Essential Fish Habitat

In 1996 Congress added new habitat provisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the federal law that governs U.S. marine fisheries management. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, each fishery management plan must describe and identify Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the fishery, minimize to the extent practicable the adverse effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of EFH. Federal agencies must consult with NMFS regarding any action they authorize, fund, or undertake that may adversely affect EFH, and NMFS must provide conservation recommendations to federal and state agencies regarding any action that would adversely affect EFH.

As Congress noted in section 2(a)(9) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, "One of the greatest long-term threats to the viability of commercial and recreational fisheries is the continuing loss of marine, estuarine, and other aquatic habitats. Habitat considerations should receive increased attention for the conservation and management of fishery resources of the United States."


Habitat Assessments



Habitat and Ecological Processes Research Program