subsurface fluids such as
groundwater, oil, and natural gas) (Figure 10-2).
Throughout the 20th century, sea-level rise in the
mid-Atlantic and Gulf was  5 to 6 inches more
than the  global  average. Rising sea levels may cause
beach erosion, land  submersion, wetland loss,
coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion into estuaries
and aquifers,  and greater damages from hurricanes
due to higher storm surge.
268

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                        Sea Level Trends
                         (mm/year)
                         • 9 to 12
                         • 6 to 9
                         • 3 to 6
                         • Oto3
                         • -3 to 0
                           -6 to -3
                         a -9 to -6
                         • -12to-9
                         • -ISto-12
                         • -18to-15

                                    *
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Figure 10-2. Trends in sea level (NOAA, 2008).
   The impacts associated with sea-level changes
will be varied based on relative sea-level rise
and local geographic, biological, ecological, and
socioeconomic conditions. Shallow coastal aquifers
in places like the Everglades are susceptible to
salinity increases (i.e., saltwater intrusion), which
can potentially impact communities of plants
and animals with limited tolerance to salinity
fluctuations and complicating water intakes for
coastal communities. The East and Gulf coasts are
more susceptible to inundation because of their
gently sloping coasts and developed barrier islands,
which are prone to erosion (Scavia et al., 2002). In
Florida, where 90% of state residents live on  the
coast, a rise of 23 inches by 2050 would cost  the
state $92 billion per year due to losses in tourism
and real estate; a rise of 27 inches by 2060 would
result in 70% of the city of Miami being under
water (Schrope, 2010).
   For several coastal communities throughout the
United States, the effects of sea-level rise are already
visible. On Alaska's Sarichef Island, reductions
in protective sea ice, thawing permafrost, and
alterations to natural hydrography resulting from
armoring shorelines have caused massive storm
surge erosion. Located on this island is the 400-year
old village of Shishmaref, which is facing potential
evacuation because of this erosion (NOAA, 2006).
In Rhode Island, the relative sea level rose by over
10 inches during the 20th century, causing coastal
freshwater wetlands to begin transitioning to salt
marshes (Goss, 2002).
   The combined impact of thermal expansion and
ice loss from ice caps and small glaciers is likely to
raise sea level by approximately 2 feet by the end
of the century. Ice loss from the Greenland and
Antarctic ice sheets could contribute an additional
1 foot of sea level rise (NRC, 2011). Migration of
                                                                                                             269

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         ecosystems like coastal marshes, mangroves, and
         wetlands will be hampered by coastal armoring
         infrastructure (e.g., dikes, bulkheads). This would
         result in a critical loss of the services, such as
         nursery, refuge, and forage habitats; nutrient
         cycling; and  waste management. Sea-level rise
         would undermine other services as well, with
         saltwater intrusion affecting fishery productivity,
         beach erosion destroying crucial habitats, and
         flooding altering the infrastructure of coastal
         communities. For example, researchers estimate
         that Delaware may lose the services generated by
         21% of its wetlands by 2100 and become subject to
         100-year floods three to four times more frequently
         (Najjar et al., 2000). For more information on
         potential impacts and current preparation strategies,
         see the  EPA's Web site on coastal zones and sea-level
         rise: http://epa.gov/climatechange/effects/coastal/
         index.html.

         Ocean Acidification
           The  third  major impact of elevated CO2
         concentrations in the atmosphere on coastal
         ecosystems will be ocean acidification, which
         is a decrease  in pH due to oceanic uptake of
         atmospheric  carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide
         dissolves in seawater, it acts as an acid, ultimately
         causing decreases in the amount of available
         calcium carbonate, a compound necessary for
         the growth and maintenance of calcifying marine
         organisms, such as corals, crustaceans, and mollusks
         (Figure 10-3). About one-third of the carbon
         dioxide released by human activity over the past
         200 years has been taken up by the oceans (Fabry,
         2008).  In fact, without this sink for carbon dioxide,
         current atmospheric concentrations would be
         55% higher  than present levels (Fabry et al., 2009;
         Sabine  et al., 2004). This uptake is reflected in
         changing ocean chemistry. Since the  beginning of
         the Industrial Revolution, ocean pH has decreased
         by approximately 30%, a rate of change not
         witnessed in  over 800,000 years (Ridgewell and
         Zeebe,  2005).
           Many important marine organisms like
         reef-building corals, mollusks (oysters), and
         echinoderms (sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers)
use calcium carbonate to form their skeletons.
Reductions in the availability of this compound
may negatively impact various organism functions,
including metabolism, reproduction, development,
immunity, and skeletal density, potentially
increasing vulnerability to physical damage, coral
bleaching events, erosion, predation, and diseases,
which often favor warmer temperatures (Scavia et
al., 2002). Corals and other marine calcifiers near
the poles will likely be impacted first. Because cold
water can hold more gas than warm water, the
oceans closest to the poles will absorb more carbon
dioxide and be more acidic.
   Although there is no decisive number for future
carbon dioxide concentrations, current models and
scenarios based on assumptions of future growth
and development estimate that atmospheric carbon
dioxide concentrations will likely exceed 500 ppm
by mid-century.  This would result in approximately
a 0.4 decrease in surfacewater pH and a
corresponding 50% decrease in calcification rates
(Feely et  al., 2008). Ocean acidification may have
important long-term socioeconomic impacts on
valuable commercial fisheries like shellfish. In 2007,
mollusks contributed 19%, or $748 million, of the
ex-vessel  commercial harvest revenues in the United
States (Cooley and Doney,  2009). Effects on lower-
level organisms may also  impact the food web, as
larger predators effectively lose a food source.
This monitoring station measures calcification rates to
determine the impact of ocean acidification on coral
growth at Fowey Rocks Light Reef in Biscayne National
Park, FL (courtesy of USGS).
270

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             Ocean Acidification
             i
               Atmospheric
              carbon dioxide

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           Figure 10-3. Process of ocean acidification.
Climate Change Effects Summary
   The additive effects of increasing sea surface
temperatures, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification
will compound existing stresses from population
growth and development  (e.g., sediment, nutrient,
and toxic pollution; habitat loss or degradation;
resource consumption). These effects increase with
climate change, doubling or tripling the impacts
of existent stressors. For instance, northward
migrations of commercially valuable fishery species
such as cod, haddock, and halibut would have
serious regional impacts on fishing communities in
the Northeast Coast region, where fish stocks have
already decreased due to overfishing and pollution.
Communities reliant upon tourism in the Southeast
Coast region and island territories, which are
already subject to pressures from development,
would be adversely impacted by coral depletion
resulting from the combination of higher sea
surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Rising
sea levels could also accelerate current wetland
losses and damage from excessive sediment and
nutrient runoff from coastal development.
   Comprehensive monitoring programs
of potential indicators, such as sea surface
temperature, pH, and relative sea-level rise, are
integral to effective initiatives addressing climate-
change effects. Secondary effects such as species
migration, reproduction, and juvenile survival rates;
coral bleaching, skeleton density, and reef building;
and changes in salinity, sediment, and nutrient
concentrations may also need to be assessed.
Current conditions can serve as reference points or
benchmarks against which future changes can be
measured.
   Monitoring of climate change impacts on
ecosystems is complicated by the aforementioned
regional variations and complex interactions of
rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification,
and sea-level rise. These interactions, along with
cumulative effects of other coastal stressors, may
complicate the evaluation of the impacts of separate
factors, especially with regards to impacts on
whole ecosystems. Furthermore, although physical
parameters (e.g., sea-level rise) and chemical
parameters (e.g., temperature, salinity, oxygen,
                                                                                                            271

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nutrients, total alkalinity, pH) can be measured,
monitoring of biological effects of climate change
on our oceans cannot take place until appropriate
parameters exist. More research is necessary to
determine biological effects (on organism function)
from the species, population, community, and
ecosystem levels. Changes to these functions may
not become apparent until there are severe  impacts
on populations.
   Furthermore, trend analysis requires years of
data to separate the influence of seasonal variations
and anomalies (including those associated with
the El Nino cycle and storm events) from climate
change-related trends. For instance, researchers
have shown that pH can vary with depth and time.
Strong seasonal and interannual variability has been
noted in surface pH in the central North Pacific.
In addition, there is evidence of pH stratification
that  is influenced by physical and biogeochemical
processes (Dore et al., 2009). Trend analysis of pH
in coastal waters is also hampered by a general lack
of data, complex nearshore circulation processes,
and coarse model resolution in global ocean-
atmosphere coupled models (Fabry et al., 2009).
Although the presence of distinct strata is more
relevant for ocean monitoring, vertical gradients in
oxygen, pH, and sea surface temperature do occur
in estuaries as well. Furthermore, these gradients
are influenced by seasonal fluxes. These factors
are important to consider when  developing and
interpreting ocean monitoring programs. It should
be noted that the drawback to needing long-term
trends to separate seasonal variability from  trends
in climate change indicators is that by the time the
trends are identified, they may be irreversible.
The EPA and other federal, state,
and local agencies are developing new
means and expanding existing programs
to address the unique challenges posed
by the potential effects of climate change.
Below is a list of an abbreviated list of
some of these programs:
U.S. Global Change and Research
Program (GCRP)
 - Integrates research from I 3 federal
   agencies
 - http://www.globalchange.gov/
U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics
(GLOBEC)
 - Examines the effects of climate
   change on marine ecosystems and
   fisheries
 - http://www.usglobec.org/features/
   overview, php
Integrated Ocean Observing System
(IOOS)
 - Network of coastal and ocean
   monitoring efforts
 - http://ioos.gov/about/
EPA's Climate  Change Program
 - Provides information on current
   science and research initiatives
 - http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/
NOAA's  Prototype Climate Service
 - Comprehensive source for all
   climate-related information
   generated by NOAA
 - http://www.noaa.gov/climate.html
EPA's Climate  Ready Estuaries (U.S.
EPA, 20090
 - An initiative to assist the National
   Estuary Programs to assess climate
   change vulnerabilities and develop
   and implement adaptation strategies
 - http://www.epa.gov/
   climatereadyestuaries/
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Invasive Species
   Climate-change impacts on populations of
marine organisms and community dynamics may
increase ecosystem susceptibility to invasive species.
As defined under a 1999 Executive Order, invasive
species are "non-native species that cause or are
likely to cause harm to the economy, environment,
or human health" (NISC, 2008). As highlighted
in the Great Lakes regional chapter (Chapter 7),
invasive species are already an issue in our aquatic
ecosystems. Negative impacts of invasive species
include reduced biodiversity, altered habitats,
changes in water chemistry and biogeochemical
processes, hydrological modifications, and changes
to food webs. Although the impact of invasive
species is by definition negative, non-native species
can have positive contributions to ecosystem
sustainability. For example, some non-native
species, which do not meet the definition as
invasive species, have been introduced purposefully
as a means of biological control for invasive species.
For example, salmon have been introduced to the
Great Lakes to control alewives. Even species that
are invasive and harmful in one ecosystem may have
a different effect in another ecosystem.
   Invasive species are present in virtually all
coastal waters of the United States. This fact can
be attributed to  the pathways of introduction,
including ship-borne vectors, aquaculture escapes,
and accidental or intentional releases. These
pathways are prevalent throughout our coasts and
have increased in both frequency and magnitude
over the past several decades (NISC, 2008).
Shipping activities account for over two-thirds
of recent introductions, with ballast water as the
most common method of introduction (U.S. EPA,
20104
   Although the EPA and other agencies are
working to control invasive species, interactions
with climate change will likely complicate these
efforts. Climate change may alter pathways of
introduction; influence the establishment, spread,
or distribution of species; or change resiliency of
native habitats, which could change the impacts
of non-native species so that they meet the
definition of invasive species. For instance, rising
sea surface temperatures will likely force some
marine organisms to shift poleward, and species
with limited capacity for migration will decline
in their southern ranges or even become extinct,
leaving niches open for invasive species. Even in
instances where the native species remain viable in
warmer habitats, altered food availability, reduced
reproduction rates, and diminished protective
habitat may undermine population health and
resistance to invasive species.
The recent rise in sightings of non-native Asian tiger
shrimp off the U.S.Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts
has government scientists working to determine the
cause of the increase and the possible consequences
for native fish and seafood in those waters (courtesy of
Ryan Werner, NCAA).
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           Although many federal, state, and regional
         governing bodies have established programs to
         address invasive species, these efforts most often
         do not address potential impacts of climate
         change. In recognition of this informational and
         regulatory gap, the EPA hosted two workshops
         in 2006 to assess management needs and to
         specifically highlight potential considerations for
         aquatic invasive species. The latter workshop laid
         the groundwork for the report Effects of Climate
         Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications
        for Management and Research (U.S. EPA, 2008b),
         which highlights both the potential interactions of
         climate change and invasive species and the role of
         expanding management.
                   Other sources of information on
                   invasive species:
                   EPA's Invasive Species Program
                   - General information on invasive
                     species and control initiatives
                   - http://www.epa.gov/owow/invas ive_
                     species/
                   Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force
                   - Intergovernmental agency dedicated
                     to preventing and controlling aquatic
                     nuisance species
                   - http://www.anstaskforce.gov/default.
                     php
                   USDA's National Invasive Species
                   Information Center
                   - Comprehensive source of
                     information for aquatic and
                     terrestrial invasive species
                   - http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/
                   Smithsonian Environmental Research
                   Center - Marine Invasions Research
                   Laboratory
                   - Research on biological invasions in
                     coastal marine ecosystems
                   - http://serc.si.edu/labs/marine_
                      invasions/
Hypoxia
   Climate change may also worsen hypoxlc
conditions (low oxygen availability in water),
which are already undermining ecosystem health
throughout coastal waters as outlined in Chapter 1
(Introduction) and Chapter 5 (Gulf Coast). Bays
and estuaries that have limited water exchange and
experience water column stratification resulting
from massive freshwater input into a saltwater
system are particularly susceptible to hypoxia,
as evidenced in the Gulf of Mexico (Diaz and
Rosenberg, 2008). In fact, eutrophication is
affecting over half of all national  estuaries (NSTC,
2003). Areas of heightened upwelling are also
susceptible to hypoxia. Upwelling is the process  by
which coastal winds push surface waters offshore,
allowing nutrient-rich, oxygen-poor waters from
the deep to replace them. These nutrient-rich
waters stimulate plankton growth, which ultimately
depletes oxygen levels. Increased  upwelling is
hypothesized to be the cause of dead zones off the
coast of Oregon that began to arise during the
summer of 2002 (Juncosa, 2008).
Saginaw Bay, Ml (courtesy of NOAA).
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   The frequency and extent of hypoxic conditions
are increasing in coastal and estuarine waters
(Rabalais et al., 2002a), mostly as a result of
increasing nitrogen from agricultural runoff
(NSTC, 2003)- Increased levels of nutrients (i.e.,
nitrogen and phosphorus)  in coastal waters can lead
to toxic or noxious algal blooms, decreased water
clarity, hypoxic conditions, and habitat degradation,
all of which will impact the provision of ecosystem
services (NSTC, 2003). The lack of oxygen in
deeper, cooler water during the summer decreases
the availability of these waters to marine species
and may undermine the reproductive capacity of
many fish species that tend to spawn or nurse in
these waters during this time of year (Diaz and
Rosenberg, 2008), decreasing fishery productivity
with subsequent impacts on the recreational and
commercial fishing industries (NSTC, 2003).
Effects on higher trophic levels may also result if
demersal species are deprived of a valuable food
source due to reductions in benthic populations
caused by lower bottom-water oxygen  levels or if
predation in benthos is limited by predators' low
tolerance to reduced oxygen concentrations  (Diaz
and Rosenberg, 2008).

Climate Change and Hypoxia
   The future extent and severity of hypoxia in
coastal ecosystems will depend on the success of
efforts to limit nutrient input and the impacts
of climate change, which may alter oxygen
concentrations, precipitation, and mixing within
the water column. Warmer waters may cause
reduced oxygen concentrations due to  decreased
oxygen solubility and increased production of
oxygen-consuming bacteria, while simultaneously
increasing the metabolic rate, and thereby oxygen
needs, of cold-blooded aquatic species.
   Climate models also predict alterations to other
processes affecting  hypoxia, including precipitation
and coastal winds.  Precipitation variability
predicted under some climate models could cause
more dry years followed by extreme rain events,
resulting in nutrient influxes to coastal waters
from fertilizers that build up on soils during dry
years (Scavia et al., 2002). Potential increases in
precipitation and extreme rainfall events would lead
to greater agricultural and urban runoff, ultimately
increasing the  amount of nutrients, sediment, and
contaminants  entering coastal waters. The timing of
freshwater inflows may also be a factor as increased
air temperatures may lead to earlier snowmelt and
earlier inflows  to coastal waters (Field et al., 2000).
Reductions in  summerflows due to earlier snowmelt
may deprive estuaries of important freshwater
input during times of greatest evapotranspiration,
increasing estuarine salinities and stratification
(Field et al., 2000),  a process already occurring
in San Francisco Bay. Climate change may also
increase the upwelling process by creating stronger
coastal winds and greater storm intensity, both
of which can increase water-column mixing
(Juncosa, 2008). On the other hand, because
warmer waters are less efficient at absorbing oxygen,
increased sea surface temperatures may strengthen
stratification by preventing oxygen from reaching
deeper ocean layers  (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008).
Precise predictions of future effects are limited
by the complicated  interactions of these variables
impacting coastal ecosystems.
   Climate variability may already be influencing
the size  of the  hypoxic zone (i.e., dead zone) in the
Gulf of Mexico. By one estimate this variability
may have contributed as much as 20% of variance
to the size of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone since
the 1950s (Cronin and Walker, 2006). According
to recent model simulations (Cronin and Walker,
2006), Gulf of Mexico hypoxia is highly sensitive
to riverine nitrate influx, freshwater discharge,
and ambient water temperatures. These modeling
efforts indicated that although a 30% decrease
in the nitrate flux of the Mississippi River would
correspond to  a 37% reduction in the size of the
hypoxic zone,  a 20% increase in Mississippi River
discharge would produce an equal increase in size
of the hypoxic zone (Cronin and Walker, 2006).
According to climate projections, such an increase
in Mississippi  River discharge is possible, which
would mean that reductions in nitrate flux would
have to  be greater to make up the difference (Justic
et al., 2003).
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Other sources of information on
hypoxia:
Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico
Watershed Nutrient Task Force
- Consists of S federal and  10 state
  agencies, established to reduce
  hypoxia in the Gulf
- http://www.epa.gov/msbasin/
NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Watch
- Partnership between NOAA, NCDC,
  NMFS, and CoastWatch to develop
  real-time data of the Gulf hypoxic
  area
- http://ecowatch.ncddc.noaa.gov/
  hypoxia
             Emerging Contaminants
               As monitoring efforts evolve to include
             indicators of climate change, invasive species, and
             hypoxia, research is also being directed toward
             indentifying contaminants of emerging concern
             (CECs). This term encompasses a broad range
             of contaminants, including pharmaceuticals
             and personal care products (PPCP); endocrine
             disrupters; pesticides; persistent organic
             pollutants such as perfluoronated compounds;
             and nanomaterials. Although the term "emerging"
             can refer to a completely new contaminant, such
             as nanoparticles, the term also refers  to new
             byproducts of production, new metabolites of a
             parent compound, and newly detectable chemicals.
             Categorically, CECs often have certain similar
             characteristics, including low detectable levels,
             multiple sources, limited lexicological information,
             and the perception of being a long-term threat to
             human health, public safety, or the environment.
               The sheer number and pathways of entry of
             potential CECs make monitoring and analysis of
             potential effects a formidable task. According to
             the American Chemical Society, less than 300,000
             of the 39 million chemicals in use today are
either inventoried or regulated, and the number
of available chemicals increases every day. The
pathways of entry into the environment for CECs
are numerous and may include effluents from
WWTPs, which generally do not treat sewage
for pharmaceuticals; concentrated animal feeding
operations; septic systems; aquaculture operations;
and surface application of manure and biosolids.
  Pharmaceuticals are a good example of the
potential effects of CECs. These compounds are
designed to have biological effects at low doses;
therefore, even limited exposure may have subtle
effects on non-target populations. The thousands
of distinct compounds in pharmaceuticals can
also have potential effects when combined with
other pharmaceuticals or contaminants. These
compounds may bioaccumulate in the food web
or persist in the environment, affecting multiple
generations. Of particular concern is the potential
for pharmaceuticals to act as endocrine disrupters,
mimicking, inhibiting, stimulating, or blocking
the endocrine system that regulates hormones.
For estuarine ecosystems, observed effects on
fish and amphibians are particularly noteworthy.
Endocrine-active contaminants have been identified
as a potential cause of fish that have developed
organs of both sexes downstream of a WWTP
in Boulder Creek, CO (Woodling et al., 2006),
and around high-density population and farming
areas on the Potomac River (Blazer et  al., 2007).
Other CECs may also act as endocrine disrupters.
Atrazine, the most commonly applied herbicide in
the United States, has been in use for over 40 years
and acts as an endocrine disrupter in amphibians.
Feminization of male frogs exposed to atrazine
has occurred in the laboratory and in the wild and
has led to speculations that this pesticide may be
associated with global amphibian declines (Hayes et
al., 2002a,b).
  Increased documentation of such ecological
impacts and rising concerns about the effects of
pharmaceuticals in our drinking waters have led
to increased research and monitoring efforts. The
EPA's Office of Science and Technology recently
conducted a pilot study of PPCPs in fish tissue
    276

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and found the samples contained anti-depressants;
anti-histamines; anti-hypertension, antilipemic,
and anti-seizure drugs; and personal care products
(Ramirez et al., 2009). In 2008 and 2009, this
effort expanded under the National Rivers and
Streams Assessment to include sampling for PPCPs
in fish tissue at 150 sites (U.S. EPA, 201 Ob). The
upcoming NCCA will include sampling for PFCs,
PBDEs, and pharmaceuticals in fish tissue collected
from the Great Lakes. The EPA is also assessing
the capacity of existing regulatory tools to address
CECs.
   In comparison to legacy pollutants, monitoring
for CECs is relatively new. As understanding of
which contaminants fit into this category expands,
monitoring will become more comprehensive.
This necessitates more research on all categories
of CECs and the development of better detection
methods for compounds that are present in
           Other sources of information on
           CECs:
           EPA's Aquatic Life Criteria (U.S. EPA,
           2008a)
           - White paper on Aquatic Life Criteria
             for CECs
           - http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/
             criteria/aqlife/cec.html
           EPA's Endocrine Disrupter Screening
           Program
           - Information on EPA's approach and
             progress for screening and testing
             chemicals for endocrine disrupting
             potential
           - http://www.epa.gov/endo/index.htm
           USGS: Emerging  Contaminants Project
           - Information on chemicals about
             their threat to the environment and
             human health
           - http://toxics.usgs.gov/regional/emc/
complex ecosystems. Also, water quality standards/
maximum concentrations for ambient water do
not exist for most CECs; therefore, even detectable
contaminants may not be included in managerial
decisions. Monitoring for effects of CECs, such as
alterations to reproductive organs in individuals or
the gender balance of populations, would require
establishing often questionable cause-and-effect
relationships (changes to species or populations
may be due to other environmental variables)
and be overly reactive to have positive effects on
management decisions.

Microbial Pathogens
   While monitoring programs  for CECs  are
in relative infancy or an  early developmental
phase, testing waters for pathogens (e.g., disease-
causing bacteria, viruses, microorganisms) is more
developed but still evolving. The upcoming  NCCA
will include an assessment of coastal water pathogen
contamination, using Enterococci as an indicator
of fecal bacteria contamination. As revealed  in the
Beach Advisory sections of this report, the majority
of beach closings with known pollution sources
are due to the presence of harmful pathogens from
untreated or under-treated sewage (including from
combined sewer overflows, septic systems, and
WWTPs). States establish their  own guidance for
bacterial contamination, although their criteria
must be as minimally as protective  of human health
as EPA's 1986  bacteria criteria (U.S. EPA, 1986).
Some states have adopted even more restrictive
guidance. Beach closures present a non-uniform
picture of coastal water contamination because
the criteria used to trigger a beach closure vary
from state to state. The inclusion of microbial
pathogens as an NCCA indicator will allow more
comparability  between regions and across states.
   Monitoring pathogens in recreational coastal
waters is also indicative of the EPA OW's  focus
on human health. The chosen pathogen for
monitoring, Enterococci, is recommended  by the
EPA as the  best indicator of health risk in salt water
used for recreation because of its ability to survive
in saline environments. This recommendation was
.O
 O
O

                                                                                                           277

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         based on a series of studies conducted by the EPA
         to determine the correlation between different
         bacterial indicators and the occurrence of digestive
         system illnesses at swimming beaches (U.S. EPA,
         2009e). Detection of Enterococci may indicate the
         possible presence of pathogenic bacteria and the
         potential health risk of swimming in and eating
         shellfish  harvested from contaminated waters.
         Microbial contamination is addressed under
         the Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates
         contamination of finished drinking water and
         source waters, and under the Clean Water Act,
         which enables regulation of certain  sources  for
         the protection of surface water for drinking water,
         recreational, and aquatic food source uses.
         Public beaches are monitored for pathogen
         contamination and closed when levels exceed state
         standards (courtesy of USGS).
Conclusion
   The inclusion of Enterococci as an indicator of
microbial pathogens is indicative of the evolving
process of coastal monitoring and the NCA
program. This chapter highlighted other emerging
concerns for coastal waters and their invariable,
although uncertain, interactions with the effects
of climate change. Although monitoring of
pathogens is a relatively straightforward process
based on predetermined unhealthy concentrations
of microbials and likely exposure scenarios,
establishing indicators for CECs and the impacts of
climate change is more complicated.
   Where monitoring of direct climate change
effects is limited or prohibitive in cost, secondary
effects on marine organisms, populations,
community dynamics, predator—prey relationships,
and whole ecosystems may be observed. Identifying
trends from monitoring is complicated by
anomalies (e.g., El Nino/La Nina, storm events),
interactions between  effects,  and data duration
(analyses on time-series data require several years of
regular recording).
   Despite the intrinsic difficulty of incorporating
these issues into  the NCCA program, EPA and
other federal agencies recognize the evolving
nature of coastal issues, links with potential climate
change effects, and the need  to perpetually update
monitoring programs. As shown throughout
this chapter, many programs already exist to
address these emerging issues, and the scientific
community is researching new indicators to adopt
in monitoring programs.
                                   For more information on microbial pathogens:
                                   EPA's Water Quality Criteria: microbial pathogens
                                   - Information on how existing regulations address microbial pathogens
                                   - http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/humanhealth/microbial/
278

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,

         IV
       a
       w

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