Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Program
Conserving America's Fisheries

Interjurisdictional Fisheries

American Shad. Photo: USFWS

American Shad


Fish Without Borders

Fishes in rivers, coastal areas, and even some lakes, move across state and national boundaries without a second thought or glance. Because many fish travel long distances, place-based management measures do not provide adequate protection. Yukon River Chinook salmon, for example, undertake the longest migration of any salmon in the world, swimming over 1700 miles.

Consequently, Tribal councils, interstate resource management commissions, regional management councils, States, Federal agencies and countries, agree to manage multijurisdictional species through regulations developed by the jurisdictions which contain portions of the species’ habitat. Cooperation of multijurisdictional resource management partners to effectively manage a fish species is called interjurisdictional fishery management.


Pallid Sturgeon. Photo: USFWS

Pallid Sturgeon


Interjurisdictional commissions have been formed voluntarily, by treaty, or by act of Congress to coordinate actions of multiple governments to manage and conserve these Interjurisdictional fisheries effectively.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices, on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, work cooperatively with these organizations to conserve, restore, and manage these interjurisdictional fish stocks and the habitat on which they depend. FWCOs bring a national perspective to these often regional organizations because we work across borders that traditionally other state and local organizations do not have jurisdiction.

The FWCO program has over 65 field offices, across 32 States, with over 300 biologists and other experts committed to cooperative restoration and management efforts. We support the efforts of many types of coastal, interior and Tribal fishery management authorities to help conserve and manage native, interjurisdictional aquatic species.

Coastal Interjurisdictional Fisheries

The participation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in coastal interjurisdictional fisheries management is primarily mandated by the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Anadromous Fish Conservation Act, the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act and the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act.

The Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires each Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be a non-voting member of one of the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. The purpose of these Regional Fishery Management Councils are to manage the fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone (generally extends from the coast to 200 miles offshore).

Striped Bass. Photo: USFWS

Striped Bass


The eight Regional Fishery Management Councils are the:

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office personnel also participate in coastal, interjurisdictional fishery management projects and activities by supporting the fishery management efforts of interstate and multijurisdictional fisheries commissions. Examples of these commissions are:

These commissions were established to facilitate the sustainability of interjurisdictional aquatic species.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office personnel support the fishery management efforts of regional fishery management councils and fisheries commissions by serving on planning review teams, technical committees, species management boards, and fishery policy boards as well as participating in unique or specialized regional management projects.

Coastal, interjurisdictional fishery management support by Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices have significantly contributed to the sustainability of aquatic species within and outside of U.S. borders.

These efforts also support the President’s Ocean Action Plan goal of enhancing the use and conservation of ocean and coastal and Great Lakes resources with the objective of achieving sustainable marine fisheries.

Inland Interjurisdictional Fisheries

Coming Soon!

Last updated: April 17, 2012