Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976
Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 -- Public Law 94-265, approved April 13,
1976; 16 U.S.C. 1801-1882; 90 Stat. 331; as amended by numerous subsequent public laws listed
and identified in the U.S. Code.
Also known as Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, this law established a
200-mile fishery conservation zone, effective March 1, 1977, and established Regional Fishery
Management Councils comprised of Federal and State officials, including the Fish and Wildlife
Service. The concept of a fishery conservation zone was subsequently dropped by amendment
and the geographical area of coverage was changed to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with
the inner boundary being the seaward boundary of the coastal States.
The Act provides for management of fish and other species in the EEZ under plans drawn up
by the Regional Councils and reviewed and approved by the Secretary of Commerce. It provides
for regulation of foreign fishing in the management zone under GIFA's (governing international
fishing agreements) and vessel fishing permits. It also provides a mechanism for preemption of
State law by the Secretary of Commerce.
Section 107 of P.L. 101-627, the Fishery Conservation Amendments of 1990, approved
November 28, 1990, amended section 206 of the Act to incorporate and expand upon provisions
of the Driftnet Act. (For more information, see that entry.)
Title IX of Public Law 102-567, signed October 29, 1992 (102 Stat. 4270) amends the Act to
provide for the restoration of New England groundfish and includes the following provisions of
interest to the Service:
- Allows the Secretary of Commerce to reimburse a State for certain expenses incurred while
enforcing a groundfish management plan;
- Requires the Secretary of Commerce to establish the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Fisheries
Reinvestment Program in order to promote development of commercial fisheries and
underutilized fisheries in the northwest Atlantic Ocean; and
- Requires the New England Fishery Management Council to develop fishery management
plans for underutilized fisheries in the northwest Atlantic Ocean in order to prevent
overfishing of these species.
Major amendments to the Act were enacted on October 11, 1996. Those amendments, the
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (P.L. 104-297), more popularly
known as the Sustainable Fisheries Act made important changes in Federal efforts to conserve
marine fishery resources. Major provisions include:
- Requires national fishery conservation and mangement standards to: provide for the
sustained participation of fishery dependent communities and minimize economic impacts to
those communities and minimize bycatch and its mortality.
- Modifies operation of established Fishery Management Councils.
- Mandates that the Secretary of Commerce shall take actions to identify overfished species
and take action to rebuild those stocks.
- Mandates the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate guidelines for identification of
essential fish habitat by Fishery Management Councils. Other Federal agencies are required to
consult with the Secretary when actions they take impact designated essential fish habitat.
- Establishes a fishing capacity reduction program.
- Mandates research on fishery management/ conservation and the economics/social
characteristics of the fisheries. Also, mandates research on the incidental harvest of marine
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