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NOAA announces revisions to federal fishery management guidelines

October 13, 2016

Guidelines continue progress towards ending overfishing

NOAA Fisheries today announced final revisions to the guidelines that federal managers will use as they routinely update the nation's marine fisheries plans. The revised federal fishery management guidelines, known as the National Standard 1 guidelines of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, are intended to provide more flexibility and be more effective in ending and preventing overfishing.

“U.S. efforts to rebuild fish stocks under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Standards have resulted in real ecological and economic benefits, and made the nation an international leader in fisheries management,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “The revisions will continue our progress to prevent and end overfishing while providing an adaptive management system that better supports fishermen and fishing communities.”

These successes are based on the fundamental mandate within the Magnuson-Stevens Act that overfishing must be prevented. Changes to these guidelines will not change that. Rather, these updates are based on lessons learned since the reauthorization of the Magnuson Act in 2007 and provide consistent technical guidance across the eight regional fishery management councils.

The National Standard 1 revisions reflect advances in fisheries science and address a range of technical issues, including:

  • ​Providing regulatory stability for commercial and recreational fishing – so that businesses can increase their resilience to stock changes over time
  • Adding scientific methods that result in better informed rebuilding plans
  • Improving guidance on managing a fishery when data about a stock is limited
  • Advancing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management, which will help managers consider the broader marine ecosystem when managing fish populations

The National Standard guidelines assist the eight regional fishery management councils and NOAA Fisheries in developing fishery management plans that comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. National Standards 3, 7, and the General Section of the guidelines have also been streamlined as part of the revisions. This rule was developed over the course of the past 4 years, and was informed by over 100,000 public comments and significant engagement with the fishing industry and others concerned about the sustainability of our ocean resources.

Since 2000, NOAA has declared 40 U.S. fishery stocks rebuilt, and the number of overfished stocks and stocks experiencing overfishing are at all-time lows. The latest available data show that U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $214 billion in direct and indirect sales and supported more than 1.8 million jobs in 2014.

To learn more about the revisions to National Standards 1, 3, 7 and the General Section of the guidelines, click here.

Last updated by NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs on August 26, 2021

Magnuson-Stevens Act