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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. 

Eight regional fishery management councils were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to advise the NOAA Fisheries Service on federal fishery management issues. These Councils develop fishery management plans and submit recommended regulations to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce based on public comment and scientific data.   


South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Logo

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council 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.


Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council logo

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages fisheries in federal waters (beyond nine nautical miles) off the Gulf coast of Florida and federal waters off of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. 



NOAA Fisheries Service 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 is the regulatory authority for fisheries management in federal waters off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

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

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

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission - 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.


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 as well as the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries commissions 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.