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NEFMC – The New England Fishery Management Council

What is the New England Fishery Management Council?


Among its many significant accomplishments, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act established a U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between 3 to 200 miles offshore. It also created 8 regional fishery councils to manage the resources within each designated area. This allowed for fisheries to be managed and also protected the coast from foreign fishing concerns.

In New England, the fishery is managed by the New England Fishery Management Council, located at 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. Phone: (978) 465-0492, Fax: (978) 465-3116, Email: joleary@nefmc.org

Council Membership
The council consists of the NMFS regional administrator, or a designee; Five officials, one from each state’s fishery office; and 12 members nominated by the governors of the five New England coastal states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The nominees must be approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Terms are for 3 years, and no member can serve more that three terms. There are also four non-voting members representing the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of State, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Because some members are active fishermen or are in the industry their knowledge and experience is very valuable. However, members may also have a financial stake in fishery-related matters such as harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity. The practice is allowable so long as the member in question makes that interest known. Council members are not allowed to vote on matters that would benefit only them or a minority of other people. Financial disclosure must be available on the Internet and at the council office.

Council member serve on one or more study committees, or “oversight” committees in order to evaluate a specific fishery issue. This ensures that data, methods and regulations are thoroughly studied should it become necessary to adopt or amend a fishery management plan.

Committees meet regularly to review and discuss individual fishery management plans (FMPs) and develop specific measures that will form the basis of the plan, plan amendment or framework adjustment to an FMP. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the full council for their approval before inclusion in any draft or final version of a plan.

Advisory Panels are made up of scientists, environmental advocates, industry members, recreational fishermen and others with knowledge and experience related to fishery issues. They meet separately or jointly with an oversight committee and provide input in forming management plan measures. Advisors are appointed every three years following a solicitation for candidates. After reviewing applications, the oversight committee recommends new or returning advisers. The council’s Executive Committee issues the final approval for each candidate.

Plan Development Teams serve as an extension of the council staff and are made up of scientists, managers and other experts with knowledge and experience related to biology and/or management of a particular species. Teams provide analyses, develop studies and compose studies. A council member chairs each team, which is usually made up of academia or state and federal regulators.

The New England Fishery Management Council has developed nine fishery management plans (FMPs) to date. All have been implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service and many have been amended a number of times.

The New England Council has the lead the way in preparing the Monkfish Plan with the Mid-Atlantic Council (MAFMC), another of the 8 councils. The MAFMC leads in the preparation of measures for the joint Spiny Dogfish plan. The Atlantic Salmon Plan contains a single measure that prohibits possession of this species and any directed or incidental (bycatch) commercial fishery in federal waters.

They have developed plans for Northeast Multispecies, also known as groundfish, scallops, monkfish, herring, small mesh multispecies (whiting), dogfish, red crab, skates and Atlantic salmon. The groundfish regulations include Redfish, American plaice, Georges Bank haddock, Gulf of Maine haddock, Gulf of Maine cod, Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine yellowtail flounder, Georges Bank yellowtail, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic winter flounder, Gulf of Maine winter flounder, Southern windowpane flounder and Pollock.

The council also monitors habitats, ecosystems, enforcement and bycatch, and it also collects data, conducts studies and forms committees to study assorted matters.

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