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Draft Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Essential Fish Habitat 5-Year Review
Thursday, March 5, 2015

What is it?

The purpose of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) 5-Year Review is to gather relevant new information and determine whether modifications to existing EFH descriptions and designations are warranted, in compliance with requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and implementing regulations. Atlantic HMS include tunas (bluefin, bigeye, albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack), oceanic sharks, swordfish, and billfishes (blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, roundscale spearfish, and longbill spearfish).

The Magnuson-Stevens Act includes provisions concerning the identification and conservation of EFH. EFH is defined as "those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity." The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must identify and describe EFH, minimize to the extent practicable the adverse effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of EFH. EFH maps are presented online in the NMFS EFH Mapper (http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/protection/efh/habitatmapper.html).

In addition to identifying and describing EFH for managed fish species, a review and revision of EFH must be completed every five years, and EFH provisions must be revised or amended, as warranted, based on available scientific information. The EFH 5-year review will evaluate published scientific literature, unpublished scientific reports, information solicited from interested parties, and previously unavailable or inaccessible data. NMFS announced the initiation of this review and solicited information for this review from the public on March 24, 2014 (79 FR 15959). The initial public review/submission period ended on May 23, 2014.

This document is the draft 5-year review of EFH for Atlantic HMS and considers data available regarding Atlantic HMS and their habitats that have become available since 2009. Upon completion of the HMS EFH 5-year Review, NMFS will analyze the information gathered through the EFH review process and determine if subsequent revision or amendment of EFH if warranted.

How do I comment?

NMFS requests comments on this document including the content, usefulness, and format. You may submit comments by the following method:
* Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to:
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0037, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments

The document can be downloaded at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/documents/draft_efh_5-year_review_030415.pdf

For more information please go to:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/news/breaking_news.html


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