The Office of Policy develops and executes integrated strategies for NOAA Fisheries’ long-range planning, policy development, coordination, and implementation. The Office is responsible for effective NOAA and external relations on issues of policy development, communications, consistency, and tracks and helps resolve policy issues affecting NOAA Fisheries and its programs. In support of this responsibility, the Office of Policy provides secretariat support for the NOAA Fisheries Leadership Council and NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC).
The Office of Policy reports to the Directorate and serves the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries and the three Deputy Assistant Administrators (Regulatory Programs, Operations, and the Director of Scientific Programs). Determining policy is one of the most important functions of NOAA Fisheries leadership. Policy provides a focus and context for NOAA Fisheries' actions and a guide for the behavior of the organization and its members.
The Office of Policy helps create policy guidance through research, analysis, and review of programmatic, organizational, and budgetary implications of current or proposed actions, and develops and manages subsequent processes for policy implementation and integration. The Office identifies future national-level requirements for living marine resource and habitat stewardship and develops plans and recommends programs to respond to those requirements.
Office of Policy Links:
NOAA Fisheries Policy Directives System (PDS). The PDS establishes the framework for formulating NOAA Fisheries policy, and serves as the repository for NMFS policies and procedures. The PDS processes, requirements and holdings are maintained in a publicly-accessible website.
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC). The Office of Policy serves as the Executive Secretary for MAFAC, a Federal Advisory Committee to NOAA. MAFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. The members, representing a wide spectrum of fisheries, environmental, academic, state, tribal, consumer and other related national interests, draw on their expertise and other appropriate sources to evaluate and recommend priorities and needed changes in national programs.
NOAA Fisheries Leadership Council. The Office of Policy also provides secretariat support for the NOAA Fisheries Leadership Council, the senior policy making and advisory body for Agency policy, decision making, strategy, direction, and guidance serving the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries.
Electronic Monitoring and Electronic Reporting: Policy and Planning. NOAA Fisheries initiated a strategic effort to consider the challenges and opportunities associated with adopting electronic technologies to achieve a more cost-effective and sustainable approach and take advantage of the range of current and emerging technologies. As part of the effort, NOAA Fisheries released a discussion draft document with advice and best practices for NOAA Fisheries and Councils to evaluate and apply (where applicable) in developing regionally-appropriate fishery dependent data collection programs using electronic monitoring (EM) and electronic reporting (ER).
NEW Fishing Community Sustainability. To meet the need for accessible information about strategies fishermen and fishing communities can and are using to adapt to new management strategies, the Office of Policy has developed non-prescriptive guidance that lays out a general framework for instituting Fishing Community and Regional Fishing Associations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The new NOAA Fisheries Technical Memorandum titled The Design and Use of Fishing Community and Regional Fishery Association Entities in Limited Access Privilege Programs aims to increase the accessibility of these entities. The goal is to make it easier for Councils and stakeholders alike to assess their appropriateness during the design and development of new or modification of existing Limited Access Privilege Programs. The motivation for this guidance was inspired by the outcome of the 2011 Catch Shares and Commercial Fishing Communities workshop.
NEW Sustainable Seafood Certification. In the spring of 2012, NOAA Fisheries asked its Federal Advisory Committee to explore the appropriate role of NOAA in sustainable seafood certification. This role could include a certification mark or other acknowledgement that would certify sustainability and origin for use on or with domestic wild-caught or aquaculture fishery products. The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), a diverse group of 21 members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, solicited public input from producers, buyers, and non-governmental organizations; conducted personal interviews; invited external experts to present information on the subject; and engaged in extensive internal deliberations. MAFAC drew on its members’ expertise in commercial and recreational fisheries, aquaculture, environmental organizations, and other legal and technical backgrounds to deliver its recommendation to NOAA Fisheries in December 2013. NOAA is currently evaluating the report submitted by MAFAC, and welcomes the public to read the full report and comment on their findings and recommendations. Please link here for more information.