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Why should we be excited about the 20th anniversary of Essential Fish Habitat?

We asked, NOAA experts answered. All interviewees have worked for NOAA Fisheries on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) provisions, which became part of the nation’s main law for marine fisheries in 1996.

“Habitat was put in the spotlight when EFH became a part of Magnuson. That’s helped emphasize it and made EFH more prominent, not only to the scientific community, but also to the public.”

Lawrence Rozas
Southeast Fisheries Science Center Ecologist
Lafayette, Louisiana

“If you went back 20 years, federal action agencies looked at EFH requirements as a conflict or hurdle. As time has gone along, they’ve realized that if they meet with NOAA Fisheries early to collaborate, we can help them improve the environmental outcome while often saving them time and money. In the end they get a better project."

Gerry Davis
Pacific Islands Regional Office
Assistant Regional Administrator for Habitat Conservation
Honolulu, Hawaii

“When I first came to the Council, the focus on habitat wasn’t there. Since then, the Council has increased its habitat portfolio, and now I see more and more people are interested in fisheries habitat and what it means for fisheries productivity. We’re linking habitat to ecosystem-based fishery management. That’s all kind of coalescing now: 20 years after the creation of EFH. "

Chris Moore
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Executive Director
Dover, Delaware

“It’s good to take stock of things. The 20th anniversary is a chronological reason to stop and take a look at where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and think about the future. It’s great to celebrate and have the opportunity to inform people about our habitat conservation work.” 

Waldo Wakefield
Northwest Fisheries Science Center Biologist
Newport, Oregon

“It’s a great thing. We should take advantage of the 20th anniversary to raise awareness about the importance of habitat and the role it plays in the life of various species that we manage and protect.”

Jane Hannuksela
Northwest Office of General Counsel Attorney
Seattle, Washington

“Mandating a consideration of habitat is important, because many fish species depend on particular habitats, and if we want to continue to gather food from the ocean, we have to have a sustainable fishery which depends upon healthy habitats.”

Mike Sigler
Alaska Fisheries Science Center Ecologist
Juneau, Alaska


 “Because it's establishing a good foundation to broaden and truly implement ecosystem-based fishery management. The Councils are making strides with their ecosystem management plans. Progress is being made, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and its EFH authorities have had a role in helping move that along.”

Bryant Chesney

West Coast Regional Office Habitat Specialist
Long Beach, California

“In the very beginning, there were people saying that EFH was going to be the sand in everybody’s knickers. That proved to be unfounded. The EFH authorities survived and matured, and highlight the importance of habitat as part of ecosystems.”

Tom Bigford

American Fisheries Society Policy Director
Bethesda, Maryland
(Formerly with NOAA)


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Learn more about Essential Fish Habitat and its 20th anniversary.