SAFMC Habitat and Ecosystem ATLAS
The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) has worked closely with SAFMC staff to compile, mainatain, and distribute GIS data, imagery, and documents relevant to ecosystem management in their jurisdiction. Over the last few years, the Council has incoporated ArcGIS for Server to enhance their web mapping applications. The new SAFMC Habitat and Ecosystem Atlas is a comprehensive site designed to replicate the data and tools of the long standing Internet Map Server (IMS). The new Atlas will allow users to view a variety of map services supporting fishery management issues in one viewer:
The SAFMC Habitat and Ecosystem Viewer also includes options to view map services hosted by the NOAA Coastal Services Center:
Essential Fish Habitat
The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, identifying the contribution of habitat loss and degradation on fishery declines, amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act to create a program to protect “essential fish habitat.” The statute defined EFH as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.” The legislation authorized a regulatory program to provide detailed identification of such habitat and obligatory consultation regarding all fishery and non-fishery activities receiving federal funding, permitting, or authorization that could impact EFH. The Council has taken the first step with the approval of the Habitat Plan identifying and describing in detail EFH for species managed throughout the South Atlantic and with the approval of the Comprehensive Habitat Amendment amending all existing FMPs to include descriptions of EFH and EFH-habitat areas of particular concern (EFH-HAPCs).
EFH for the SAFMC jurisdictional area INCLUDES:
EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) that is particularly important to the long-term productivity of populations of one or more managed species, or particularly vulnerable to degradation, should be identified as "habitat areas of particular concern" (HAPC) to help provide additional focus for conservation efforts. As a result of the Sustainable Fisheries Act Amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1996 the Councils and the NMFS have been mandated to use an ecosystem approach in managing the Nation's Fisheries. The Council took the first step with the approval of the Habitat Plan identifying and describing in detail EFH for species managed throughout the South Atlantic and with the approval of the Comprehensive Habitat Amendment amending all existing FMPs to include descriptions of EFH and EFH-HAPCs. Due to their important ecological function, areas of the offshore pelagic environments discussed above and the associated benthic habitats represent EFH-HAPCs and were designated as such though previous Council actions.
Deepwater Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (Coral HAPCs)
Deepwater Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (Deepwater Coral HAPCs) have been designated off the coast of the southern Atlantic states in which the use of specified fishing gear and methods and the possession of coral is prohibited. Within the Deepwater Coral HAPCs, fishing zones have been established that allow continued fishing on the historical grounds for golden crab and deepwater shrimp. This designation protects what is thought to be the largest distribution of pristine deepwater coral ecosystems in the world.
Deepwater Coral HAPCs include:
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (SAFMC) role is to develop fishery management plans needed to manage fishery resources within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending from state waters (three miles in the south Atlantic) to 200 nautical miles. The 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) was passed by Congress to protect marine fish stocks with requirements to prevent and stop overfishing, minimize bycatch, and protect habitat. These layers geographically represents prohibitions on the use of various gear (to fish for and retain snapper grouper species) within the SAFMC EEZ.