“One of the greatest long-term threats to the viability of commercial and recreational fisheries is the continuing loss of marine, estuarine, and other aquatic habitats. Habitat considerations should receive increased attention for the conservation and management of fishery resources of the United States."
— United States Congress, as noted in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 1996.
Fish depend on healthy habitats to survive. Throughout their lives they use many types of habitat including seagrass, salt marsh, coral reefs, kelp forests, rocky intertidal areas, rivers, and streams. Various activities on land and in the water threaten to alter, damage, or destroy these habitats. NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council work together to address these threats by identifying Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) for each federally managed fish stock on the West Coast and developing conservation measures to protect and enhance these habitats. Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC), discrete subsets of EFH, have also been identified under the MSA for groundfish and salmon.
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. Programmatic consultations and general concurrence agreements simplify the consultation process for multiple project types with similar degree or method of disturbance. The resulting agreement increases the speed that projects move through the permitting process, decreases the consultation burden on consulting agencies, and promotes improved habitat conservation. Programmatic consultations also enable consistent response on similar project types.
For more information contact: West Coast EFH Coordinator, John Stadler, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 534-9328.
EFH Identification and Descriptions
EFH on the West Coast is identified in fishery management plans (FMPs) developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and approved by the Secretary of Commerce. EFH descriptions are comprised of text and maps. EFH maps complement text descriptions and spatially depict the area identified as EFH under an FMP off the West Coast. If there are differences between the descriptions of EFH in text and maps, the text description determines the EFH designation.
EFH Mapper: The EFH Mapper is an online tool that displays maps for EFH, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and EFH areas protected from fishing for each NOAA Fisheries region.
- Appendix D: Description and Identification of Essential Fish Habitat
- Amendment 12: Management of Krill as an Essential Component of the California Current Ecosystem
- Appendix F: Life History Accounts and Essential Fish Habitat Descriptions
- Salmon EFH Maps and GIS Data
- Amendment 18 to FMP - Revisions to Pacific Salmon EFH
- 5-year Review of Salmon EFH (2011) (PDF, 168 pages)
- Amendment 19: Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat
- Amendment 28: Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Area Modifications, Rockfish Conservation Area Modifications, and Magnuson Act Discretionary Closures
- EFH-related FMP Appendices
- Appendix B: Pacific Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat
- Appendix C: The Effects of Fishing on West Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat and Current Conservation Measures
- Appendix D: Nonfishing Effects on West Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat and Recommended Conservation Measures
- Compliance Guides (PDF, 14 pages)
- Groundfish EFH Maps and GIS Data
- Groundfish EFH Conservation Areas
Programmatic consultations and general concurrence between NOAA Fisheries & the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- EFH Regulations (50 CFR Part 600 Subpart J)
- Effects of Non-fishing Activities on Groundfish EFH and Recommended Conservation Measures (Appendix D to Pacific Groundfish FMP) (PDF, 78 pages)
- EFH Consultation Guide (2004)
- EFH Assessment Guidance (2004) (PDF, 34 pages)
- Comparison of EFH & Critical Habitat (PDF, 34 pages)