Symposium Summary: Translating Essential Fish Habitat Science into Fishery Management Decisions

Olive rockfish juveniles swimming through giant kelp and rocky reef essential fish habitat. Credit: Adam Obaza, NOAA Affiliate

Olive rockfish juveniles swimming through giant kelp and rocky reef essential fish habitat. Credit: Adam Obaza, NOAA Affiliate

Sponsors: NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation and NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology

Habitat protection reached a milestone in 2016 with the 20-year anniversary of the essential fish habitat (EFH) provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In celebration of this milestone, speakers shared key elements that enable habitat science to be translated into successful management actions. Steve Brown (NOAA Fisheries) reviewed goals, objectives, and strategies for advancing habitat assessments at NOAA Fisheries. John Stadler (NOAA Fisheries) outlined his experience working with the Pacific Fishery Management Council to review and revise EFH information and conservation measures for Pacific Coast groundfish. Douglas Zemeckis (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) provided findings on the spatial and temporal distribution of cod spawning activity during the winter in Massachusetts Bay and the Gulf of Maine. Stephen Brandt (Oregon State University) presented insights on how to better define habitat quality and dynamics for pelagic fishes to delimit EFH, and define linkages between habitat drivers and species production to aid managers. Lastly, Zack Oyafuso (University of Hawaii-Manoa) used multispecies distribution models on the Hawaii Deep Seven Bottomfish complex to quantify how well current spatial fisheries management actually captures EFH for these species. Read the abstracts here.

— Lauren Latchford, ERT, Inc./NOAA Fisheries