Fishery Management Councils
Whether you live in Maine, American Samoa, Kansas or Key West, you can help protect the world’s oceans. Each coastal state is placed into one of eight Fishery Management Councils (FMCs) that were formed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976.
These councils govern and develop plans to manage the marine environment within their geographical range. Regional councils write the rules for fishing in federal waters of the United States for approval by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Every council holds public hearings and releases plans for public comment before approval and implementation by the federal agencies.
If you live in a coastal area, you can participate in your local Fishery Management Council activities and voice your opinions to local decision makers. And if you do not live on the coast, you can still help protect your oceans by commenting on federal actions that impact the oceans.
Sign up to be a Wavemaker and Oceana will do the work for you; we’ll let you know when important issues that need input are out for comment.
Scroll down and find your local page. If you don’t see your state represented in a council, choose an area that you might visit or are interested in learning more about.
The Caribbean region is home to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite their seemingly small size, they are the home to many important ocean species and ecosystems. Coral reefs act as homes to many juvenile fish and face many dangers, ranging from coral bleaching from the effects of climate change to coral harvesting.
The Caribbean Fishery Management Council is responsible for the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are ten members in this Fishery Management Council, seven with voting power and the remaining three act as supporting members who come from different local and federal government branches. Currently, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council has four Fishery Management Plans for the spiny lobster, shallow water reef fish, coral and the queen conch.
The Gulf Coast region is home to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, responsible for management and conservation of habitat and fish stocks of the 200 mile zone off of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Current Fishery Management Plans of the Gulf of Mexico Council are for reef fish, shrimp, spiny lobster, stone crab, corals, migratory pelagics and red drum.
Another initiative of the Council is the designation of Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC). So far, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has designated the Florida Middle Grounds, East Flower Garden Bank, McGrail Bank, Stetson Bank, the West Flower Garden Bank and a small section of Pulley Ridge, among others. Many of these areas provide important spawning and nursery sites for diverse fish and invertebrate species, as well as habitat for fragile and significant deep sea coral.
Find the next Gulf of Mexico Council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
The Mid-Atlantic region includes the coastal states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Work is done in this region to manage important fisheries that interact with the New England region and to reduce the impacts of fishing on endangered species like sea turtles.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manages fishery resources and the ocean ecosystem within the federal 200-mile limit off the coasts of these states. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manages seven Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) in this region including the summer flounder, Atlantic squid, mackerel and co-management of the Atlantic monkfish.
Find the next Mid-Atlantic Council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
The New England region is home to many valuable marine species, such as scallops, herring, lobster, skates, groundfish and Atlantic salmon. With large coastal areas and many economically important fisheries based in this region, the ocean plays a large part in the lives of New Englanders. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) works with many issues in this region, including stranded marine mammals, protecting essential fish habitat and permitting fishing boats.
The New England Fishery Management Council manages the fisheries off the coastal states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. This regional council manages eight Fishery Management Plans for the above species and more.
Oceana works in the New England region to improve the management of the region’s fisheries through conserving marine habitat and reducing wasteful bycatch, two elements necessary to sustaining local fisheries.
Find the next New England Council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
The pacific islands are home to the Hawaiian Monk Seal, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the U.S. The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (FMC) manages the fisheries off the coasts of American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Islands of Mariana, and U.S. Island possessions.
In recent years, the Western Pacific Council has focused on managing Hawaiian bottomfish fisheries and pelagic, coral and crustacean fisheries in the region. Their work includes a Fishery Management Plan for pelagic longline fisheries and tuna conservation through working on quotas and possibly implementing total allowable catches (TACs) and limited entry programs for longline fisheries. The council is currently made up of 16 members – four state officials, four federal officials and eight who are nominated from the communities of the member states.
Find the next Western Pacific Council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
If you live in the southeast region, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (FMC) is your local fishery management body. This FMC is responsible for managing fish stocks off of Georgia, east Florida to Key West, North Carolina and South Carolina. This NMFS council deals with endangered species, such as elkhorn coral and the Caribbean monk seal, while also maintaining estuaries and working with issues of aquaculture.
Current fisheries managed in the south Atlantic by the Management Council include coastal migratory pelagic, coral and live bottom habitat, dolphin and wahoo, golden crab, red drum, shrimp, snapper grouper, spiny lobster and sargassum. More information on the council’s Fishery Management Plans can be found here.
In the Southeast U.S., there are deep sea corals which provide important resources for threatened or overfished species. Oceana is currently advocating for habitat protection in the south Atlantic for deep sea corals and snapper-grouper.
We are supporting the Council’s Fishery Ecosystem Plan as the first of its kind in the country. In 2004, the Council responded to the convincing data provided by scientists and identified areas of coral that would be closed to bottom trawling and any other activity that disturbs the seafloor. However, the Council has yet to formalize these designations and the threat to corals remains.
Find the next South Atlantic council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
There are two fishery management councils that contribute to fishery management for our western states. The Pacific Fishery Management Council manages the fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manages fisheries in Alaska.
Working to reduce bottom trawling is an important part of Oceana’s interaction with the Pacific region, due to the incredibly rich and productive California current ecosystem and the deep sea corals and sponges found throughout the Pacific. The waters off of Alaska are under tremendous stress from the impacts of global climate change and an increasing world population, and Oceana’s team is hard at work to provide genuine protection for this already stressed part of the world.
Recently, the Pacific Fishery Management Council completed a court-ordered Essential Fish Habitat Environmental Impact Statement to describe and identify essential habitat for fish and minimize the detrimental effects of fishing on that habitat.
Oceana’s Pacific team focuses on protecting important ecological areas and the resilience of ecosystems. Oceana works to protect important ecological areas and ecosystems by advocating local and state governments, NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect threatened marine species and crucial habitats, and move forward with ecosystem-based management approaches.
The North Pacific council manages fisheries off the coast of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, the Bering Sea and the U.S. Arctic. Oceana works in the North Pacific Region to protect coral gardens and other seafloor habitats from bottom trawling in the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and elsewhere in Alaska. Oceana is also pushing for an ecosystem-based management approach to management for the resource-rich Aleutian Islands, and establish proactive, precautionary protection for Arctic Ocean ecosystems, which are already feeling tremendous stress due to climate change.
Oceana works to protect important ecological areas and ecosystems in Alaska by advocating the state of Alaska, NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which advises the federal government on fisheries policy decisions for the North Pacific, to protect threatened marine species and crucial habitats, and move forward with ecosystem-based management approaches.
Find the next Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting – all meetings are open to the public.
Find the next North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting – also open to the public.