Magnuson-Stevens Fishery & Conservation Act

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act, PL 94-265), as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, requires federal agencies to consult with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries on activities that may adversely affect essential fish habitat (EFH). EFH is the waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. Projects that receive federal funding or authorization must comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act if they may adversely affect the EFH of relevant fisheries.

Compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act

Read Chapter 16: Essential Fish Habitat of the Biological Assessment preparation manual to understand how to comply with this act. This chapter includes procedures for completing EFH consultation with NOAA Fisheries.

Relevant fisheries

Three federal fishery management plans and their associated EFH are applicable to projects and activities within Washington state:

  • Pacific coast ground fish fishery – 83 species
  • Coastal pelagic species fishery – market squid and four fin fishes (Pacific sardine, Pacific [chub] mackerel, northern anchovy, and jack mackerel)
  • Pacific coast salmon fishery – Chinook, coho, and Puget Sound pink salmon.

Examples of adverse effects

Adverse effects are physical, chemical, or biological alterations of the waters or substrate that may reduce the quality or quantity of EFH. Adverse effects include

  • Sound from pile driving
  • Turbidity or sediment delivery
  • Release of toxic materials
  • Loss of prey species and/or their habitat
  • Actions occurring outside of EFH

Additional references