From deepwater canyons off the Carolinas to the shallow tropical waters surrounding the Florida Keys, marine habitats of the South Atlantic are as diverse as the species that inhabit them. To address this diversity, the South Atlantic Council is adopting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management with the development of a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) and Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment (CE-BA) that will amend all the Council's Fishery Management Plans. The FEP will be updated periodically and serve as a source document for the initial and subsequent CE-BAs.
The Fishery Ecosystem Plan
The Fishery Ecosystem Plan evolved from the Council's Essential Habitat Plan and involved a more thorough characterization of the South Atlantic Ecosystem. This effort aims at providing the Council with a foundation from which to attain a more comprehensive understanding of habitat and biology of species, fishery information, social and economic impacts of management and ecological consequences of conservation and management. The Fishery Ecosystem Plan is comprised of six volumes:
Volume I - Overview of the South Atlantic Ecosystem - Contains background supporting move to ecosystem-based management, relates the
development process of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan and Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendments, and provides an overview of the South Atlantic ecosystem.
Volume II - South Atlantic Habitats and Species -- Contains detailed descriptions of the many habitats that comprise the South Atlantic ecosystem and their role as Essential Fish Habitat for various managed species. Also inlcuded are descriptions of the managed species themselves, those under management by the Council and those that are managed by other agencies, including protected species. Finally, summaries of the South Atlantic states' Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategies are provided.
Volume III - Human and Institutional Environment - Provides detailed descriptions of coastal communities within each of the South Atlantic states and of the SAFMC-managed fisheries as well as those managed by other agencies in the region.
Volume IV - Threats to the South Atlantic Ecosystem and Recommendations -- Includes information on non-fishing threat and those related to fishing activities. Descriptions of Essential Fish Habitat for managed species and designated Habitat Areas of Particular Concern are also inlcuded. Finally, conservation recommendations are provided to promote conservation and minimize impacts.
Volume V - Research and Data Needs -- Provides a synopsis of ongoing research programs in the region and outlines additional information needs to fully attain an ecosystem-based approach to management.
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