Essential Fish Habitat (EFH)
Fish and other marine species depend on habitats comprised of the biological and physical properties required for survival and successful reproduction. In Alaska, we work to identify and protect essential fish habitat - habitat necessary for marine species to complete their lifecycles - in the waters of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans off Alaska, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other legislation.
Descriptions and Identification
Essential Fish Habitat in Alaska is identified in Fishery Management Plans developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and approved by the Secretary of Commerce. EFH descriptions are comprised of text and maps. (If there are differences between the descriptions of EFH in text and maps, the textual description is ultimately determinative of the limits of EFH.)
EFH text descriptions are the legal definition for EFH and serve as the "basis" for effect determinations. EFH text describes the physical and biological environment and the location of EFH for each species by life history stage, if known. Species profiles and habitat assessment reports within the Fishery Management Plans provide information about each species, including any known habitat associations, reproductive traits, predator prey relationships, and species-specific literature citations.
EFH maps complement EFH text descriptions and spatially depict the area of EFH for each life stage of fish managed under a Fishery Management Plan within the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, and the Arctic.
- Alaska EFH Mapper: ArcGIS Web Application with spatial data and maps of EFH for species managed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Alaska's federal fishery management plans. Identify Alaska EFH by species life history stage with several tools accessed through the icons at the bottom of the page.
- Habitat Conservation Area Maps
- National EFH Mapper: Data about areas where steps have been taken to minimize the impact that fisheries have on EFH by geographic area of interest.
- Pacific Salmon Freshwater EFH in Alaska: Alaska Department of Fish & Game Anadromous Fish Waters Catalog.
Federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries regarding any action authorized, funded, or undertaken, or proposed to be authorized, funded, or undertaken that may adversely affect EFH.
- Impacts to Essential Fish Habitat from Non-Fishing Activities in Alaska: EFH 5 Year Review: 2010 through 2015, 2017 (PDF, 233 pages)
- North Pacific Fishery Management Council EFH Consultation Process with NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region, 2012 (PDF, 2 pages)
- Evaluation of Fishing Activities That May Adversely Affect EFH (Appendix B, page 68) (PDF, 1326 pages)
- Assessment of the Effects of Fishing on Essential Fish Habitat in Alaska, 2017 (PDF, 22 pages)
- EFH Consultation Guidance (PDF, 80 pages)
- NOAA Restoration Center EFH Programmatic Consultation for Restoration Center Activities in Alaska, 2012 (PDF, 27 pages)
- Habitat Assessment Prioritization Report for Alaska Fish Stocks, 2017
- Habitat Assessment Improvement Plan, 2010
- Habitat Assessment Reports
- Arctic (To be completed during the next EFH 5 Year Review 2017-2022)
- Bering Sea and Aleutian Island Groundfish
- Gulf of Alaska Groundfish
- Bering Sea and Aleutian Island King and Tanner Crab
- Alaska Scallops
- Alaska Stocks of Pacific Salmon
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs) are smaller habitat areas within EFH that meet at least two of the four considerations:
- The importance of the ecological function provided by the habitat
- The extent to which the habitat is sensitive to human-induced environmental degradation
- Whether, and to what extent, development activities are, or will be, stressing the habitat type
- The rarity of the habitat type. (Rarity is a mandatory criterion of all Council HAPC proposals.)
- HAPC Process Document: Habitat Areas of Particular Concern with Essential Fish Habitat (PDF, 11 pages)
- North Pacific Fishery Management Council HAPC information
- HAPC site locations and area maps (PDF, 1 page)
- BSAI Groundfish FMP Amendment 104: Designates six areas of skate egg concentration as Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.
- HAPC and EFH in Alaska Fisheries - Federal Register Rules and Notices
- 50 CFR 679
- Closure Area Maps: Effective 7/28/2006