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Guidance for Conducting Economic and Social Analyses of Regulatory Actions

The Office of Sustainable Fisheries provides guidance to the regional fishery management councils and NOAA Fisheries regional and program offices for conducting social and economic analyses of regulatory actions. Guidance on the economic analyses of fisheries regulatory actions focuses on understanding and meeting the requirements of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). Explore the links below to learn more about this guidance. These analyses must also abide by policies and procedures meant to protect the confidentiality of data submitted to and collected by NOAA Fisheries (see NOAA Administrative Order on Protection of Confidential Data).

Clearance of Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses (RFAAs) and Regulatory Impact Reviews (RIRs)

General Guidance for Regulatory Actions

610 Reviews

Social Impact Assessment

Economic Analysis and Assessment

Economic analyses are also required, to varying degrees, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and other applicable laws (see sidebar). Regulatory analyses for NOAA Fisheries management actions should strive to simultaneously meet the requirements of E.O. 12866, the RFA, and other laws, including the MSA, NEPA, MMPA, and ESA. 

For all management actions, the MSA requires a fishery impact statement (FIS), which assesses, specifies, and describes the likely effects of conservation and management measures on participants in the fishery or fisheries being managed, fishing communities, and participants in neighboring fisheries. The FIS should include an assessment and description of the economic and social impacts of the proposed action on the various components of the fishery being managed, over the entire range of the regulated species, on participants in the fishery and in other fisheries, and on fishing communities.

Further, eight of the MSA's ten National Standards have implications for social and economic analyses of regulatory actions implemented under the authority of the MSA. NOAA Fisheries has provided guidance on what each of the National Standards means in the National Standard Guidelines. Analyses addressing the economic and social aspects of these standards may be contained in the RIR, SIA, and/or FIS.

National Standard 1 – Conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry. Optimum yield is defined in terms of the amount of fish which will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation.

National Standard 2 – Conservation and management measures shall be based upon the best scientific information available.

National Standard 4 – Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of different states. If it becomes necessary to allocate or assign fishing privileges among various U.S. fishermen, such allocation shall be: (1) fair and equitable to all such fishermen, (2) reasonably calculated to promote conservation, and (3) carried out in such manner that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privileges.

National Standard 5 – Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, consider efficiency in the utilization of fishery resources; except that no such measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose.

National Standard 7 – Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, minimize costs and avoid unnecessary duplication.

National Standard 8 – Conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of the MSA (including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to: (1) provide for the sustained participation of such communities; and (2) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.

National Standard 9 – Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable: (1) minimize bycatch; and (2) to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch. NOAA Fisheries has defined the term “to the extent practicable” to include a consideration of the effects of reducing bycatch and bycatch mortality on the overall benefit to the Nation.

National Standard 10 – Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, promote the safety of human life at sea.