South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Special Management Zones

In 1983, the Council implemented a process to designate existing artificial reefs as Special Management Zones to “increase biological production and/or create fishing opportunities that would not otherwise exist.”

Designation of an area as a SMZ allows the Council to restrict fishing gear to prevent overexploitation of fishery resources, reduce potential user group conflicts, and maintain the intended socioeconomic benefits of the artificial reefs. Many of these areas have been established through cooperation with fishing organizations and local governments to promote conservation and positive fishing experiences.

Machinery lifts an artificial reef structure off of a barge.
Photo Credit: FWC – Keith Mille

Further, the South Atlantic Council has designated SMZs as Essential Fish Habitat – Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH-HAPC). A total of 87 SMZs have been designated off South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Use the interactive map below to explore the Council’s SMZs.

Visit for more details.