Essential fish habitat is “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.” (Magnuson-Stevens Act)
The Council has direct responsibility for the effects of Council-managed fisheries on the essential fish habitat, or EFH, of our managed species. This responsibility includes identifying and describing EFH for the Council’s managed species, as well as both fishing and non-fishing impacts on habitat. These descriptions can be found in the Council’s fishery management plans (links below). They are updated roughly every five years.
The Council must also identify habitat areas of particular concern, which are a subset of EFH that highlight especially important habitat areas or types.
Finally, the Council is required to comment upon and make recommendations on activities it views as likely to “substantially affect the habitat, including EFH” of anadromous species (salmon) under its authority. For all other species’ EFH, the Council may make comments and recommendations. This includes commenting on activities that affect prey species, which are legally considered a component of EFH.
The Council’s Habitat Committee provides input into these EFH activities and alerts the Council to activities that might affect habitat. The Habitat Committee generates the Council’s comment letters on habitat issues.
Useful habitat links
- Habitat Committee, habitat correspondence, and topics discussed by the Habitat Committee
- Habitat backgrounder
- Council habitat goals: a list of general goals expressed in fishery management plans
- Council positions on habitat issues (as expressed in previous correspondence)
- Essential fish habitat description for coastal pelagic species (1998) and updated FMP language (2018)
- Essential fish habitat description for salmon
- Essential fish habitat description for groundfish (2019)
- Essential fish habitat description for highly migratory species (2018)
- NOAA interactive habitat mapper
- NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region essential fish habitat page
Upcoming Council Meeting
Rohnert Park, CA
DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma One Doubletree Drive Rohnert Park, CA 94928 Phone: 707-584-5466
Previous Council Meeting
Costa Mesa, CA
Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa 3050 Bristol StreetCosta Mesa, CA 92626 Phone: 714-540-7000