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Essential Fish Habitat Final 5-Year Review

Posted June 30, 2015

NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of the Final Atlantic HMS EFH 5-Year Review and intent to initiate an amendment to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to revise Atlantic HMS EFH descriptions and designations. The purpose of the Atlantic HMS EFH 5-Year Review was to gather relevant new information and determine whether revisions to existing EFH descriptions and designations are warranted, in compliance with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and implementing regulations.

NOAA Fisheries analyzed the information gathered through the EFH review process in this final 5-Year Review and determined that revision of EFH descriptions and designations are  warranted, and an amendment to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP will be undertaken. In reviewing literature since 2009, new data emerged for certain Atlantic HMS, which warrants revision to those species’ EFH descriptions and designations. For other Atlantic HMS, new data were either unavailable or it was determined that the new data did not warrant revisions to EFH descriptions and designations. However, in the upcoming amendment, new observer, survey, and tag/recapture data collected since 2009 will be used to revise EFH geographic boundaries for all species. The current methodology to designate EFH geographic boundaries for Atlantic HMS was first applied in Amendment 1 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, and Atlantic HMS EFH geographic boundaries have not since been updated using this methodology. It is unknown how data since 2009 that have been consistently collected over time (e.g., observer, survey, tag/recapture) will impact current EFH geographic boundaries. Therefore, all Atlantic HMS EFH geographic boundaries will be updated to see how these data will impact EFH geographic boundaries, even for species where there was limited or no new EFH data found in the literature review.

The upcoming EFH amendment will consider all ten EFH components, including individual species EFH descriptions, EFH conservation and enhancement recommendations for fishing and non-fishing effects on EFH, and identification of HAPCs, as well as scientific feedback and public comment. The Final Atlantic HMS EFH 5-Year Review is available online.

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