The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), which was reauthorized and amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act (1996), requires the eight regional fishery management councils to describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH) in their respective regions, to specify actions to conserve and enhance that EFH, and to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on EFH. Congress defined EFH as "those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity." The MSFCMA requires the NOAA Fisheries Service to assist the regional fishery management councils in the implementation of EFH in their respective fishery management plans. For complete information and background on EFH, see the NOAA Fisheries Service Office of Habitat Conservation's web site.
The NOAA Fisheries Service has taken a broad view of habitat as the area used by fish throughout their life cycle. Fish use habitat for spawning, feeding, nursery, migration, and shelter, but most habitats provide only a subset of these functions. Fish may change habitats with changes in life history stage, seasonal and geographic distributions, abundance, and interactions with other species. The type of habitat, as well as its attributes and functions, are important for sustaining the production of managed species.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center compiled the available information on the distribution, abundance, and habitat requirements for each of the species managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. That information is presented in this series of EFH species reports (plus one consolidated methods report; below). The EFH species reports comprise a survey of the important literature as well as original analyses of fishery-independent data sets from the NOAA Fisheries Service and several coastal states. The species reports are also the source for the current EFH designations by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, and have understandably begun to be referred to as the "EFH source documents."
NOAA Fisheries provided guidance to the regional fishery management councils for identifying and describing EFH of their managed species. Consistent with this guidance, the species reports present information on current and historic stock sizes, geographic range, and the period and location of major life history stages. The habitats of managed species are described by the physical, chemical, and biological components of the ecosystem where the species occur. Information on the habitat requirements is provided for each life history stage, and it includes, where available, habitat and environmental variables that control or limit distribution, abundance, growth, reproduction, mortality, and productivity.
Identifying and describing EFH are the first steps in the process of protecting, conserving, and enhancing essential habitats of the managed species. Ultimately, the NOAA Fisheries Service, the regional fishery management councils, fishing participants, Federal and state agencies, and other organizations will have to cooperate to achieve the habitat goals established by the MSFCMA.
The initial series of EFH species source documents were published in 1999 in the NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE series.
Updating and review of the EFH components of the councils’ Fishery Management Plans is required at least every five years by the NOAA Fisheries Service Guidelines for meeting the Sustainable Fisheries Act/EFH Final Rule. Second editions of several of these species source documents were written to provide the updated information needed to meet these requirements. The second editions provide new information on life history, geographic distribution, and habitat requirements via recent literature, research, and fishery surveys, and incorporate updated and revised maps and graphs.
New England Fishery Management Council
- NMFS-NE-123 American Plaice, Hippoglossoides platessoides
- NMFS-NE-124 Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua
- NMFS-NE-125 Atlantic Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus
- NMFS-NE-126 Atlantic Herring, Clupea harengus
- NMFS-NE-127 Goosefish, Lophius americanus
- NMFS-NE-128 Haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus
- NMFS-NE-129 Ocean Pout, Macrozoarces americanus
- NMFS-NE-130 Offshore Hake, Merluccius albidus
- NMFS-NE-131 Pollock, Pollachius virens
- NMFS-NE-132 Redfish, Sebastes spp.
- NMFS-NE-133 Red Hake, Urophycis chuss
- NMFS-NE-134 Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus
- NMFS-NE-135 Silver Hake, Merluccius bilinearis
- NMFS-NE-136 White Hake, Urophycis tenuis
- NMFS-NE-137 Windowpane, Scophthalmus aquosus
- NMFS-NE-138 Winter Flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus
- NMFS-NE-139 Witch Flounder, Glyptocephalus cynoglossus
- NMFS-NE-140 Yellowtail Flounder, Limanda ferruginea
- NMFS-NE-163 Red Deepsea Crab, Chaceon quinquedens
- NMFS-NE-173 Barndoor Skate, Dipturus laevis
- NMFS-NE-174 Clearnose Skate, Raja eglanteria
- NMFS-NE-175 Little Skate, Leucoraja erinacea
- NMFS-NE-176 Rosette Skate, Leucoraja garmani virginica
- NMFS-NE-177 Smooth Skate, Malacoraja senta
- NMFS-NE-178 Thorny Skate, Amblyraja radiata
- NMFS-NE-179 Winter Skate, Leucoraja ocellata
- NMFS-NE-186 Silver Hake, Merluccius bilinearis (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-187 American Plaice, Hippoglossoides platessoides (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-189 Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-190 Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-192 Atlantic Herring, Clupea harengus (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-196 Haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus (2nd edition)
Middle Atlantic Fishery Management Council
- NMFS-NE-141 Atlantic Mackerel, Scomber scombrus
- NMFS-NE-142 Atlantic Surfclam, Spisula solidissima
- NMFS-NE-143 Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata
- NMFS-NE-144 Bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix
- NMFS-NE-145 Butterfish, Peprilus triacanthus
- NMFS-NE-146 Longfin Inshore Squid, Loligo pealeii
- NMFS-NE-147 Northern Shortfin Squid, Illex illecebrosus
- NMFS-NE-148 Ocean Quahog, Arctica islandica
- NMFS-NE-149 Scup, Stenotomus chrysops
- NMFS-NE-150 Spiny Dogfish, Squalus acanthias
- NMFS-NE-151 Summer Flounder, Paralichthys dentatus
- NMFS-NE-152 Tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps
- NMFS-NE-191 Northern Shortfin Squid, Illex illecebrosus (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-193 Longfin Inshore Squid, Loligo pealeii (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-198 Bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix
- NMFS-NE-200 Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata (2nd edition)
- NMFS-NE-203 Spiny Dogfish, Squalus acanthias