Special Management Zones (SMZs)

Since 1983, the Council has allowed the designation of Special Management Zones (SMZs) as an incentive to create artificial reefs and fish attraction devices to increase the numbers of fish in an area and/or create fishing opportunities that would not otherwise exist. Anyone in possession of an Army Corps of Engineers permit to create an artificial reef, may request that the South Atlantic Council designate the area as an SMZ.

Designation of an area as a SMZ allows for fishing gear restrictions to prevent overexploitation of fishery resources. Such a designation promotes orderly use of the fishery resources on and around the artificial reefs, reduces potential user group conflicts, and maintains the intended socioeconomic benefits of the artificial reefs. Many of these areas have been established through cooperation with fishing organizations and local governments and serve as a means to promote localized conservation and positive fishing experiences.

Further, the South Atlantic Council has designated SMZs as Essential Fish Habitat – Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH-HAPC). A total of 51 SMZs have been designated off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

To download a copy of the existing SMZ boundaries and applicable restrictions, click here.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)contains all federal fishery related laws and can be accessed here.

(Photo Credit: FWC – Keith Mille)