Pacific Fishery Management Council Implementation of Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
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Eight Regional Fishery Management Councils, together with the National Marine Fisheries Service, are responsible for Federal fisheries management in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. They do so in accordance with many statutory mandates, including the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The Ecosystem Principles Advisory Panel, established by the Sustainable Fisheries Act, recommended that the Regional Fishery Management Councils adopt an ecosystem-based management approach. This recommendation was endorsed and reiterated by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the National Ocean Council, and the Pew Oceans Commission, each recommending that fisheries managers adopt management methods to transition from a single species approach to one that is ecosystem-based. The Regional Fishery Management Councils are afforded considerable discretion, and approaches to fisheries management can include elements of both single species and ecosystem-based management strategies. The extent to which an ecosystem-based approach has been adopted can be assessed based on (1) the presence of ecosystem-based management characteristics, and (2) the adoption of a comprehensive plan to implement those characteristics. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which manages fisheries on the U.S. West Coast at the Federal level, is following a hybrid approach, utilizing in large part a single species approach to management in its fishery management plans, but also incorporating many elements of ecosystem-based management. Recently, it has taken additional concrete steps to advance ecosystem-based management through the development and adoption of a Fishery Ecosystem Plan, and by bringing information generated by NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment into the Pacific Fishery Management Council process. The cumulative effect of these efforts indicates that a transition towards ecosystem-based fishery management is being made gradually. Additional actions focusing on functional coordination and the development of a single set of measurable objectives may facilitate this transition.
- Marine affairs 
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