The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the United States federal agency responsible for the stewardship of national marine resources. The agency conserves and manages fisheries to promote sustainability and prevent lost economic potential associated with overfishing, declining species, and degraded habitats.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is a United States federal agency, informally known as NOAA Fisheries. A division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is in the cabinet-level Department of Commerce, NMFS is responsible for the stewardship and management of the nation's living marine resources and their habitats within the United States' exclusive economic zone, which extends seaward 200 nautical miles (230 miles; 370 kilometres) from the coastline. NOAA oversees the NMFS.
Using the tools provided by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS assesses and predicts the status of fish stocks, ensures compliance with fisheries regulations, and works to end wasteful fishing practices. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, the agency also monitors recovering protected marine species, such as wild salmon, whales, and sea turtles.
With the help of the six regional science centers, eight regional fisheries management councils, the coastal states and territories, and three interstate fisheries management commissions, NMFS conserves and manages marine fisheries to promote sustainability and to prevent lost economic potential associated with overfishing, declining species, and degraded habitats. While the coastal states and territories generally have authority to manage fisheries within near-shore state waters, the NMFS has the primary responsibility to conserve and manage marine fisheries in the U.S. exclusive economic zone beyond state waters. The agency also attempts to balance competing public needs for the natural resources under its management.
The NMFS also serves as a federal law enforcement agency, working closely with state enforcement agencies, the United States Coast Guard, and foreign enforcement authorities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement is based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The NMFS regulatory program is one of the most active in the federal government, with hundreds of regulations published annually in the Federal Register. Most regulations are published to conserve marine fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; other regulations are published under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. The NMFS also regulates fisheries pursuant to decisions of "regional fishery management organizations" (RFMOs)(RFMOs) and other RFMOs to which the U.S. is a party, such as the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, etc.
In 2007, the NMFS issued regulations to protect endangered whales from fatal fishing-gear entanglements after environmental groups sued to force action on the rules, which were proposed in early 2005. The rules were enacted to specifically protect the North Atlantic right whale, of which about only 350 remain. Marine-gear entanglements and ship strikes are the top human causes of right whale deaths. On July 1, the shipping lanes in and out of Boston Harbor were rotated to avoid an area with a high concentration of the right whales. In the fiscal year 2017, the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Program of NOAA's NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, Protected Resources Division, carried out the mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and was charged with protecting the whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea turtles that occur within the greater Atlantic region. This program currently includes marine mammal health and stranding response, large whale disentanglement, and sea turtle stranding and disentanglement. To implement this program, NMFS established several networks of volunteer organizations that it authorizes to respond to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles and entangled large whales and sea turtles. NMFS seeks the submission of proposals addressing Marine Animal Entanglement Response in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The eight domestic regional fisheries management councils make binding regulations for federal waters off various parts of the U.S. coast:
The NMFSational Marine Fisheries Service operates six fisheries science centers covering marine fisheries conducted by the United States. The science centers correspond roughly to the administrative division of fisheries management into five regions, with the west coast utilizing two fisheries science centers.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. It operates laboratories at five other locations, and an additional marine field station. Its primary mission is the management of fisheries on the Northeast shelf. However, it also oversees the operation of the National Systematics Lab, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center also operates the Woods Hole Science Aquarium in conjunction with the Marine Biological Laboratory.
The NMFS maintains the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Centers, both located in Seattle. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center is located on the grounds of the now-closed Naval Station Puget Sound. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center is located adjacent to the University of Washington. This site is also home to the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Center Library, founded in 1931. As of 2011, this library contained 16,000 books and subscribed to 250 periodicals. Its subject interests include aquatic science, biochemistry, fisheries biology, fisheries management, food science, and marine science.
The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Monoa. It operates several facilities, including facilities for NOAA ships at Ford Island.
The Southeast Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and monitors marine fisheries in the American Southeast, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It additionally operates five labs, some of which operate multiple facilities.
The Southwest Fisheries Science Center, headquartered in La Jolla, California, monitors and advises fisheries in NOAA's Southwest region. It operates facilities on the campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2013, a large facility on La Jolla Shores Drive was built by the architects Gould Evans, replacing an older building that was threatened by coastal erosion. (Although the original architects, 50 years earlier, had been informed that they were building on a "block-glide landslide," they received exemption "from local building code requirements for a preconstruction engineering geology study because it was a U.S. government complex." A 1979 book on coastal erosion reported that the building was "disastrously located. The ‘Tuna Hilton’ rests partially on a piece of bluff known as a slump block. Designers say the building is specially articulated so that it should stay intact as the bluff falls from underneath its seaward end.")
The NMFS traces its ancestry to the United States government′s oldest conservation agency, the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, which was established in 1871 because of a growing awareness in the United States of the depletion of fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean off the United States East Coast. Commonly referred to as the United States Fish Commission, the agency studied and managed live ocean resources. In 1903, when the United States Department of Commerce and Labor was created, the commission came under the authority of the new department and was reorganized as the United States Bureau of Fisheries. In 1913, when the Department of Commerce and Labor was split into the United States Department of Commerce and United States Department of Labor, the Bureau of Fisheries came under the control of the Department of Commerce. In 1939, the bureau moved to the United States Department of the Interior.
In 1940, the Bureau of Fisheries merged with the Bureau of Biological Survey to create the new United States Fish and Wildlife Service, still under the Department of the Interior. In 1956, the Fish and Wildlife Service underwent a reorganization that established under its authority the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, which focused on the commercial exploitation of fisheries, and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, which focused on recreational fishing.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon transferred the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and almost all its functions from the Fish and Wildlife Service to the Department of Commerce, and simultaneous with its transfer, the office was renamed the National Marine Fisheries Service. It was placed under the control of NOAA, which was created as a component of the Department of Commerce on 3 October 1970 primarily through a reorganization of the Environmental Science Services Administration, which NOAA replaced.
The NMFS received the authority to conserve ocean wildlife through the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973. In 1976, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, commonly referred to as the Magnuson–Stevens Act, gave the NMFS the authority to manage marine fish stocks, creating eight regional fisheries management councils to oversee fisheries, and the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 amended the 1976 legislation by making changes to authorize new ways of replenishing depleted fish stocks. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, which updated the Magnuson–Stevens Act with deadlines to end overfishing, increased use of market-based management tools, the creation of a national saltwater angler registry, and an emphasis on ecosystem approaches to management.
In recent years, the agency has come under intense scrutiny from the fishing industry, both commercial and recreational, and Congress, leading to a multipart investigation by the Commerce Department Inspector General, which found serious problems and misuse of funds.
During her confirmation hearing, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator in the Obama Administration, expressed a commitment to fix a relationship between the fishing industry and NMFS. Lubchenco herself called the relationship between NMFS and those whom it regulates "seriously dysfunctional."
Dale Jones, former director of federal fishing law enforcement, and his deputy director Mark Spurrier, were removed from their positions in April 2010 after a series of audits by U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General Todd Zinser. Mr. Zinser and his investigators found that Jones had presided over wildly excessive and disproportionate treatment of New England fishermen, misuse of government funds, and a document shredding party while Zinser was investigating his department. Andrew Cohen, Special Agent in Charge NER, was relieved of his position in September 2010 due to findings of overzealous law-enforcement practices.
During 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General issued four Reports or Reviews of NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Programs and Operations. Here are the links to the four reports January 2010 OIG Report, April 2010 OIG Report on Destruction of Documents at NOAA Fisheries During an Ongoing OIG Review, July 2010 OIG Report on Asset Forfeiture Fund, September 2010 Final OIG Report. The cluster of OIG Reports found such a troubling situation within NOAA that on September 23, 2010 Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke reached down into NOAA and took command himself for resolving the issues raised by Inspector General Zinser Secretary Locke to Appoint Special Master to Review NOAA Law Enforcement Cases, Restricts Use of the Asset Forfeiture Fund.
In 2016, the NMFS caused the death of the L95 killer whale of the critically endangered southern resident population. This population travels along the coast of both the United States and Canada, and Canada does not use barbed satellite tags to track them because the method is invasive, but the NMFS made the unilateral decision to tag southern resident orcas. The L95 whale died 5 weeks after being shot with a barbed satellite tag and the Canadian necropsy concluded the barb caused a lethal fungal infection. Prior to L95's tagging, Center for Whale Research Senior Scientist Ken Balcomb documented tag detachment issues and was assured by the NMFS that these issues were "fixed", but the tag on L95 broke off and pieces of the barb remained in L95 until death. Although Balcomb documented infections where barbs had failed to detach on killer whales and presented his findings to the NMFS, the NMFS site read years later in October 2016, "Our experience with previous occurrences of tag attachment failure has shown no impact to the whale’s general health." Though ocean water could enter the wound and whale skin is not sterile, the NMFS stated the fungal infection may have occurred because the barbed tag was dropped in the ocean and was sterilized with only alcohol, rather than both alcohol and bleach, prior to being aimed again at the orca. Two other members of the southern resident orca population disappeared within weeks of being tagged by the NMFS and are presumed dead, although the cause of death, if dead, is uncertain as the bodies were not recovered. Wildlife biologist Brad Hanson supervised the NMFS's killer-whale tagging program. He was not removed from his position following the scandal.
The alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is an anadromous species of herring found in North America. It is one of the "typical" North American shads, attributed to the subgenus Pomolobus of the genus Alosa. As an adult it is a marine species found in the northern West Atlantic Ocean, moving into estuaries before swimming upstream to breed in freshwater habitats, but some populations live entirely in fresh water. It is best known for its invasion of the Great Lakes by using the Welland Canal to bypass Niagara Falls. Here, its population surged, peaking between the 1950s and 1980s to the detriment of many native species of fish. In an effort to control them biologically, Pacific salmon were introduced, only partially successfully. As a marine fish, the alewife is a US National Marine Fisheries Service "Species of Concern".Atlantic wolffish
The Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), also known as the seawolf, Atlantic catfish, ocean catfish, devil fish, wolf eel (the common name for its Pacific relative), woof or sea cat, is a marine fish of the wolffish family Anarhichadidae. The numbers of the Atlantic wolffish in US waters are rapidly being depleted, most likely due to overfishing and bycatch, and is currently a Species of Concern according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service.Apart from their unique appearance wolffish are distinguished by the natural antifreeze they produce to keep their blood moving fluidly in their very cold habitat, involvement by both the male and female in brood bearing, and the large size of their eggs. They are also an important factor in controlling green crab and sea urchin populations, which can become overly disruptive to habitats if left unchecked. Wolffish population success is also an important indicator of the health of other bottom-dweller populations, such as Atlantic cod.Calico grouper
Epinephelus drummondhayi is a species of fish in the family Serranidae. It is commonly called the calico grouper, kitty mitchell, speckled hind, or strawberry grouper. It is found in Bermuda and the United States. Its natural habitats are open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, and coral reefs. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The speckled hind is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).Canary rockfish
The canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) is a rockfish of the northeast Pacific Ocean, found from south of Shelikof Strait in the eastern Gulf of Alaska to Punta Colonet in northern Baja California.Chaceon quinquedens
Chaceon quinquedens, commonly known as the Atlantic deep sea red crab, or simply Atlantic red crab or red crab is a crab that lives in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of the United States and Canada, from North Carolina to Nova Scotia.The crab is commercially fished as food; the National Marine Fisheries Service annual quota is 3.95 million pounds. The species resembles a snow crab from Alaska. According to the Virginia Marine Products Board, the average weight of the crab is about one to two pounds, and the average size is "1-2 lbs. or 5 to 7 inches (12.5cm-17.5cm) across the back of the shell."Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research
The Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research is designed to be a focal point for interactions between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and the Arctic research community through the University of Alaska for research related to the Western Arctic/Bering Sea region.
(CIFAR) was established through a Memorandum of Understanding between NOAA and the University of Alaska. CIFAR is exclusively concerned with Arctic research. They work closely with NOAA's Arctic Research Office and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). Partnerships with NOAA also include the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Ocean Service (NOS), and an emerging relationship with the National Weather Service.Eulachon
The eulachon (; Thaleichthys pacificus; also spelled oolichan , ooligan , hooligan ), also called the candlefish, is a small anadromous ocean fish, a smelt found along the Pacific coast of North America from northern California to Alaska.Experimental Oculina Research Reserve
The Experimental Oculina Research Reserve preserves the Oculina Banks, a reef of ivory bush coral (Oculina varicosa) off the coast of Fort Pierce, Florida. Oculina varicosa is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service species of concern. Species of concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).Hyporthodus nigritus
The Warsaw grouper (Hyporthodus nigritus) is a species of marine fish in the family Serranidae, found in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, Trinidad, and south to Brazil (Rio de Janeiro). Its natural habitats are open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, and coral reefs. It is threatened by habitat loss.The Warsaw grouper is a US National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service have some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the Endangered Species Act.Ivory bush coral
The ivory bush coral (Oculina varicosa)) is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service species of concern. Species of concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).Key silverside
The Key silverside (Menidia conchorum) is a species of fish in the Atherinopsidae family. It is endemic to the United States.
The Key silverside has been recently recommended for threatened status by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The species is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), commonly referred to as the Magnuson–Stevens Act (MSA), is the legal provision for promoting optimal exploitation of U.S. coastal fisheries. Enacted in 1976, it has since been amended in line with sustainability policy.
Regional councils of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determine when a stock is overfished, and apply both regional and individual catch limits. The NMFS has implemented the Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI), which measures key stocks according to their overfishing status and biomass levels.National Marine Mammal Laboratory
The National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) is a United States research laboratory that undertakes research into marine mammals under the direction of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The laboratory is responsible for all government-run marine mammal research across the United States. However, the Laboratory is based in Seattle, Washington, and research work tends to be focused on the coastal waters of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Research tasks including stock quality and quantity assessment and in particular assessing trends in stock sizes. Research methods include satellite telemetry analysis and fieldwork from aircraft and ships.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) is a federal police part of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. The leadership consists of Director Bruce Buckson, Deputy Director Matthew Brandt, Assistant Director Todd Dubois, and Assistant Director John Longenecker.
It was established in 1930 as Division of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish Commission and Bureau . It is responsible for the ecosystem protection and conservation of most of national marine life. It is the only federal agency for such. As of 2011, it has more than 200 employees.
NOAA OLE is divided into six divisional offices (Northeast, Southeast, Alaska, Northwest, Southwest and Pacific Islands), led by a Special Agent in Charge, and 52 field offices, e.g., Pago Pago, American Samoa; Ellsworth, Maine; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.Portage Bay
Portage Bay is a body of water, often thought of as the eastern arm of Lake Union, that forms a part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle, Washington.
To the east, Portage Bay is connected with Union Bay—a part of Lake Washington—by the Montlake Cut, over which spans the Montlake Bridge carrying State Route 513. To the north is the campus of the University of Washington. To the west, Portage Bay is spanned by the University Bridge, which carries Eastlake Avenue between Eastlake and the University District. Its westernmost limit can be said to be the Ship Canal Bridge, which carries Interstate 5 over the water; past this bridge, the body of water is deemed to be Lake Union. In the southern portion, Portage Bay is spanned by the Portage Bay Viaduct, which carries State Route 520 from the Eastlake/Capitol Hill district to Montlake.
Portage Bay was named in 1913 because of the portage across the Montlake Isthmus that used to be necessary to move logs from Union Bay to Lake Union before the construction of the Ship Canal. The bay is home to two yacht clubs, the Seattle and the Queen City, and many houseboats, as well as the Northwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Washington's College of Ocean and Fishery Science.Sebastes levis
Sebastes levis, the cowcod, is a member of the Sebastidae (rockfish) family. In Greek, Sebastes means "magnificent," and levis is Latin for "capricious" or "fantastic".Striped croaker
The striped croaker is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).U.S. Regional Fishery Management Councils
The eight U.S. regional fishery management councils are the primary forums for developing conservation and management measures for U.S. marine fisheries. The regional councils recommend management measures for fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); which are subject to approval and implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The councils were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976. In 1996, revisions to the laws governing the regional fishery management councils were made by the Sustainable Fisheries Act, which includes provisions to reduce bycatch, consider the effects of management decisions on communities, and protect essential fish habitats.The councils are composed of individuals with a stake in the fishery. This includes federal and state officials, primarily from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Additionally, councils have at-large and obligatory members selected by state governors to represent non-government stakeholders and special interests such as commercial fishermen, fisheries scientists, and charter boat owners.Virginia Marine Police
The Virginia Marine Police is a law enforcement division with statewide jurisdiction in the commonwealth of Virginia, United States. The agency operates as a division of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission established in 1875.
The primary responsibility is enforcement of state commercial and recreational fishery regulations as well as federal wildlife laws of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Virginia Marine Police are also authorized to perform other law enforcement duties including investigation of criminal activities and boating accidents. The agency provides resources for search and rescue operations.
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