The 1996 amendments to
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens
Act) set forth a new mandate for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),
regional fishery management councils (FMC), and other federal agencies to
identify and protect important marine and anadromous fish habitats. The essential fish habitat (EFH)
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act support one of the Nation's overall marine resource management goals - maintaining sustainable
Essential to achieving this goal is the maintenance of suitable
marine fishery habitat quality and quantity. The FMCs, with assistance from NMFS,
has delineated "essential fish habitat" (EFH) for Federally managed species.
As new FMPs are developed, EFH for newly managed species will be defined as well.
Federal action agencies which fund, permit, or carry out activities that may
adversely affect EFH are required to consult with NMFS regarding the potential
impacts of their actions on EFH, and respond in writing to NMFS or FMC recommendations.
In addition, NMFS and the FMCs may comment on and make recommendations to any
state agency on their activities which may affect EFH. Measures recommended by
NMFS or an FMC to protect EFH are advisory, not proscriptive.
Within the area encompassed
by the NMFS Southeast Region, EFH has been identified for hundreds of marine
species covered by 20 FMPs, under the auspices of the Gulf of Mexico, South
Atlantic, or Caribbean FMC or the NMFS.
Generic FMP amendments delineating EFH for species managed by the three FMCs and
NMFS were completed and approved in early 1999. The generic FMPs of the Gulf of
Mexico and Caribbean FMCs were subsequently was updated and revised in 2005.
In addition, EFH has been identified for highly migratory species managed by the NMFS.
The NMFS' implementing regulations for EFH contain provisions for adopting existing environmental review procedures including procedures required by other statues (e.g., NEPA, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Clean Water Act) for consulting and commenting on federal actions that may adversely affect EFH. NMFS must make a finding that the existing process satisfies the EFH requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The following NMFS Findings are in effect in the Southeast Region:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Galveston District:
- New Orleans District:
- Mobile District:
- Jacksonville District:
- Savannah District:
- Charleston District:
- Wilmington District:
Department of Interior
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Highways Administration
Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Task Force
NOAA Restoration Center