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2016 Revisions to National Standard 1 Guidelines

In 2016, finalized revisions to the guidelines for National Standards 1, 3, and 7 (NS1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the General section of those guidelines.

This final rule is primarily focused on revising the National Standard 1 guidelines, which provides guidance on ending and preventing overfishing as well as achieving optimum yield from federal fisheries. The General Section of the National Standard guidelines as well as the National Standard 3 and 7 guidelines were also revised for streamlining purposes.

The purpose of the 2016 revisions to the NS1 guidelines was to improve and streamline the National Standard guidelines to enhance their utility for managers and the public and provide flexibility in meeting current Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates. The 2016 revisions to the NS1 guidelines do not establish new requirements or require councils to revise their current fishery management plans.

The revisions address a range of issues including:

  • Providing stability to fisheries.

  • Adding flexibility to rebuilding plans.

  • Updating optimum yield and maximum sustainable yield concepts.

  • Improving guidance on managing data-limited stocks.

  • Consolidating guidance on identifying stocks to be included in federal fishery management plans.

  • Provisions to further advance ecosystem-based fisheries management.

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Final Rule Materials

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NS1 Infographics

1. Phasing-in changes to catch levels

The 2016 NS1 guidelines include a provision that allows changes to catch limits to be gradually phased in over a period of time not to exceed 3 years, as long as overfishing is prevented. Historically, changes in catch limits were made over the course of one year. Phasing-changes to catch levels will help the fishing industry plan for the future and help create more stable fisheries over the short-term. For more information on phasing-in changes to catch levels, please see our Frequent Questions page.


2. Carrying-over unused quota into the next year

If a fishery does not catch all of its annual catch limit during one fishing season, the NS1 guidelines allow Councils to carry-over a portion of the catch underage into the next year. Carrying-over unused catch is designed to relieve pressure on fishermen to catch their entire catch limit, which can result in fishing in unsafe situations or harvesting fish during poor market conditions. There are two approaches to carrying-over a portion of a catch underage – as shown below. For more information on annual catch limits and carry-over provisions, please see our Frequent Questions page.

National Standard 1 Carry-over approach 1

3. Determining which stocks require conservation and management

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, federal management is required when a fishery is in need of conservation and management. The new National Standard guidelines clarify and streamline guidance on determining whether a stock requires conservation and management.

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National Standard 1 Webinar

Listen to a webinar on the 2016 NS1 Guidelines given by NOAA Fisheries staff on October 14, 2016.

  • Webinar recording 



  • Transcript (PDF, 24 pages)

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Other Materials

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