Contact: Connie Barclay
NOAA News Releases 2003
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has opened a public comment period through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) addressing potential revisions to the essential fish habitat (EFH) guidelines. Those who wish to comment on the potential revisions have until January 26, 2004 to do so. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment as part of its continuing commitment to evaluate the efficacy of the EFH guidelines. The 1996 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act created the EFH provisions that require fishery management plans to describe and identify EFH and minimize adverse impacts on it that are caused by fishing activities.

The 1996 amendments also require the secretary of commerce, through NOAA Fisheries, to develop guidelines for the implementation of the EFH provisions. These guidelines describe the procedures that NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils use to avoid and minimize impacts on EFH resulting from fishing and non-fishing related activities in our nation’s waters. During the finalization of the guidelines in January 2002, NOAA Fisheries recognized that there remained a great deal of interest from its various stakeholders regarding how to integrate habitat considerations into fisheries management.

The ANPR requests comment from the public through two questions. The first question asks the public whether the EFH guidelines (50 CFR Parts 600.805 to 600.930) should be revised, while the second asks for the parts of the guidelines that need revision, how they should be revised and why. NOAA Fisheries will use any comments received to determine whether or not to revise the EFH guidelines.

The comment period for the ANPR will close on January 26, 2004. Written comments can be mailed to Rolland A. Schmitten, Director, Office of Habitat Conservation; NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service; F/HC, 1315 East-West Highway; Silver Spring, MD 20910. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 427-2570. Comments will not be accepted via email or the Internet. For further information, contact Karen Abrams or David MacDuffee at (301) 713-4300.

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and the habitat on which they depend through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA’s stewardship of these resources benefits the nation by supporting coastal communities that depend upon them while helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA Fisheries: