Get Email Updates

Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus)

Sustainable Fisheries is the policy and implementation branch of fisheries management in the Greater Atlantic Region. Sustainable Fisheries staff works cooperatively with the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop, review, and implement fishery management plans in federal waters (from 3 to 200 nautical miles). The division is responsible for federal waters from Maine to North Carolina and works on 14 fishery management plans.

What are the applicable laws governing Greater Atlantic Region fisheries management?

The Sustainable Fisheries Division administers the federal fisheries management program for the Greater Atlantic Region under authority specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In 1996, the act was amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act and included new mandates to better address fisheries bycatch, habitat conservation and new standards for fishery conservation that the Fishery Management Councils and the NOAA must meet. The act was further refined in 2006 by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act. The Reauthorized Act mandates the use of annual catch limits and accountability measures to end overfishing, allows for management through limited access privilege programs, and calls for increased international cooperation. The Sustainable Fisheries Division also reviews all fishery actions to ensure compliance with other applicable laws, including but not limited to:

Which fishery management plans does the Greater Atlantic Region Sustainable Fisheries Division manage?

The Sustainable Fisheries Division works on fishery management plans with the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. Two fishery management plans, monkfish and spiny dogfish, are jointly managed by both Councils.

SFD Management Responsibilities

How are species such as American Lobster, Atlantic Menhaden, and Northern Shrimp managed?

Some species found in the Greater Atlantic Region are managed exclusively by the states under the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and some species are managed in both state waters (0-3 miles) and federal waters (3-200 miles). For more information on species managed exclusively in state waters go to the ASMFC's website.

* American Lobster is managed in both state and federal waters, by the ASMFC and NOAA Fisheries respectively. American lobster is managed under the authority of the Atlantic Coastal Act and not under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which means that lobster is not managed by the New England Council even though it is managed in federal waters. Find more information on the American lobster fishery here.

Who should you contact with any questions on fishery information or regulations?

Sustainable Fisheries staff is happy to answer any questions you may have. Click here for a list of staff.

How are Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, and billfish species federally managed?

NOAA's Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division federally manages Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS); including tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish.

The HMS Management Division has staff co-located in the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. For more information on HMS Management, please click here or call 978-281-9260.