Regional Fishery Management Councils
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act created eight regional fishery management councils. These councils are responsible for the fisheries that require conservation and management in their region. Voting and non-voting council members represent the commercial and recreational fishing sectors in addition to environmental, academic, and government interests.
Under the MSA, councils are required to:
- Develop and amend fishery management plans
- Convene committees and advisory panels and conduct public meetings
- Develop research priorities in conjunction with a Scientific and Statistical Committee
- Select fishery management options
- Set annual catch limits based on best available science
- Develop and implement rebuilding plans
We support the councils by conducting the annual nomination and appointment process, training new members, and facilitating periodic meetings of the Council Coordination Committee.
We also work with the councils to designate essential fish habitat for federally managed species. Together we research and describe habitats essential for each life stage of many species, create maps, and designate Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.
Go to regional fishery management council websites:
Nominations and Appointments
Each year, we facilitate the annual process to appointment members to the councils. The ideal council appointee candidate is knowledgeable in commercial or recreational fishery conservation and management. They may have occupational experience, scientific expertise, or related training.
Council Coordination Committee
The Council Coordination Committee consists of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors from each management council. The committee meets twice a year to discuss issues relevant to all councils.
We offer an annual training for newly appointed council members. Training topics include provisions of the MSA and other applicable laws, stock assessment science and procedures, and council operations.
Each council holds meetings throughout the year to discuss issues important to the conservation and management of the region’s fisheries.
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee was established in 1971 under a federal charter by the Secretary of Commerce to provide advice on living marine resource matters under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Primarily, these matters fall under NOAA Fisheries.
Members represent a diverse set of perspectives from commercial, recreational, aquaculture, seafood and consumer, tribal, academic, environmental, and protected resources interest groups. Members draw on their expertise and other appropriate sources to advise on:
- Setting national living marine resource policies
- Developing and implementing Departmental initiatives and programs
- Evaluating and recommending needed changes during reauthorization processes for the Magnuson-Stevens, Endangered Species, and Marine Mammal Protection Acts
- Assessing other areas of interest to the Secretary and relevant to the mission and goals of NOAA Fisheries
Committee advice is derived from public deliberations and is typically conveyed in meeting summaries, written findings and recommendations, and formal reports transmitted to NOAA and the Department.
The committee functions solely as an advisory body, complying fully with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It is available to the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA on an ongoing basis as an expert source for consultation during the development of marine resource policy. The committee generally meets in person a minimum of twice a year and all meetings are open to the public in person or virtually. The Committee is managed by NOAA Fisheries' Office of Policy.
- Nomination Period Is Now Open for the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (October 16, 2023)
- Secretary of Commerce Appoints Three New Committee Members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (September 15, 2023)
For questions or information, please contact:
Heidi Lovett, Acting Director (DFO)
Katie Denman, Policy Analyst
American Fishery Advisory Committee
The American Fisheries Advisory Committee is a 22-member committee with three representatives from each of six regions. Members represent seafood sectors, including processors, recreational and commercial fishermen and seafood farmers, fisheries scientists, and regional fishery management council members. Additionally, there are four at-large members, including one representative each from the retail and marketing sector, commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, and NOAA Fisheries.
Who Can Serve on the Committee?
Members are selected so that the committee will represent as many seafood species as practicable. The committee is composed of 22 members.
There are three members from each region (18 total):
- One seafood harvester or processor
- One recreational or commercial fisherman or seafood farmer
- One representative of the fisheries science community or the relevant regional fishery management council
There are four at-large members:
- One individual with experience in food distribution, marketing, retail, or food service
- One individual with experience in the recreational fishing industry supply chain, such as fishermen, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors
- One individual with experience in the commercial fishing industry supply chain, such as fishermen, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors
- One employee of NOAA Fisheries with expertise in fisheries research
- Region 1: Alaska, Hawaii, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa
- Region 2: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
- Region 3: Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Region 4: California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho
- Region 5: New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia
- Region 6: Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania
The committee is responsible for making recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce for financial assistance awards under the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Competition. The committee will also make recommendations to the Secretary to assist in the development of the annual Notice of Funding Opportunities for submission to the grant competition. This may include:
- Identifying the needs of the fishing communities (program priorities)
- Establishing individual award funding limits
- Specifying the application review criteria and selection processes, and other sections of the Notice of Funding Opportunities as appropriate and allowable
NOAA Fisheries will coordinate the technical reviews of the grant applications prior to work done by the Committee.
Committee Meeting Frequency
The committee will meet no more than twice per year in person with potentially one or two virtual meetings as needed.
Committee Member Terms
Committee member terms are staggered. One third of all members will serve an initial term of 2 years, one third an initial term of 3 years, and one third an initial term of 4 years. This will be followed by 3-year terms for each member thereafter. The established nomination and selection processes will be applied for all membership cycles going forward with respective dates to be determined.
Application Schedule and Details
The next call for membership will be in summer 2024. The call for nominations will be printed in the Federal Register with the member region and positions to be filled clearly identified.
Each applicant must submit the following in PDF format:
- A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant’s interest in serving on the Committee and their qualifications
- A resume/CV that details the applicant’s contact information (address, telephone number, email address) and specific qualifications and expertise as referenced in the Act
The selection process will be based on thorough vetting of all nominees, who will be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce through delegated authority to the NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator.
Saltonstall-Kennedy funds are used to provide grants or cooperative agreements for fisheries research and development projects addressing aspects of U.S. fisheries. This includes harvesting, processing, marketing, and associated business infrastructures. The grants and cooperative agreements are made on a competitive basis to execute projects that optimize the economic benefits of building and maintaining sustainable fisheries and practices, dealing with the impacts of conservation and management measures, and increasing other opportunities to support working waterfronts.
Learn about our partnerships with state and federal government agencies.
NOAA Fisheries partners with government agencies as part of our mission to support productive sustainable fisheries and safe sources of seafood. In conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our National Seafood Inspection Laboratory provides support to seafood dealers and ensures seafood is caught and imported legally. We also partner with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that seafood is safe to eat.
We’re also working with federal agencies to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud from entering the U.S. marketplace. Partner agencies include:
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Defense
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Federal Trade Commission
- United States Agency for International Development
We work with three Interstate Fisheries Commissions to manage shared coastal fishery resources and collect data.
- Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
We also work closely with state and territory partners to collect data, conserve fish habitat, assess the status of fish stocks, and implement effective management programs to ensure the sustainability of U.S. fisheries.
At both the national and regional level, we work with federal partners to meet our shared mandates under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. In particular, we co-manage several species under the ESA with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g., marine turtles, Gulf sturgeon, Atlantic salmon) and coordinate closely to ensure common approaches to implementing the ESA.
Some of the agencies that we regularly consult with under the ESA include:
- Army Corps of Engineers
- Department of Defense
- Department of the Interior
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- National Science Foundation
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- U.S. Geological Survey
States and territories are also critical partners in protecting and recovering ESA-listed species. They often possess scientific data and expertise within their borders and have close working relationships with local governments and landowners that can benefit ESA management decisions. Together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we recognized this role with a long-standing policy commitment by state agencies for engagement and collaboration on many aspects of ESA implementation.
Science & Technology
NOAA Fisheries collaborates with a wide range of federal partners to provide the best available science in support of marine resource management, including:
- Department of Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey): To support science and conservation of protected species like sea turtles and research on fish habitats; for example, we provide scientific advice and direction for the National Fish Habitat Partnership
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: We provide science to better understand the impacts of energy exploration and offshore energy development on marine species and their habitats as well as the impacts of underwater noise on marine mammals and other species
- Army Corps of Engineers: We work together to support habitat restoration science and conservation
- Department of State: We work together to promote the application of strong fisheries science internationally
- Department of Defense (U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard): We support research on impacts of underwater noise on marine life for the Navy and partner with the Coast Guard on national observer program efforts
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Homeland Security (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
We work with several cooperative state-federal fisheries data collection and statistics programs, also known as the Fisheries Information Networks, to meet the needs of fishery managers, scientists and fishermen and produce national level summary information on U.S. fisheries. The Fisheries Information Networks are supported by the Fisheries Commissions (Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific) and include:
- Alaska Fisheries Information Network
- Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program
- Gulf Fisheries Information Network
- Pacific Fisheries Information Network
- Pacific Recreational Fisheries Information Network
- Western Pacific Fisheries Information Network
We work with federal agencies to implement habitat restoration projects where our priorities align. Often, our focus on restoring habitat to recover fish populations can complement other agencies’ efforts to improve water quality or reduce flooding. These partnerships allow us to be more efficient and cost-effective. Our partners include all federal agencies who fund, regulate, and implement resource conservation.
We also work with state natural resource agencies to help us prioritize habitat conservation needs for the state and implement projects. In addition, we partner with state agencies to implement restoration plans addressing natural resources that were injured by oil and chemical spills. Working together allows us to maximize funding and achieve greater outcomes than working alone. We work with all coastal states and the agencies that fund and implement resource conservation. For example, we are engaged in landscape-scale conservation partnerships in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, Great Lakes, and the San Francisco Bay/Delta.
When it comes to law enforcement, NOAA Fisheries works closely with federal agencies to maximize enforcement efforts and leverage resources. With the increase in the U.S. homeland security and cross-agency collaboration, our expertise applies to various task forces and security activities, including border operations, checkpoints, dock patrols, and inter-agency meetings.
A few of our key federal partners include:
- U.S. Coast Guard
- Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Department of Justice and United States Attorneys Office
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
We also partner with state, territorial, and commonwealth marine conservation law enforcement agencies to help protect and conserve marine resources. Through these partnerships, enabled by the Cooperative Enforcement Program, we supplement enforcement efforts with thousands of specially trained and authorized conservation law enforcement officers.
Since the inception of the Cooperative Enforcement Program, these partner agencies have provided critical law enforcement activity on our behalf. In return, we have provided substantial funding, training, and support to partners to ensure the continued enforcement of federal and state marine conservation laws.
To facilitate the growth of marine aquaculture in the United States, we work with federal, state, and tribal partners on initiatives stemming from the 2011 aquaculture policies, the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, and mandates under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Aquaculture Act.
We chair the Aquaculture Regulatory Task Force under the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture through which federal agencies collaborate with the National Ocean Council to streamline and better coordinate federal permitting for aquaculture. The goal is to produce a more coordinated and consistent federal regulatory process that will provide protection for the ocean environment and increase efficiency, transparency, and predictability in making permit decisions.
Tools developed by our aquaculture program are shared with state and local officials to help coastal managers understand aquaculture. The Coastal Aquaculture Planning Portal brings together data from throughout NOAA—NOAA Ocean Service, NOAA Fisheries, and NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research—to provide coastal managers with the best available aquaculture science and tools.
We also regularly work with states as part of the National Shellfish Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase populations of shellfish in our nation’s coastal waters—including oysters, clams, abalone, and mussels—through both sustainable commercial production and restoration activities.
The relationship between the United States government and federally-recognized Indian tribes is one of government to government. Central to this unique relationship is the trust responsibility of the U.S. government, which is an obligation on the part of the United States to carry out the mandates of federal law while considering the rights and interests of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.
Understanding each tribe's unique political, historical, and cultural characteristics allows us to better understand tribal government priorities, concerns, and needs, which helps us be better stewards of our environment. We are committed to developing policies and procedures that improve our relations with federally-recognized Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis. NOAA's Tribal Relations Team works to ensure an accountable process for meaningful and timely consultations on policies that might have tribal implications. We also have a tribal consultations handbook (PDF, 34 pages) with guidelines for how we consult with federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations. Review these best practices for engaging with and incorporating traditional ecological knowledge in decision-making.
We collaborate closely with tribal governments in a number of regions as well as nationally. For example, our Species Recovery Grants to Tribes support tribally-led recovery efforts for eligible species under our jurisdiction, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act and others. Grants support a range of recovery efforts, including management, research, and outreach activities.
Alaska Natives have a long history of self-regulation, based on the need to ensure a sustainable take of marine mammals for food and handicrafts. In Alaska, we consult with tribes and Native corporations about federal actions that might affect tribal governments and their members. Executive Order 13175 sets the framework for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Alaska Native representatives in the development of policies, legislation, regulations, and programs.
The best available scientific information as well as traditional and contemporary Alaska Native knowledge and wisdom are used for decisions regarding Alaska marine mammal co-management to the extent allowed by law. Our co-management agreements with Alaska Native organizations encourage full and equal participation by Alaska Natives in decisions affecting the subsistence management of marine mammals, as a tool for conserving marine mammal populations in Alaska. Agreements encourage the exchange of information regarding the conservation, management, and use of marine mammals in U.S. waters in and around Alaska.
In the Greater Atlantic Region, we coordinate and strive to build positive, productive relationships with tribes in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. With knowledge of tribal government processes and cultural practices, we can better understand tribal positions and needs and, together, be better stewards of our environment.
Partnerships with the tribes include working on issues related to protected species such as Atlantic salmon, marine mammals, and sea turtles; ecosystem restoration; aquaculture; and ocean acidification. Tribes in this region have awarded species recovery grants to support management, outreach, research, and monitoring projects that directly benefit ESA-listed species, recently de-listed species, species proposed for listing, and candidate species.
Although the Pacific Islands Region does not have any federally recognized tribes, we recognize the value of working with native Hawaiian groups and others on resource management issues. We partner with many indigenous Pacific Islander groups throughout the region who have interest in NOAA's activities and want to assist in executing our mission in a culturally responsible manner.
For instance, we engage with native Hawaiian cultural practitioners in marine mammal stranding responses whenever possible. We invite cultural practitioners to participate in helping us become more culturally sensitive about being respectful to an individual animal and to the people of the community where these strandings occur. It is our goal to continue to build respectful relationships and responses that expand this effort, while remaining in compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
We recognize the rights of federally-recognized Indian tribes to self-government and sovereign power over their members and territories. In the West Coast region, we protect those rights by partnering with Pacific Northwest Indian tribes to address natural and cultural resource issues.
Partnerships with the tribes include the formation of salmon recovery teams and development of implementation plans, task forces such as the Columbia Basin Partnership, education opportunities such as the Discovery Internship Program with the Northwest Indian College, and funding opportunities through various grants such as the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, as well as providing resource tools and guides for tribal interaction and government-to-government consultation.
We work with tribal governments across the country to conserve habitat on tribal lands while respecting their history and culture. Working together, we can help leverage additional funding and technical assistance to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and with the support of the tribal government.
Many non-government organizations that focus on ocean issues have goals that significantly overlap with NOAA mandates. These organizations and their members are critical public stakeholders. Many of these organizations have well-developed and influential social networks—domestically and internationally—that can amplify mutually beneficial messages, initiatives, and campaigns. These deep-seated communication and outreach mechanisms, which equip organizations with the capability to gain public interest and support, make it imperative to have a strong working partnerships. Additionally, our partners often provide a forum for collaborative meetings among various stakeholders (industry, public, academia, governments). Non-government organizations include universities, stranding networks, and aquariums, among others.
We partner with a variety of non-government organizations to conduct research that supports sustainable fisheries management. For example, through the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program we support the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch. We provide funding and often work directly with universities, the fishing industry, and individual fishermen.
Our protected species partners provide a range of vital resources, expertise, data, and even funding for activities to make important progress on recovery and conservation. We work alongside:
Academic Institutions: We look to academic institutions for their expertise in species biology, recovery, and conservation and to provide membership on technical working groups and advisory bodies as we implement the ESA and MMPA.
Non-Government Organizations: We work with non-government organizations to identify key resources and innovative approaches to recover and conserve protected species, including relying upon them for marine mammal and sea turtle stranding and entanglement response, among other things.
Private Sector: We partner with private companies to implement recovery actions, including commercial and recreational fisheries, the aquaculture industry, the whale watching industry, and oil and gas companies.
Science & Technology
To support, produce, and ensure the best available science for managing living marine resources, we partner with a range of non-government organizations, including:
Center for Independent Experts: We support science quality assurance by helping fund the Center of Independent Experts. The Center reviews the agency’s science used for policy decisions. Reviews satisfy mandated peer review standards.
Partners in support of cooperative research: We fund cooperative research to foster coordination, cooperation, communication, and mutual respect among scientists, managers, and stakeholders as well as enhance the data upon which fishery management decisions are made.
Academic institutions: We support research at a number of academic institutions around the country to help provide the best available science in support of living marine resource management. We also help support faculty and students at academic institutions around the country to help train the next generation of NOAA Fisheries scientists.
Non-government organizations: Examples include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, and Nature Conservancy.
Professional societies: We work with professional societies on a number of projects to improve science and coordination. Examples include the American Fisheries Society, Ecological Society of America, Association for Professional Observers, and Alaska Marine Safety Education Association.
We work with restoration partners across the country---from local community groups to national environmental groups---on the common goal to conserve habitat. Our partners help us to develop protection and restoration priorities, implement projects, and leverage significant additional funding and in-kind support. This results in far greater outcomes than we can achieve with NOAA funding alone. Some of our partners who work on a national and regional scale include: The Nature Conservancy, Restore America’s Estuaries, Ducks Unlimited, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the National Fish Habitat Partnerships. Local partners include “friends of” groups, estuaries partnerships, and coastal advocacy organizations.
We partner with numerous non-government organizations, such as World Wildlife Fund and Oceana, on law enforcement issues. We often participate in collaborative meetings with various stakeholders to discuss cooperative activities and develop broad-based collaborative strategies, which address issues that impact sustainable fisheries and protected species and the law abiding public that depends on these living marine resources.
We collaborate with various organizations on aquaculture outreach, disseminating scientific research and general aquaculture information to help coastal communities better understand the importance of aquaculture to our economy.