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National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Section 304(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act called on the Secretary of Commerce to revise and update agency procedures for compliance with NEPA in context of fishery management actions developed pursuant to the Magnuson Act.

On behalf of the Secretary, in 2008 NOAA Fisheries engaged in a lengthy and transparent public process including coordination with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the regional fishery management councils to develop the scope of issues and concerns to be addressed by the procedures. NOAA Fisheries issued a proposed rule in 2008 to implement the NEPA mandate, however it was very controversial and NOAA Fisheries decided not to finalize it (see below for additional information on the rulemaking).

NOAA Fisheries subsequently determined that it would be more appropriate to revise and update internal guidance rather than to create new regulatory requirements. On February 19, 2013, NOAA Fisheries issued an internal policy titled “National Environmental Policy Act Compliance for Council-Initiated Fishery Management Actions under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.” The policy clarifies roles and responsibilities of NOAA Fisheries and the Councils, explains timing and procedural linkages, provides guidance on documentation needs, and fosters partnerships and cooperation between NOAA Fisheries and FMCs on NEPA compliance. Issuance of this policy satisfied the requirements of section 304(i) of the MSA.

After issuing the 2013 Policy Directive, NOAA Fisheries consulted with the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) at its public meeting in May 2013, had follow-up dialog with a subcommittee the CCC established to represent the CCC on these matters, and consulted with CEQ.

Based on those consultations, NOAA Fisheries used the 2013 policy as a basis for a line-office supplement to NOAA NEPA Administrative Order 216-6, and published the draft revised and updated NEPA procedures for MSA actions on June 30, 2013, to solicit public comment.

NOAA has finalized revisions to the NOAA policy and procedures for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the context of Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) fishery management actions.

Below are links to the Federal Register notice of availability of the final revised and updated MSA NEPA procedures with a response to public comments, and a link to the Final Procedures.

For additional information please contact Steve Leathery, NOAA Fisheries National NEPA Coordinator, at (301) 427-8014 or via email at

Background Information on 2014 Draft Revised and Updated NEPA Procedures

Early Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act NEPA Implementation Actions

NOAA Fisheries held a public workshop to conduct a detailed discussion of the proposed environmental review procedures for fishery management actions. The workshop was held on Tuesday July 29, 2008, in Silver Spring, MD.

NOAA Fisheries held three public meetings to solicit comments on the proposed rule that would revise and update the NOAA Fisheries procedures for complying with NEPA. The meetings were held on:

Rules and Notices

On May 14, 2008, NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule to revise and update NOAA Fisheries procedures for complying with NEPA in the context of fishery management actions. Public comments were accepted through August 12, 2008.

Related Documents

NOAA Fisheries solicited public comment through April 20, 2007, on the environmental review provisions required by the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act. For more information, see the request for comments.