The National Sea Grant Law Center


  • Nimbleness of Federal Fisheries Decision-Making
  • In 2021, the National Sea Grant Law Center received funding from The Nature Conservancy to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis of the nimbleness of federal fisheries management decision-making. “Nimbleness” refers to the ability of fishery managers to implement management decisions in response to changing conditions in a timely manner. This analysis involved a review of the legal mechanisms and framework for governing federal fisheries management including the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, as well as a review of the timelines for recent Fishery Management Council actions.

  • Final Report

  • The results of the Law Center’s research revealed that NMFS and the regional Fishery Management Councils have multiple tools available to integrate more nimbleness in their decision-making. There does not appear to be any specific legal barrier within the MSA framework that constrains decision-making. The federal rulemaking process does not appear to excessively delay implementation of Council action. However, the Councils face scientific and cultural challenges in integrating emerging knowledge about the impacts of climate change on fisheries into existing stock assessment models and management frameworks.

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  • Webinar

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