Institutional Elements

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is responsible for the conservation and management of fishery resources within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida south to Key West. The "institutional ecology" of the South Atlantic region, however, includes a myriad of agencies and institutions that affect the activities of the most influential constituents of the ecosystem, i.e. humans.

The adoption of an ecosystem approach to the management of fishery resources first requires that the institutional ecology of the system be identified and its effects characterized. Next, a strategic approach should be developed to offset substantial impacts to the ecosystem. This step can include the Council expanding partnerships and entering into agreements with other agencies and institutions to tackle ecosystem issues, such as increased research and monitoring to support long-term management. The South Atlantic Council currently maintains formal agreements with Gray's Reef (PDF) and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries.

Initial steps towards characterizing the institutional ecology of the South Atlantic ecosystem will be taken through the Council's development of its Fishery Ecosystem Plan.