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EFH Source Documents

The NOAA Fisheries Service has taken a broad view of habitat as the area used by fish throughout their life cycle. Fish use habitat for spawning, feeding, nursery, migration, and shelter, but most habitats provide only a subset of these functions. Fish may change habitats with changes in life history stage, seasonal and geographic distributions, abundance, and interactions with other species. The type of habitat, as well as its attributes and functions, are important for sustaining the production of managed species.

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has compiled the available information on the distribution, abundance, and habitat requirements for each of the species managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. That information is presented in a series of EFH species reports (plus one consolidated methods report). These reports comprise a survey of the important literature as well as original analyses of fishery-independent data sets from the NOAA Fisheries Service and several coastal states. The species reports are a primary source used by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils for describing features of essential fish habitat.

The initial series of EFH species source documents were published in 1999 in the NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE series. Updating and review of the EFH components of the councils’ fishery management plans is required at least every five years. Second editions of several of these species source documents were written to provide the updated information needed to meet these requirements. The second editions provide new information on life history, geographic distribution, and habitat requirements via recent literature, research, and fishery surveys, and incorporate updated and revised maps and graphs.

All of the EFH source documents for the species managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils are available online at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's EFH Source Documents website.