Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (FCMA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) established: 

  • A fishery conservation zone between the territorial seas of the United States and 200 nautical miles offshore;
  • An exclusive U.S. fishery management authority over fish within the fishery conservation zone (excluding highly migratory species);
  • Regulations for foreign fishing within the fishery conservation zone through international fishery agreements, permits, and import prohibitions; and
  • National standards for fishery conservation and management and eight regional fishery management councils to apply those national standards in fishery management plans.

Congress enacted the 1996 amendments to the Act, known as the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) (P.L. 104-297), to address the substantially reduced fish stocks that declined as a result of direct and indirect habitat loss. The SFA requires that BOEM and other agencies consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service concerning actions that may adversely impact Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

In 2007, President Bush signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006. It mandates the use of annual catch limits and accountability measures to end overfishing, provides for fishery management by a limited access program, and calls for increased international cooperation.