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Research Technical Report

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SIMoN: Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network

MBNMS (October 2000)

Technical Report, 27pp.


This document is the blueprint for a comprehensive, integrated monitoring network to detect natural and human induced changes to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its resources.

Program Goals - Comprehensive, long-term monitoring is a fundamental element of resource management and conservation. The Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) has been design in partnership with the regional science and management community to identify natural and human induced changes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). The integration of high quality scientific research and long-term monitoring data sets through this program will furnish the information needed for effective management and provide a greater basic understanding of the Sanctuary, its resources and its processes. The principal goals of SIMoN are to:

  • Integrate existing monitoring conducted in the MBNMS,
  • Initiate basic surveys or characterizations of all habitats and regions of the MBNMS,
  • Initiate specific, question driven monitoring efforts with fixed durations,
  • Establish a series of essential long-term monitoring efforts that will continue into the future, and
  • Provide timely and pertinent information to managers and decision makers, the research community, and the general public.

Process and Products - The program presented here was built in a systematic manner over two years. The MBNMS has established ties with existing programs and has documented and prioritized important areas of monitoring need. The SIMoN program will utilize existing data sets, support and augment current research/monitoring efforts, and initiate new efforts to address important gaps in our knowledge of the Sanctuary and its resources. The strength of this program is that the MBNMS will serve as the hub for regional ecosystem monitoring. Local scientists will continue to collect the large majority of monitoring data, but the Sanctuary will help generate much of the funds required to maintain or expand some existing efforts and to initiate new programs. The funds secured by the MBNMS will be granted to researchers and institutions for specific monitoring efforts through annual requests for proposals (RFP's). RFP topics will be decided on by a committee of scientists and managers working from a list of priority areas of need, whereas experts from around the nation will rigorously review proposals.

Through SIMoN, the MBNMS will also integrate and interpret results of individual efforts in a large ecosystemwide context and continuously update and disseminate data summaries to facilitate the communication between researchers, managers, educators, and the public. Timely and pertinent information will be provided to all parties through a SIMoN web site, annual symposium, and a series of technical and public reports (i.e., annual "State of the Sanctuary" reports).

While SIMoN has been designed to serve as a comprehensive monitoring network long into the future, it will have a phased approach with periodic external reviews. The first phase of the SIMoN effort will include an initial year for instituting the various program components (proposed for 2001), a second year for the initiation of preliminary monitoring efforts, and four following years for installing full scale monitoring programs throughout the Sanctuary.

Priority Areas of Need and Recommendations - A two-day workshop with over 80 regional academic scientists and resource managers produced a series of priority questions that must be addressed for effective monitoring of the MBNMS and its resources. These results were then evaluated for common themes, compared with information on historic data sets and existing monitoring efforts to identify gaps, and synthesized into Sanctuary-wide "areas of need" by a scientific advisory committee and MBNMS staff. Based on this assessment, the following areas of need were identified:

  1. Overarching Programs
    1. Basic surveys and long-term monitoring
    2. Historic data
  2. Specific Focus Programs
    1. Anthropogenic inputs
    2. Fishing and other consumptive activities
    3. Effectiveness of protected areas
    4. Coastal erosion
    5. Estuary and wetland modification
    6. Non-consumptive, physical human disturbances
  3. Rapid Response Programs
    1. Unforeseen extraordinary changes

It is the intent of the SIMoN program that existing efforts will be continued or enhanced and new programs initiated in the context of the areas of need.

Conclusions - SIMoN will be a comprehensive, longterm program that takes an ecosystem approach to identify and understand changes to a large marine protected area. It will provide resource managers with the information needed for effective decision making and make possible an unparalleled basic understanding of a complex and important marine environment. SIMoN will also facilitate the critical but often overlooked communication between researchers, resource managers, educators and the public. Finally, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program is interested in using SIMoN as a model monitoring program for other marine sanctuaries nationwide.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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