5-Year Review of Essential Fish Habitat in the US Caribbean

By | News, Version 2017

MRAG Americas contributed to the development of an Environmental Impact Statement for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat Amendment to the Fishery Management Plans for the U.S. Caribbean in 2004. With this and other legal documents, in 2005 the CFMC completed the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH), minimize adverse effects of fishing, and identify actions to conserve and enhance EFH. The EFH regulation states that the Fishery Management Councils and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should periodically review the EFH provisions of FMPs and revise or amend those provisions as warranted, and a complete review of all EFH information should be conducted at least once every 5 years. The CFMC contracted MRAG Americas to conduct the first 5-year review, which was completed in 2011. Since then, a wealth of new information on EFH has been produced; updated EFH maps have been developed for the US Caribbean; Island Based Fishery Management Plans for Puerto Rico, St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix have been developed, with new species being considered for federal management; and the CFMC has proposed the development of a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP).

Once again, MRAG Americas has been selected to conduct the second EFH review for the CFMC, with the following objectives: (1) improve habitat association tables, by species and life stage for federally managed fish and invertebrate species; (2) update the current spatial depictions of EFH; and (3) contribute to the development of a web-based database and mapping application to improve access and ease of use of EFH information at various life stages for better informed stock assessments and fishery management and the development of island-based FEPs. Ultimately, this web-based tool would be accessible to the public and utilized as the framework for identifying and describing EFH. The review will provide the detailed information necessary for the development of the tool and addition to GIS map viewer, but will not develop the actual tool as a deliverable. The 5-year review will be conducted through the end of 2018, with Dr. Valle-Esquivel leading the work, and Dr. Zollett and expert consultant Dr. Garcia-Saez as team members.

Catch Share Indicators Symposium at AFS

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Members of the Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares Project ( will host a Symposium at this year’s Annual Fisheries Society conference in Atlantic City. The symposium, scheduled for Monday afternoon, August 20, will explore the design of the project and its approach to inform decision making. Presenters will draw on discipline-specific analyses, challenges and results, with specific attention to interdisciplinary stories and lessons learned from these fisheries and program design aspects that can be applied elsewhere.

MRAG Americas contracted by Caribbean Fisheries Management Council

By | News, Version 2017

MRAG Americas contracted by the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council to conduct required 5-Year Review of Essential Fish Habitat in the US Caribbean. MRAG will be working closely with Council staff to update, describe and identify and map essential fish habitat (EFH), which is critical for fisheries management to minimize adverse effects of fishing, and identify actions to conserve and enhance EFH.

MRAG Americas starting new project with NAFO

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MRAG Americas is starting a new project with the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) the RFMO responsible for ensuring the long term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources in the north west Atlantic. This work will result in a fully documented description of all methodologies being used for estimating tow catches by vessel skippers, NAFO compliance Observers, Scientific Observers and NAFO At-Sea Inspectors, together with the development of common best practices. We are very excited to be working with NAFO on this important project. We’ll be collaborating on this with our sister companies MRAG Ltd and MRAG Asia Pacific.

MSC re-assessment of Limited Entry Groundfish Trawl

By | News, Version 2017

MRAG Americas, Inc. is pleased to announce that a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) re-assessment of US West Coast Limited Entry Groundfish Trawl fishery has begun. The assessment, which includes the limited-entry and Makah tribal components, will evaluate the fishery for compliance with the MSC’s Standard for well managed and sustainable fisheries. The assessment will include 18 groundfish species, with a site visit taking place in Seattle from 9-11 May.

NOAA/NMFS Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) in effect

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Through the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), NOAA/NMFS have identified seafood species most “at-risk” for IUU fishing and fraud, and have developed an electronic traceability program to track these “priority” species from point of harvest to entry into U.S. commerce. The final rule became effective on January 9, 2017, with a compliance date of January 1, 2018 for most priority species.

More recently, NOAA/NMFS proposed a voluntary Commerce Trusted Trader Program (CTTP). The CTTP is intended to lessen the administrative burden of SIMP for companies willing to undergo third party traceability audits. Companies that are already certified for MSC Chain of Custody or similar certification may find these audits to be the simplest way to comply with the SIMP. MRAG Americas is ASI accredited and therefore qualified to provide CTTP auditing services. We are monitoring the progress of the proposed rule. Check back here for updates and/or contact us for more details on how we can help you.