Fisheries Management in Federal Waters

Many of Florida's important fisheries occur in both state and federal waters and are managed by both the FWC and federal agencies. 

Regional Fishery Management Councils

Eight regional fishery management councils were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act icon_external.pngto advise the NOAA Fisheries Service on federal fishery management issues. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Logo

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council icon_external.png manages fisheries in federal waters (beyond three nautical miles) off the Florida Atlantic coast to Key West and federal waters off North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council icon_external.png manages fisheries in federalGulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council logo waters (beyond nine nautical miles) off the Gulf coast of Florida and federal waters off of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. These Councils develop fishery management plans and submit recommended regulations to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce based on public comment and scientific data. Stock assessments, which are an in depth profile of a species' life history, biology and fisheries information are conducted by the SouthEast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) program. The SEDAR program is managed by the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regional fishery management councils in coordination with NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic and Gulf States marine fisheries commissions. 

Federal Agency Information

NOAA Fisheries Service icon_external.png is the federal agency that is responsible for the stewardship of the nation's living marine resources and their habitat. NOAA Fisheries Service also reviews regulations recommendations from the eight regional fishery management councils and decides whether or not to approve the regulations as an agency of the Department of Commerce.

NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office icon_external.png is the regulatory authority for fisheries management in federal waters off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

The Role of the FWC

The FWC manages fisheries in state waters, but has a strong interest in how fish are managed in federal waters and how that management affects Floridians. FWC staff serves on both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils and coordinates with the Councils to improve fisheries management. The Councils and the FWC often enact consistent regulations in state and federal waters, but sometimes use different approaches to meet management goals. The FWC also partners with the Councils and NOAA Fisheries to collect fishery data, conduct research, assess fish stocks and enforce regulations.

To learn more about federal fisheries management, visit the following links. 

Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions

Marine Fisheries Commissions were established to coordinate the conservation and management of coastal fisheries

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission icon_external.png - Member states include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission icon_external.png - Member states include Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.


FWC Facts:
It is common for closely related species such as bluegill (bream) and redear sunfish (shellcracker) to hybridize or spawn with each other.

Learn More at AskFWC