U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 24, 2023
(a) Purpose. (1) This subpart establishes guidelines, based on the national standards, to assist in the development and review of FMPs, amendments, and regulations prepared by the Councils and the Secretary.
(2) In developing FMPs, the Councils have the initial authority to ascertain factual circumstances, to establish management objectives, and to propose management measures that will achieve the objectives. The Secretary will determine whether the proposed management objectives and measures are consistent with the national standards, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and other applicable law. The Secretary has an obligation under section 301(b) of the MSA to inform the Councils of the Secretary's interpretation of the national standards so that they will have an understanding of the basis on which FMPs will be reviewed.
(3) The national standards are statutory principles that must be followed in any FMP. The guidelines summarize Secretarial interpretations that have been, and will be, applied under these principles. The guidelines are intended as aids to decision-making; FMPs formulated according to the guidelines will have a better chance for expeditious Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. FMPs that are not formulated according to the guidelines may not be approved by the Secretary if the FMP or FMP amendment is inconsistent with the MSA or other applicable law (16 U.S.C. 1854(a)(3)).
(b) Fishery management objectives. (1) Each FMP, whether prepared by a Council or by the Secretary, should identify what the FMP is designed to accomplish (i.e., the management objectives to be attained in regulating the fishery under consideration). In establishing objectives, Councils balance biological constraints with human needs, reconcile present and future costs and benefits, and integrate the diversity of public and private interests. If objectives are in conflict, priorities should be established among them.
(2) To reflect the changing needs of the fishery over time, Councils should reassess the FMP's management objectives on a regular basis.
(3) How objectives are defined is important to the management process. Objectives should address the problems of a particular fishery. The objectives should be clearly stated, practicably attainable, framed in terms of definable events and measurable benefits, and based upon a comprehensive rather than a fragmentary approach to the problems addressed. An FMP should make a clear distinction between objectives and the management measures chosen to achieve them. The objectives of each FMP provide the context within which the Secretary will judge the consistency of an FMP's conservation and management measures with the national standards.
(c) Stocks that require conservation and management. (1) Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(h)(1) requires a Council to prepare an FMP for each fishery under its authority that requires (or in other words, is in need of) conservation and management. 16 U.S.C. 1852(h)(1). Not every fishery requires Federal management. Any stocks that are predominately caught in Federal waters and are overfished or subject to overfishing, or likely to become overfished or subject to overfishing, are considered to require conservation and management. Beyond such stocks, Councils may determine that additional stocks require “conservation and management.” (See Magnuson-Stevens Act definition at 16 U.S.C. 1802(5)). Based on this definition of conservation and management, and other relevant provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a Council should consider the following non-exhaustive list of factors when deciding whether additional stocks require conservation and management:
(i) The stock is an important component of the marine environment.
(ii) The stock is caught by the fishery.
(iii) Whether an FMP can improve or maintain the condition of the stock.
(iv) The stock is a target of a fishery.
(v) The stock is important to commercial, recreational, or subsistence users.
(vi) The fishery is important to the Nation or to the regional economy.
(vii) The need to resolve competing interests and conflicts among user groups and whether an FMP can further that resolution.
(viii) The economic condition of a fishery and whether an FMP can produce more efficient utilization.
(ix) The needs of a developing fishery, and whether an FMP can foster orderly growth.
(x) The extent to which the fishery is already adequately managed by states, by state/Federal programs, or by Federal regulations pursuant to other FMPs or international commissions, or by industry self-regulation, consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law.
(2) In evaluating factors in paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (x) of this section, a Council should consider the specific circumstances of a fishery, based on the best scientific information available, to determine whether there are biological, economic, social and/or operational concerns that can and should be addressed by Federal management.
(3) When considering adding a stock to an FMP, no single factor is dispositive or required. One or more of the above factors, and any additional considerations that may be relevant to the particular stock, may provide the basis for determining that a stock requires conservation and management. Based on the factor in paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section, if the amount and/or type of catch that occurs in Federal waters is a significant contributing factor to the stock's status, such information would weigh heavily in favor of adding a stock to an FMP. However, Councils should consider the factor in paragraph (c)(1)(x) of this section before deciding to include a stock in an FMP. In many circumstances, adequate management of a fishery by states, state/Federal programs, or another Federal FMP would weigh heavily against a Federal FMP action. See, e.g., 16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(7) and 1856(a)(3).
(4) When considering removing a stock from, or continuing to include a stock in, an FMP, Councils should prepare a thorough analysis of factors in paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (x) of this section, and any additional considerations that may be relevant to the particular stock. As mentioned in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, if the amount and/or type of catch that occurs in Federal waters is a significant contributing factor to the stock's status, such information would weigh heavily in favor of continuing to include a stock in an FMP. Councils should consider weighting the factors as follows. Factors in paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (iii) of this section should be considered first, as they address maintaining a fishery resource and the marine environment. See 16 U.S.C. 1802(5)(A). These factors weigh in favor of continuing to include a stock in an FMP. Councils should next consider factors in paragraphs (c)(1)(iv) through (ix) of this section, which set forth key economic, social, and other reasons contained within the MSA for an FMP action. See 16 U.S.C. 1802(5)(B). Finally, a Council should consider the factor in paragraph (c)(1)(x) of this section before deciding to remove a stock from, or continue to include a stock in, an FMP. In many circumstances, adequate management of a fishery by states, state/Federal programs, or another Federal FMP would weigh in favor of removing a stock from an FMP. See e.g., 16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(7) and 1856(a)(3).
(5) Councils may choose to identify stocks within their FMPs as ecosystem component (EC) species (see § § 600.305(d)(13) and 600.310(d)(1)) if a Council determines that the stocks do not require conservation and management based on the considerations and factors in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. EC species may be identified at the species or stock level, and may be grouped into complexes. Consistent with National Standard 9, MSA section 303(b)(12), and other applicable MSA sections, management measures can be adopted in order to, for example, collect data on the EC species, minimize bycatch or bycatch mortality of EC species, protect the associated role of EC species in the ecosystem, and/or to address other ecosystem issues.
(6) A stock or stock complex may be identified in more than one FMP. In this situation, the relevant Councils should choose which FMP will be the primary FMP in which reference points for the stock or stock complex will be established. In other FMPs, the stock or stock complex may be identified as “other managed stocks” and management measures that are consistent with the objectives of the primary FMP can be established.
(7) Councils should periodically review their FMPs and the best scientific information available and determine if the stocks are appropriately identified. As appropriate, stocks should be reclassified within an FMP, added to or removed from an existing FMP, or added to a new FMP, through an FMP amendment that documents the rationale for the decision.
(d) Word usage within the National Standard Guidelines. The word usage refers to all regulations in this subpart.
(1) Must is used, instead of “shall”, to denote an obligation to act; it is used primarily when referring to requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the logical extension thereof, or of other applicable law.
(2) Shall is used only when quoting statutory language directly, to avoid confusion with the future tense.
(3) Should is used to indicate that an action or consideration is strongly recommended to fulfill the Secretary's interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and is a factor reviewers will look for in evaluating a statement of organization, practices, and procedures (SOPP) or an FMP.
(4) May is used in a permissive sense.
(5) Will is used descriptively, as distinguished from denoting an obligation to act or the future tense.
(6) Could is used when giving examples, in a hypothetical, permissive sense.
(7) Can is used to mean “is able to,” as distinguished from “may.”
(8) Examples are given by way of illustration and further explanation. They are not inclusive lists; they do not limit options.
(9) Analysis, as a paragraph heading, signals more detailed guidance as to the type of discussion and examination an FMP should contain to demonstrate compliance with the standard in question.
(10) Council includes the Secretary, as applicable, when preparing FMPs or amendments under section 304(c) and (g) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
(11) Target stocks are stocks or stock complexes that fishers seek to catch for sale or personal use, including such fish that are discarded for economic or regulatory reasons as defined under Magnuson-Stevens Act section 3(9) and 3(38).
(12) Non-target species and non-target stocks are fish caught incidentally during the pursuit of target stocks in a fishery. Non-target stocks may require conservation and management and, if so, must be included in a FMP and be identified at the stock or stock complex level. If non-target species are not in need of conservation and management, they may be identified in an FMP as ecosystem component species.
(13) Ecosystem Component Species (see §§ 600.305(c)(5) and 600.310(d)(1)) are stocks that a Council or the Secretary has determined do not require conservation and management, but desire to list in an FMP in order to achieve ecosystem management objectives.
(e) Relationship of National Standard 1 to other national standards—General. National Standard 1 addresses preventing overfishing and achieving optimum yield. See 16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(1) and 50 CFR 600.310. National Standards 2 through 10 provide further requirements for conservation and management measures in FMPs. See 16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(2) through (10) and 50 CFR 600.315 through 600.355. Below is a description of how some of the other National Standards intersect with National Standard 1.
(1) National Standard 2 (see § 600.315). Management measures and reference points to implement NS1 must be based on the best scientific information available. When data are insufficient to estimate reference points directly, Councils should develop reasonable proxies to the extent possible (also see § 600.310(e)(1)(v)(B)). In cases where scientific data are severely limited, effort should also be directed to identifying and gathering the needed data. SSCs should advise their Councils regarding the best scientific information available for fishery management decisions.
(2) National Standard 3 (see § 600.320). Reference points should generally be specified in terms of the level of stock aggregation for which the best scientific information is available (also see § 600.310(e)(1)(ii) and (iii)).
(3) National Standard 6 (see § 600.335). Councils must build into the reference points and control rules appropriate consideration of risk, taking into account uncertainties in estimating harvest, stock conditions, life history parameters, or the effects of environmental factors.
(4) National Standard 8 (see § 600.345). National Standard 8 addresses economic and social considerations and minimizing to the extent practicable adverse economic impacts on fishing communities within the context of preventing overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks as required under National Standard 1 and other MSA provisions. Calculation of OY as reduced from maximum sustainable yield (MSY) also includes consideration of economic and social factors, but the combination of management measures chosen to achieve the OY must principally be designed to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks.
(5) National Standard 9 (see § 600.350). Evaluation of stock status with respect to reference points must take into account mortality caused by bycatch. In addition, the estimation of catch should include the mortality of fish that are discarded.