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Assessing the Condition of Aquatic Resources in Near-Coastal Waters Along the US Western and Southeastern Continental Shelf

Jeffrey L. Hyland 1, Walter G. Nelson 2, and J. Kevin Summers 3

1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, Charleston SC, USA
2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Newport OR, USA
3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Breeze FL, USA

An effort is underway by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and coastal states to assess condition of aquatic resources in near-coastal waters of the continental shelf on both coasts of the U.S. Methods follow the probabilistic sampling approach of EMAP (Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program) to support statistical estimation of the spatial extent of condition with respect to various measured indicators. Sampling was conducted along the west coast in June 2003 at 150 stations from Straits of Juan de Fuca, WA to Pt. Conception, CA at depths of 30-120m. Indicators at each site included measures of general habitat condition, water quality, benthic condition, and pollutant exposure. A companion survey, led by the Southern California Water Resources Research Project, also was conducted between Pt. Conception and the Mexican border. Along the U.S. southeastern coast, similar methods were used in 2004 to assess condition at 50 stations in shelf waters (~10-100m) from Nags Head, NC to West Palm Beach, FL. Results of these surveys provide new information for assessing condition in near-coastal waters over multiple state, regional, and national spatial scales. In addition, stations are included in all five NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries on the west coast, as well as the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary on the east coast, thus providing an opportunity to assess condition in sanctuaries versus surrounding shelf waters. The program also demonstrates the benefits of performing science through partnerships bringing together complementary capabilities and resources from a variety of federal, state, and academic institutions.

Keywords: condition of aquatic resources, near-coastal, continental shelf waters, U.S. west coast, U.S. southeastern coast, South Atlantic Bight, science through partnerships, EMAP

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