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Fishery Management Councils

We partner with eight regional fishery management councils, which consist of representatives from industry, non-governmental organizations, fishermen, and NOAA Fisheries personnel. These partnerships allow for regional, participatory governance by knowledgeable people with a stake in fishery management.

The fishery management councils develop management plans for marine fisheries in waters seaward of state waters in their individual regions. The councils develop these plans and specific management measures (such as fishing seasons, quotas, and closed areas) based on sound scientific advice and initiate, evaluate, and ultimately adopt the plans in a fully transparent and public process.

Each fishery management council has a team of enforcement personnel—including NOAA enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, and state enforcement—to make sure commercial and recreational regulations are enforceable.

List of Councils

Caribbean Fishery Management Council

The Caribbean Fishery Management Council is part of the Southeast Division and includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PR) and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). It is unique in being the only council that does not include one of the fifty states of the Union and in sharing fish stocks with many Caribbean nations. It has developed fishery management plans for reef fish, queen conch, and spiny lobster.

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is part of the Southeast Division and consists of state representatives from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The Council establishes conservation measures for reef fish, shrimp, spiny lobster, stone crab, coastal migratory pelagic, corals, essential fish habitat, and red drum fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ. The EEZ extends from 3 to 200 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and 9 to 200 miles off Texas and the west coast of Florida.

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is part of the Northeast and Southeast Divisions and is responsible for management of fisheries in federal waters, which occur predominantly off the Mid-Atlantic coast. States with voting representation on the Council include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina (North Carolina is represented on both the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Councils).

New England Fishery Management Council

The New England Fishery Management Council is part of the Northeast Division and manages fisheries in federal waters off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

North Pacific Fishery Management Council

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is part of the Alaska and Northwest Division and is composed of 15 members: 11 voting and four non-voting. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce appoints seven of the voting members upon the recommendation of the governors of Alaska and Washington.

Pacific Fishery Management Council

The Pacific Fishery Management Council includes the Northwest and Southwest Divisions and has developed fishery management plans for salmon, groundfish, and coastal pelagic species in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and recommends Pacific halibut harvest regulations to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is within the Southeast Divsion and is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and east Florida to Key West.

Western Pacific Fishery Management Council

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council is part of the Pacific Islands Division and is the policy-making organization for the management of fisheries in the EEZ around American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other U.S. possessions in the Pacific, an area of nearly 1.5 million square miles.