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Councils at the Heart of the Magnuson-Stevens Act

Fishing boat

As the nation marks the 35th anniversary of its visionary fishery management law, Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, points to the key roles of the men and women who serve on eight regional fishery management councils.

“At the heart of the 35-year-old Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the role of the highly participatory, regional management councils,” said Schwaab. “By designing plans to rebuild and sustain fisheries, the men and women who serve on the councils are helping this nation turn the corner to a brighter future for fishermen and fishing communities.”

The regional fishery management councils were created as part of the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Act in 1976 to ensure that those closest to the issues facing fishing communities helped design conservation and management plans for commercial and recreational fisheries.  The council process brings together stakeholders in fishery issues to work together in a public forum to develop management plans for U.S. fisheries. 


Commerce announces 2011 regional fishery council appointments

The Commerce Department today, June 2, announced the appointment of 21 new and returning members to the eight regional fishery management councils. Read about new council appointments

Each year, coastal state governors nominate people to serve on councils whose occupational or other experience, scientific expertise, or training make them knowledgable about the conservation and management of their regional fisheries. After careful review, the Secretary of Commerce then appoints members from these lists to fill open seats. Approximately one-third of the appointed council seats become vacant each year.  Once appointed, council members serve three-year terms, and members may be reappointed to serve up to three consecutive terms.

Decisions Driven By Science


The eight Regional Fishery Management Councils serve as the front line of fisheries management, where regionally specific management measures such as fishing seasons, quotas, and closed areas are initiated, developed, and ultimately adopted in a fully transparent and public process. Council

decisions are subject to rigorous scientific analysis. Scientists and policy analysts evaluate potential fishery regulations for both environmental and

socioeconomic impacts. Proposed regulations are vetted by expert panels of scientists, stakeholders, and by the public, before a Council makes a final decision. The open process provided by the Council system allows everyone to have a say in the stewardship of our marine resources and how fisheries are managed.

To learn more about the Fisheries Management Councils, visit

Or visit the US Regional Fisheries Councils website:

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