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National Standard Guidelines

U.S. marine fisheries are scientifically monitored, regionally managed, and legally enforced under a number of requirements, including ten national standards. The National Standards are principles that must be followed in any fishery management plan (FMP) to ensure sustainable and responsible fishery management. As mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, NOAA Fisheries has developed guidelines for each National Standard. When reviewing FMPs, FMP amendments, and regulations, the Secretary of Commerce must ensure that they are consistent with the National Standard guidelines.

National Standard 1 – Optimum Yield

Conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery for the United States fishing industry.

National Standard 2 – Scientific Information

Conservation and management measures shall be based upon the best scientific information available.

National Standard 3 – Management Units

To the extent practicable, an individual stock of fish shall be managed as a unit throughout its range, and interrelated stocks of fish shall be managed as a unit or in close coordination.

National Standard 4 – Allocations

Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of different states. If it becomes necessary to allocate or assign fishing privileges among various United States fishermen, such allocation shall be (a) fair and equitable to all such fishermen; (b) reasonably calculated to promote conservation; and (c) carried out in such manner that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privilege.

National Standard 5 – Efficiency

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 6 - Variations and Contingencies

Conservation and management measures shall take into account and allow for variations among, and contingencies in, fisheries, fishery resources, and catches.

National Standard 7 – Costs and Benefits

Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, minimize costs and avoid unnecessary duplication.

National Standard 8 – Communities

Conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act (including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data that meet the requirement of paragraph (2) [i.e., National Standard 2], in order to (a) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (b) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.

National Standard 9 – Bycatch

Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, (a) minimize bycatch and (b) to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch.

National Standard 10 – Safety of Life at Sea

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