The Changing Face of Marine Fisheries Regulations:
The goal of regulating marine fisheries is to prevent overfishing and maintain over time, abundant, self-sustaining fisheries, based on the best scientific information while remaining fair and equitable to recreational and commercial fishermen.
As marine fishes more often than not cross state boundaries, stewardship of the resource is maintained by multi-state commissions and regional fishery management councils. In our case, fish are managed in state waters by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and in federal waters by the New England Fishery Management Council. Each individual state contributes to the process by submitting data, providing technical and advisory support, and compiling feedback from the public. Ultimately, states are responsible to implement a collective management decision made through a larger commission or council.
To achieve this goal, an intensive process has been standardized to ensure that all stakeholders have input on the interpretation of the best available scientific data about a species. The process is multi-tiered and involves input from many people along the way. The final product is the implementation of a regulation at the state level to support a plan to address an identified issue for a particular species throughout its range.
The graphic above summarizes key steps in the process for the development or change in the regulation for a species through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
For more information about marine fisheries management, please visit the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s web page at http://www.asmfc.org/fisheries-science/fisheries-science-101.
Because of the process, marine regulations are often finalized after the start of the calendar year (which is why the Connecticut Fishing Guide is not ready for distribution on January 1).