About the Council
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Mid-Atlantic Council or MAFMC) is one of eight regional councils responsible for the conservation and management of fishery resources within U.S. federal waters. The Mid-Atlantic Council manages fisheries from 3 to 200 miles off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina (NC is also represented on the South Atlantic Council).
Overview of Federal Fisheries Management
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the main law that governs fishing in U.S. federal waters. First passed in 1976, the MSA established a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and created eight regional fishery management councils to manage the nation’s marine fishery resources. The regional council system gives fishery managers the flexibility to use local level input to develop management strategies appropriate for each region’s unique fisheries.
The councils develop management plans for marine fisheries in waters seaward of state waters of their individual regions. Plans and specific management measures (such as fishing seasons, quotas, and closed areas) are developed based on sound scientific advice, and are initiated, evaluated, and adopted in a fully transparent and public process. The decisions made by the councils are not final until they are approved or partially approved by the Secretary of Commerce through NMFS. Learn more about the regional fishery management councils at http://www.fisherycouncils.org.
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manages fisheries from 3 to 200 miles off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina (NC is also represented on the South Atlantic Council).
The Council is made up of 21 voting members and four non-voting members. Eight of the voting members represent the constituent states' fish and wildlife agencies and the NMFS regional office, and 13 are private citizens who are knowledgeable about recreational fishing, commercial fishing, or marine conservation. The four non-voting members represent the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Council manages more than 64 species with seven fishery management plans (FMPs). Fourteen species are directly managed with specific FMPs. These include summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Atlantic bluefish, Atlantic mackerel, Illex and longfin squids, butterfish, Atlantic surfclams, ocean quahogs, golden and blueline tilefish, spiny dogfish, and monkfish. An additional 50+ forage species are managed as “ecosystem components,” meaning that the Council can set possession and landing limits to prevent the expansion of directed fisheries on these species in the Mid-Atlantic.
The Council coordinates its management activities closely with several other management bodies to ensure that fisheries are managed effectively across jurisdictional boundaries. Spiny dogfish and monkfish are both managed under joint fishery management plans developed by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Council. Many of the Council’s managed fisheries are fished for in state waters or outside of the Mid-Atlantic region, so the Council works with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to coordinate management of summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, and spiny dogfish.
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Plans:
The Council meets six times each year, alternating meeting sites within the jurisdictions of the appointed member states of the Council. Most Council meetings take three days. Advisory bodies also meet at various times during and between Council meetings. All meetings are open to the public, except for sessions in which the Council deals with personnel and litigation issues.