SAFMC Fishery Ecosystem Plan Vol I

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FISHERY ECOSYSTEM PLANOF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC REGIONVOLUME I: INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEWApril 2009South Atlantic Fishery Management Council4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201Charleston, South Carolina 29405(843) 571-4366 / FAX (843) 769-4520Toll Free (866) SAFMC-10Email: [email protected] IS A PUBLICATION OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL PURSUANT TO National Oceanicand Atmospheric Administration Award No. FNA05NMF4410004

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMSABCAcceptable Biological CatchACCSPAtlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics ProgramACEAshepoo-Combahee-Edisto Basin National Estuarine Research ReserveAPAAdministrative Procedures ActAUVAutonomous Underwater VehicleBA measure of stock biomass either in weight or other appropriate unitBMSYThe stock biomass expected to exist under equilibrium conditions whenfishing at FMSYBOYThe stock biomass expected to exist under equilibrium conditions whenfishing at FOYBCURRThe current stock biomassCEACumulative Effects AnalysisCEQCouncil on Environmental QualityCFMCCaribbean Fishery Management CouncilCPUECatch per unit effortCRPCooperative Research ProgramCZMACoastal Zone Management ActDEISDraft Environmental Impact StatementEAEnvironmental AssessmentEBMEcosystem-Based ManagementEEZExclusive Economic ZoneEFHEssential Fish HabitatEFH-HAPC Essential Fish Habitat - Habitat Area of Particular ConcernEISEnvironmental Impact StatementEPAPEcosystem Principles Advisory PanelESAEndangered Species Act of 1973FA measure of the instantaneous rate of fishing mortalityF30%SPRFishing mortality that will produce a static SPR 30%.F45%SPRFishing mortality that will produce a static SPR 45%.FCURRThe current instantaneous rate of fishing mortalityFMPFishery Management PlanFMSYThe rate of fishing mortality expected to achieve MSY under equilibriumconditions and a corresponding biomass of BMSYFOYThe rate of fishing mortality expected to achieve OY under equilibriumconditions and a corresponding biomass of BOYFEISFinal Environmental Impact StatementFMUFishery Management UnitFONSIFinding Of No Significant ImpactGOOSGlobal Ocean Observing SystemGFMCGulf of Mexico Fishery Management CouncilIFQIndividual fishing quotaIMSInternet Mapping ServerIOOSIntegrated Ocean Observing SystemMNatural mortality rateMARMAPMarine Resources Monitoring Assessment and Prediction ProgramFishery Ecosystem Planof the South Atlantic RegioniiVolume I Overview

TACTMINUSCGUSCOPVMSMarine Fisheries InitiativeMigratory Bird Treaty ActMaximum Fishing Mortality ThresholdMarine Mammal Protection Act of 1973Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics SurveyMagnuson-Stevens ActMinimum Stock Size ThresholdMaximum Sustainable YieldNational Environmental Policy Act of 1969National Marine Fisheries ServiceNational Marine Sanctuary ActNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNational Research CouncilOptimum YieldPew Oceans CommissionRecruitmentRegulatory Flexibility ActRegulatory Impact ReviewStock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation ReportSouth Atlantic Fishery Management CouncilSoutheast Data, Assessment, and ReviewSoutheast Fisheries Science CenterSoutheast Regional OfficeSupplementary Discard Data ProgramSustainable Fisheries ActSocial Impact AssessmentScientific and Statistical CommitteeTotal allowable catchThe length of time in which a stock could rebuild to BMSY in the absenceof fishing mortalityU.S. Coast GuardU.S. Commission on Ocean PolicyVessel Monitoring SystemFishery Ecosystem Planof the South Atlantic RegioniiiVolume I Overview

Table of ContentsTable of Contents . ivIntroduction . 11.0Background Supporting Move to Ecosystem Based Management . 11.1 Habitat protection and ecosystem management responsibilities as defined in theMagnuson-Stevens Act . 61.2 Fishery Ecosystem Plan and Comprehensive Fishery Ecosystem PlanAmendment development process . 101.3 Ecosystem Management Goals . 132.0Overview of the South Atlantic Ecosystem . 142.1 Geographic Boundaries . 142.2 Climate and weather . 142.3 Habitat and Food Web. 152.4 Current Area-based Approaches to Managing Fisheries in the South Atlantic . 15List of Preparers . 28Appendix A. Monthly climatology of the continental shelf waters of the South AtlanticBightLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1. Jurisdictional boundaries of the South Atlantic Fishery ManagementCouncil.Fishery Ecosystem Planof the South Atlantic Region14ivVolume I Overview

Introduction1.0 Background Supporting Move to Ecosystem BasedManagementMoving to Ecosystem-Based ManagementDevelopment of a South Atlantic Council Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) provides asignificant opportunity to review biological, ecological, social, and economic informationfor fisheries in the South Atlantic ecosystem. The Council views habitat conservation asthe core of its move to ecosystem based management (EBM). The FEP significantlyexpands and updates the SAFMC Habitat Plan (SAFMC 1998) by providingcomprehensive details on all managed species (SAFMC, South Atlantic States, ASMFC,and NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species and Protected Species), including theirbiology, ecology, and food web dynamics and the economic and social characteristics ofthe fisheries. The FEP also updates the information for designating Essential FishHabitat (EFH) and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC). In addition, itsummarizes existing research programs and identifies biological, social, and economicresearch needed to fully address EBM in the region. The FEP will serve as a sourcedocument that will, over time, present more detailed information describing the SouthAtlantic ecosystem and the impact of the fisheries on the environment. As a livingdocument (primarily through expansions to Volume IV Threats and Recommendations),the FEP will provide a greater degree of guidance on incorporation of fishery, habitat, orecosystem considerations into management actions, such as bycatch reduction, preypredator interactions, maintenance of biodiversity, and identification of spatialmanagement needs.Evolving from a Habitat Network to an Ecosystem NetworkStarting with its Habitat and Environmental Protection Advisory Panel, the Councilfostered a network of stakeholders to develop the SAFMC Habitat Plan, which wascompleted in 1998 to support the EFH rule. The Council further expanded this networkto support development of the FEP and Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment(CE-BA) 1 and their coordination with other regional efforts. The Council has workedwith the Southeast Coastal Regional Ocean Observing Association (SECOORA) to guideidentification of priority needs for observation and modeling to support fisheriesoceanography and integration of the stock assessment process through the Southeast Dataand Assessment Review (SEDAR). The Council is a member of the Southeast AquaticResource Partnership (SARP), and its Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan (SARP 2008)provides watershed conservation restoration targets for the FEP and several habitat, waterquality, and water quantity conservation needs identified in the FEP are directlyaddressed on the ground by projects supported through SARP. These cooperative effortscontribute to fish habitat restoration and conservation efforts needed to increase theviability of fish populations and fishing opportunities, including efforts to protect and1Fishery Ecosystem Planof the South Atlantic RegionVolume I Overview

conserve EFH. Lastly, the Council has cooperated with South Atlantic states in theformation of a South Atlantic Governors‟ Alliance, which will provide additionalguidance and resources for efforts by the states and Council to achieve broad habitat andecosystem conservation goals.Building Tools to Support EBM in the South Atlantic RegionTo support EBM in the South Atlantic Region, the Council added a Habitat andEcosystem section to its emHome/tabid/435/Default.aspx and, incooperation with the Florida Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), developed a Habitat andEcosystem Internet Map Server .aspx. Many groups contributed to the IMS, including NOAAFisheries Service, state and local management authorities, universities, conservationorganizations, and recreational and commercial fishers. Further development ofecosystem information systems to support Council management should build on existingtools (e.g., Ecosystem IMS) and provide funding to the Council and other regionalcooperating partners to address long-term Council needs.Implementing EBMThe Council has implemented ecosystem-based principles through existing fisherymanagement actions including establishment of deepwater Marine Protected Areas forthe Snapper Grouper fishery, proactive harvest control rules on species not overfished(e.g., dolphin and wahoo), extensive gear/area closures that in most cases eliminate theimpact of fishing gear on EFH, and Special Management Zones. Through CE-BA 1, theCouncil is taking an ecosystem approach to protect deepwater ecosystems whileproviding for traditional fisheries for golden crab and royal red shrimp in areas wherethey do not impact deepwater coral habitat. The Council‟s stakeholder-based processtaps an extensive network of scientific, management, and fishery professionals within theregion, and the Council has invested significantly in tools to maintain this engagementover the long term.Ecosystem Approach to Deepwater Ecosystem ManagementThe Council manages coral, coral reefs, and live/hard bottom habitat, includingdeepwater corals, through the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs andLive/Hard Bottom Habitat of the South Atlantic Region (Coral FMP). Mechanisms existin the FMP, as amended, to further protect deepwater coral and live/hard bottom habitats.The Council‟s Habitat and Environmental Protection Advisory Panel and Coral AdvisoryPanel have supported proactive efforts to identify and protect deepwater coral ecosystemsin the South Atlantic region. Management actions proposed in CE-BA 1 include theestablishment of deepwater coral HAPCs (C-HAPCs) to protect over 23,000 square milesof habitat that is thought to be the largest continuous distribution of pristine deepwatercoral ecosystems in the world.Fishery Ecosystem Planof the South Atlantic Region2Volume I Overview

Scope of FEP DevelopmentWhile the FEP will support and guide EBM, most of the Council‟s implementation stepswill be through CE-BAs. This approach will build on the biological, economic, andsocial information presented in the FEP, and provide the Council with the opportunity toevaluate needed actions across multiple fisheries and facilitate development of FMPamendments or measures that apply across FMPs. The Council has proposed updatingthe FEP every five years.Future Challenges and Needed Resources to Fully Implement EBM in the RegionOne of the greatest challenges to the long-term move to EBM is funding high priorityresearch, including comprehensive benthic mapping, ecosystem modeling, andmanagement tool development. In addition, collecting detailed information on fishingfleet dynamics, including defining fishing operation areas by species, species complex,and season, as well as catch relative to habitat, is critical for assessment of fishery,community, and habitat impacts and for use of place-based management measures.Additional resources need to be dedicated to expand coordination of modeling, mapping,and characterizing habitat use and to fully fund regional fishery independent surveys(e.g., MARMAP and SEAMAP). One high-priority need is completion of the mappingof near-shore, mid-shelf, shelf edge, and deepwater habitats in the South Atlantic region.The combined FEP and CE-BA development process complements, but does not replace,existing FMPs. The FEP serves as an evolving source document that, in combinationwith the development of future CE-BAs, consider individual management needs as wellas needs across fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. It is anticipated that in thedevelopment of future FEPs, the Council will draw on Stock Assessment and FisheryEvaluation (SAFE) reports, which NMFS is required to provide the Council for all FMPsimplemented under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The FEP, serving as the sourcedocument for CE-BAs, could also meet NMFS SAFE requirements if information isprovided to the Council to update necessary sections.Guiding Principles and RecommendationsIn closing this section of the FEP, the Council notes the U.S. Commission on OceanPolicy and the Pew Oceans Commission describe EBM as a process that allows oceanand coastal resources to be managed to reflect the relationships among all ecosystemcomponents, including humans (USCOP 2004). Using the Commission‟s guidingprinciples for EBM, the Council notes the following efforts to implement thoseguidelines:Guiding principles for EBM Sustainability – the Council‟s goal is to conserve and manage South Atlantic fisheryresources. I