Managing fisheries is just as much about managing people as it is about managing fish. The regional fishery management council system was designed to operate as a bottom-up, stakeholder-driven process in which stakeholders could actively participate.
The Magnuson Stevens Act defines a fishing community as
"…a community which is substantially dependent on or substantially engaged in the harvest or processing of fishery resources to meet social and economic needs, and includes fishing vessel owners, operators, and crew and United States fish processors that are based in such community.”
The council is obligated to consider the potential impacts of regulations on these fishing communities and avoid adverse impacts whenever possible.
There is also a broader community of people who participate in the Council process. These people, while not financially dependent on the fisheries, are engaged in fisheries management for a wide variety of reasons. Some enjoy recreational fishing, while others are interested in the environmental impacts of fishing regulations.
The Council process offers many opportunities for people with a wide range of experience and expertise to get involved. This aspect of the system helps to produce regulations that make sense for the fish, the ecosystem, and the the human communities.