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National Coastal Condition Reports

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

State of the Coast

The Nation's Coastal Waters Receive a Fair Rating

May 11, 2012
Lewes and Rehoboth Canal in Delaware

Coastal waters provide many environmental and economic benefits to local communities, however, these waters are vulnerable to pollution from a variety of sources.

The fourth National Coastal Condition Report (NCCR IV), part of a series of reports that rate the overall condition of U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes, was released in April. The overall condition of our coastal waters was rated fair based on data from 2003 to 2006. Southeastern Alaska and American Samoa received the highest overall condition scores and the Great Lakes region received the lowest overall score.

The report focuses on the health of both nearshore and offshore coastal systems using consistent indicators of water quality, sediment quality, benthic community condition, habitat loss, and fish tissue contaminants. In addition to these data, NCCR IV also includes, for the first time, the status of the ecological condition for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

These reports are designed to help us better understand the condition of our nation’s coastal waters, whether that condition is getting better or worse, and how different regions compare. They are designed to support more informed decisions concerning the protection of natural resources and to increase public awareness about the extent and seriousness of pollution in our coastal waters.

This report was developed through collaborative efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (overall report lead), NOAA (National Ocean Service and National Marine Fisheries Service), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, coastal states, and the National Estuary Programs. The first National Coastal Condition Report was released in 2001 and subsequent reports have been published approximately every four years after.