Essential Fish Habitat - US NOAA/NMFS

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The 1996 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act strengthened the ability of NMFS and the Councils to protect and conserve the habitat of marine, estuarine, and anadromous finfish, mollusks, and crustaceans. This habitat is termed ""essential fish habitat"" and is broadly defined to include ""those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity."" The Act requires the Councils to describe and identify the essential habitat for the managed species, minimize to the extent practicable adverse effects on EFH caused by fishing, and identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of EFH. The Act also establishes measures to protect EFH. NMFS must coordinate with other federal agencies to conserve and enhance EFH, and federal agencies must consult with NMFS on all actions or proposed actions authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect EFH. In turn NMFS must provide recommendations to federal and state agencies on such activities to conserve EFH. These recommendations may include measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, or otherwise offset adverse effects on EFH resulting from actions or proposed actions authorized, funded, or undertaken by that agency.

Related Topics: Fisheries and Aquaculture
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