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WORKSHOP BACKGROUND INFORMATION
This document contains references and excerpts related to the themes of this workshop. In no way
is this document meant to be comprehensive or to prioritize the existing body of work on these
topics.
I. Linkages between fisheries management, research, and seafloor mapping
1. Ellis, S., T. Noji, S. Snow-Carter, B. Todd, P. Valentine, and M. Tyrell. Gulf Of Maine Mapping
Initiative: A Framework For Regional Fisheries Research And Management, available at:
http://www.gulfofmaine.org/gommi/docs/GOMMI_GIS_Fisheries_Poster_FINAL_2.pdf
“Maps of the seafloor are important tools for fisheries research, allowing scientists to study:
linkages between species abundance, depth, and habitat; recovery of closed areas; distribution of
invasive species; and effects of fishing gear on bottom habitat. Benthic habitat maps help
managers visualize the distribution, diversity and extent of marine communities under their
jurisdiction. Maps can be used to guide many types of management decisions that can affect
fisheries, e.g., siting of closed fishing areas; aquaculture leases; oil and gas pipelines and
transport; fiber-optic cables; alternative energy projects; dredged material disposal; and sand and
gravel mining. Maps of seafloor topography and habitat can be used to:
 Improve fishing efficiency
 Minimize gear impact on seafloor
 Reduce by-catch
 Reduce gear loss
 Minimize closed areas (e.g., regulate small-scale aggregations of cold-water corals rather
than the entire area where they occur).”
2. Kostylev, V.E., B.J. Todd, O. Longva, and P.C. Valentine (2005). Characterization of benthic
habitat on northeastern Georges Bank, Canada. In: P.W. Barnes and J.P. Thomas (eds.), Benthic
habitats and the effects of fishing. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 41:141-152.
The complex topography of the Gulf of Maine, including shallow banks and deep basins, provide
essential spawning sites and habitat for critical life stages of commercial fish and shellfish
species. Because seafloor shape and geology are top factors in determining habitat type, seafloor
maps including information on topography, bathymetry, geology, and substrate classifications are
critical for delineating benthic habitats, designating EFH, assessing the impacts of habitat
disturbances, monitoring change, and delineating and evaluating fishery closure areas and other
spatial management measures.
3. Kvitek, R., P. Iampietro, E. Sandoval, M. Castleton, C. Bretz, T. Manouki, and A. Green (1999).
Final report: Early implementation of nearshore ecosystem database project. California State
University, Monterey Bay: CA.
While most subtidal species and resources can only be sampled directly using observational or
other large scale (>1:10,000) survey techniques, it is often unreasonable to apply this level of
effort to the entire coast….A major goal of habitat mapping, therefore, is to develop the ability to
predict the distribution and abundance of species and resources from those physical and biotic
parameters that can be remotely sampled” (p.5)….“Because many benthic habitats are defined by
their geology (along with depth, chemistry, associated biotic communities and other attributes),
geophysical techniques are critical in determining habitat type…Geophysical techniques that help
identify and define large-scale marine benthic features are valuable in appraising essential
habitats of marine benthic fish assemblages. Interpretations and verification of sidescan sonar,
swath bathymetry, backscatter imagery, and seismic reflection profiles with direct observation
and sampling of rock and biogenic fauna are critical in characterizing these habitats” (p. 11).
“Although habitat characterization pertaining to fish and fisheries is in its infancy, several
pioneering studies have been done along the continental margin of North America. Fisheries
habitat has been studied in the Gulf of Maine, over the Georges and Stellwagen Banks (Lough et
al., 1989, 1992, 1993; Valentine and Lough, 1991; Valentine and Schmuck, 1995), middle
Atlantic Bight (Auster et al., 1991), and other areas along the east coast of the US (Able et al.,
1987, 1995; Twichell and Able, 1993)….”
4. O’Connell, V., J. Feifetz, C. Brylinsky, H.G. Greene, K. Shotwell (2007). A review of habitatbased submersible surveys in the Gulf of Alaska and the role of habitat mapping in fisheries
management and research in Alaska. In Speaker Abstracts: Marine Habitat Mapping
Technology Workshop for Alaska, April 2-4, 2007, Anchorage, Alaska.
“Seafloor mapping [ ] is…being integrated with identification of habitat areas of particular
concern (HAPC), determining the effects of fishing on benthic habitats, and understanding basic
ecological processes as well as stock assessments.…. Information used to identify rocky habitat
include sidescan, multibeam (groundtruthed from the submersible), and commercial fishery
logbook data…By assessing fish densities in all rockfish habitats, as delineated by geophysical
surveys, a better indicator of stock condition is possible. Multibeam data also allows us to clearly
define boundaries of prime habitats, relevant to management decisions regarding marine reserves
or definition of management units. Multibeam and sidescan sonar surveys allow small scale,
detailed habitat maps to be constructed, which are important for understanding ecological
associations of benthos and fishes. However, these benthic habitat maps based on sidescan and
multibeam data require groundtruthing for validation of habitats.”
5. Copps, S.L., Yoklavich, M.M., Parkes, G., Wakefield, W.W., Bailey, A., Greene, H.G.,
Goldfinger, C., and Burns, R.W. (2007). Applying marine habitat data to fishery management on
the U.S. west coast: Initiating a policy-science feedback loop. In Todd, B.J., and Greene, H.G.
eds., Mapping the Seafloor for Habitat Characterization: Geological Association of Canada.
Special Paper 47, p. 451-462, available at:
http://www.activetectonics.coas.oregonstate.edu/main_pages/paper%20files/Ch7%20Copps.pdf.
6. Stoner, A. W. (2003). What constitutes essential nursery habitat for a marine species? A case
study of habitat form and function for queen conch. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. Vol. 257: 275–289.
“It is generally assumed that amount of suitable habitat is linked to production of demersal
species and that maps of bottom type will provide the information needed to conserve essential
habitats…..[however] critical habitats…are determined by the intersection of habitat features and
ecological processes that combine to yield high rates of recruitment and survivorship. While
maps of bottom type are a good beginning for habitat management, they can be traps without
good knowledge of ecological processes. A demersal species can occupy different substrata over
its geographic range, different life stages often depend upon different bottom types, and specific
locations can be more important than particular habitat forms. Habitat management must be
designed to conserve habitat function and not just form. [Discussion section discusses limitations
of benthic habitat classification and substrate maps for habitat management and stock recovery
and promotes conservation of structurally complex habitat types and habitat management based
not only on habitat type but also habitat function analyses].”
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7. Anderson, J.T., J. E. Simon, D. C. Gordon and P. C. Hurley (2003). Linking fisheries to benthic
habitats at multiple scales: Eastern Scotian Shelf Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). In
GeoHab 2003 Proceedings Conference Papers Online: http://www.ngu.no/geohab/GeoHabproceedings/pps/john_anderson.pps
8. Mayer, L. and L. Fonseca (2007). Multibeam echo sounding as a tool for fisheries habitat
studies. Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center, University of New
Hampshire. In Speaker Abstracts: Marine Habitat Mapping Technology Workshop for Alaska,
April 2-4, 2007, Anchorage, Alaska.
“Our ability to survey and depict the seafloor radically changed with the introduction of
multibeam echosounders and associated data processing techniques that can produce completecoverage, high-resolution maps of relatively large areas of the seafloor….the combination of
high spatial coverage along with great bathymetric detail has made multibeam echo-sounding a
useful tool for benthic habitat mapping. Like all acoustic systems, both the range (and thus
spatial coverage) and the resolution of multibeam echo-sounders scale with frequency, but
unfortunately in opposite directions with low-frequencies resulting in long ranges but low
resolution and high-frequencies resulting in high-resolution but short ranges. We are thus faced
with a fundamental trade-off between spatial coverage and desired resolution and compromises
must be sought that address the needs of a particular study….While the fundamental
measurement provided by multibeam echo-sounders (bathymetry) offers, in conjunction with
interactive visualization techniques, the possibility of spectacular depictions of the morphology
of the seafloor (at many scales), most multibeam echo-sounders also produce a time-series of
acoustic backscatter. Changes in acoustic backscatter can be very indicative of changes in
seafloor type…”
9. Mayer, L.A., J. E. Hughes Clarke and S. Dijkstra (1999). Multibeam Sonar: Potential
Applications for Fisheries Research. Journal of Shellfish Research, Vol. 17, No. 5, 1463-1467.
10. Wilson, J.B. Gilmour, G. Greene. Mapping fisheries habitats by enhanced multibeam acoustic
data in Alaska, available at http://www.thsoa.org/hy05/02_2.pdf:
“This paper illustrates how digital multibeam swath bathymetry and acoustic backscatter images
can be used to produce higher resolution for applications for developing marine benthic habitat
maps. These techniques may resolve unique bottom features such as structural geology, faulting,
columnar basalts, sedimentary bedrock, glacial erosion and other features that have been found
to be important types of bottom fish habitats”...“The technology described in this paper
contributes to the assessment of what habitat is “essential” and to the overall quantification of
the resources that support fisheries” (p.1).
11. Malik, M.A., L.A. Mayer. Investigation of Bottom Fishing Impacts on Benthic Structure using
Multibeam Sonar, Sidescan Sonar and Video. Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint
Hydrographic Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham NH. Available at
http://www.thsoa.org/hy05/04_4.pdf.
“Bottom fishing gear is known to alter benthic structure, however changes in the shape of the sea
floor are often too subtle to be detected by acoustic remote sensing. Nonetheless, long linear
features were observed during a recent high-resolution multibeam sonar survey of Jeffreys
Ledge, a prominent fishing ground in Gulf of Maine, located about 50 km from Portsmouth, NH.
These marks, which have a relief of only few centimeters, are presumed to be caused by bottom
dredging gear used in the area for scallop and clam fisheries…While clearly visible on the
sidescan sonar records, the bottom marks were not discernable in the video survey. The inability
3
to see the bottom marks with video…has important ramifications about appropriate
methodologies for quantifying gear impact. Recent developments in multibeam echo sounding
(MBES) offer the opportunity to broaden its use far beyond its traditional application of
collecting data in support of navigational safety, port operations and marine geophysics.
Foremost amongst these innovative applications is sea floor characterization, which has broad
application in locating and characterizing Essential Fish Habitats (EFH) (Mayer et al., 1999).
The ability of multibeam sonar to map the shape and structure of the sea floor in great detail
provides fisheries managers with essential information about the depth structure of EFH. With
additional information about the nature of the substrate (in some cases) and appropriate
groundtruth, the spatial distribution of sea floor characteristics can be inferred while covering
greater areas than possible with physical sampling methods.”
12. DeLong, A.K. and J.S. Collie (2004). Defining Essential Fish Habitat: A Model-Based
Approach. Rhode Island Sea Grant, Narragansett, RI. 4pp.
“In New England and other regions of the United States, the current EFH definitions are based
on the fish distributions observed in fishery-independent survey data. Fishery surveys are
carefully standardized such that catch-per-tow and tow location can be used as a spatial measure
of relative abundance. The mean of the survey catch data is calculated in pre-defined 10-minuteby-10- minute quadrants covering the species range. The quadrants with higher relative
abundance are taken to represent EFH. Maps are then created that portray the smallest regions
containing 50, 75, and 90 percent of the population (calculated as the sum of the quadrant
means). For most species, EFH currently is defined to include the geographic quadrants
associated with the 90th population percentile. As a result, most of the species range is defined
as EFH, and the “best of the best” habitat and habitat attributes that constitute EFH remain
unknown. This pamphlet describes a new method that we have developed to define EFH, and we
encourage its application as a plausible alternative to the present approach. New model-based
methods for defining EFH base species distributions on habitat characteristics, rather than simply
mapping historic patterns of survey catches…The maps based on the models are easier to
interpret and less disjoint than the current EFH maps.”
13. Fishing and Benthic Habitats 2002: Abstracts. Available at:
http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/bh2002/abstracts.html. Topics: Linking Fisheries and Supporting
Ecosystems to Benthic Habitat Character and Dynamics
14. Williams, A., R. Kloser, N. Bax, B. Barker and A. Butler. Interactions of fishing gears with
seabed habitats on the deep continental shelf and slope off SE Australia. CSIRO Marine
Research, Hobart. Available at: http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/bh2002/abstracts.html#HEIFETZ
“Benthic habitats of the deep continental shelf and slope (50 to 1500 m depth) off SE Australia
are being surveyed for the first time in response to the needs of regional, ecosystem-based,
marine management plans being developed under Australia’s Oceans Policy. We surveyed and
classified habitats at several sites, including some of the region’s prime fishing grounds, using a
toolkit that included multi-beam and single-beam acoustics, video cameras and physical
samplers….At a finer scale resolution (km to m), structural features of hard-ground habitats
attract several economically important fish species targeted by sectors of the local fishing fleet...
In this paper we present a first assessment of the vulnerability of these hard-grounds to physical
modification by fishing gears, with an emphasis on geological attributes of habitats: substratum
composition, geomorphology and patch size. We define habitat vulnerability as its resistance to
modification, its resilience, or capacity to recover once modification ceases, and the probability
of modification occurring.”
4
15. Grimes, C. B., M. Yoklavich, W. Wakefield, and H. G. Greene. Using lasers to investigate
deepwater habitats in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary off central
California.Available at: http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/bh2002/abstracts.html#HEIFETZ
Paper on use of laser line-scan imaging technology (LLS) to investigate benthic marine habitats.
“We determined the utility of LLS for determining the distribution and abundance of fish and
megafaunal invertebrates, and identifying habitats and species associations by comparing LLS
images with those acquired from side-scan sonar and a remotely-operated vehicle. We also
evaluated the ability of LLS to detect seafloor disturbance caused by fishing trawl gear...The
LLS system offers the advantage of imaging both the biogenic and abiotic components of
habitat, and depicts their spatial relationships with detail that currently is not possible using
acoustic imaging techniques such as side-scan and multibeam sonar. LLS imagery also provided
fine detail of low relief shelf geology such as sand waves and ripples; evaluating these features
in a broader context from a post-processed mosaic of the study area could help us understand
coastal physical processes that influence dynamic benthic habitats.”
II. Seafloor Mapping Information Sources
1. GeoHab: http://www.geohab.org/
“GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) was established in 2001 to bring
together scientists from around the world working on the development of new thematic maps
linking acoustic mapping and geological sampling to marine biology in a Geographical
Information System environment to underpin sustainable ocean management.”
2. Mapping the Seafloor for Habitat Characterization (2008). Edited by Brian J. Todd and H. Gary
Greene, Geological Association of Canada.
http://www.gac.ca/publications/view_pub.php?id=190
The coasts and oceans of the world are under increasing pressure from the effects of climate
change and from multiple human impacts such as population increase, industrial development,
fishing, and transportation. Maps of habitat – in it simplest sense, where plants and animals live
– are recognized as crucial knowledge that can be used for informed decision-making as we
adapt to changing coastal and oceanic environments, and as we manage our use of this space.
This volume is an outgrowth of papers and posters presented at GeoHab conferences since the
organization’s inception in 2001. GeoHab (Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping;
www.geohab.org) brings together scientists from around the world working on the development
of new thematic maps linking acoustic mapping and geological sampling to marine biology in a
Geographical Information System environment to underpin sustainable ocean management. The
thirty-five papers presented here cover a broad spectrum of habitat studies in the ocean.
Technologies are emerging that enable us to collect marine physical and biological data in
unprecedented quantities with unprecedented positional accuracy. These technologies are being
adapted to innovative mapping techniques that provide new views of seafloor habitat. At the
same time, the effort to classify these habitats is ongoing, with a number of classification
schemes developed. Mapping case studies from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans highlight the
breadth of mapping activity around the world. Insight gained through habitat mapping has
enabled national governments to enact more informed marine policy. The papers in this volume
represent the latest results in the field of marine benthic habitat mapping, characterization and
application. This volume is intended as a useful reference for mapping practitioners and as a
supplement to students of marine habitat mapping.
5
3. Mapping European Seabed Habitats (MESH): http://www.searchmesh.net/
Although this site is focused on mapping of European seabed specifically, it provides access to
vital tools including “an interactive mapping page, a catalogue of mapping studies, practical
guides, tool kits, data templates and technical reports. These items cover most aspects of seabed
habitat mapping from planning surveys, fieldwork standards, data handling, predictive
modelling, producing maps to how to communicate your results.” The site includes a Guide to
Marine Habitat Mapping.
“The MESH partnership draws together scientific and technical habitat-mapping skills, expertise
in data collation and its management, and proven practical experience in the use of seabedhabitat maps for environmental management within national regulatory frameworks. If you work
producing seabed habitats maps, use seabed maps in your work or just want to gain an overview
of the marine mapping process this website has something for you.”
4. International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) http://www.ices.dk; ICES
Cooperative Research Report on acoustic seabed classification (ICES CRR 286) available from
http://www.ices.dk/products/cooperative.asp)
5. Mapping Technology Review at http://seafloor.csumb.edu/taskforce/index.html
This document includes rationale for habitat mapping, detailed comparison of data acquisition
methods and costs (acoustical methods, electro-optical techniques, and groundtruthing).
Selected quotes:
Scale: “The established methods and acoustic mapping technologies in current use are capable of
creating highly detailed maps of 3D seafloor morphology and substrate type at sub-meter
resolutions over broad areas of habitat. Much of the biotically important detail in habitats,
however, can occur at the level of decimeters and centimeters. As a result, direct sampling and
video imagery are often necessary to augment the detail provided via acoustic remote sensing.
While the combination of these methods is capable of yielding highly detailed results, the
expense involved can be impractical due to the relatively slow data acquisition rates compared to
that required for remote sensing in terrestrial habitats.”
“The most commonly applied remote sensing methods for benthic habitats involve acoustical
techniques that use sound sources of different frequencies to produce images of surface and
subsurface features of the seafloor. Reflected sound waves are recorded as seafloor images in
plane, aerial and cross-section views. Additionally, increased availability and use of underwater
video systems on remotely operated vehicles (ROV's), submersibles, and camera sleds have
made fine-grained remote sensing surveys of habitats and associated biological assemblages
more commonplace, thereby expanding our understanding of the processes that help define these
communities and the spatial scale at which these processes operate (Greene et al. in press)” (p.
11)
6. Wilson, J.B. Gilmour, G. Greene. Mapping fisheries habitats by enhanced multibeam acoustic
data in Alaska, available at http://www.thsoa.org/hy05/02_2.pdf:
“There are several benefits to conducting benthic habitat surveys using multibeam echo sounder
technology. Principle values include complete ensonification of the seafloor and acoustic
backscatter information that is co-registered with the depth values. This leads to data products
that give especially useful depiction of seafloor habitats. Further, the seafloor features are more
6
accurately positioned than is possible using a towed sensor. From an operational point of view,
the surveys can be conducted at higher speeds than with a side scan sonar towed at depth” (p.23) “With the high resolution of the acoustic image, details of the rocky reefs and sedimentary
seafloor are clearly seen. These images illustrate a pronounced difference in the habitat
roughness, or rugosity, which is a key parameter for distribution of different fish species.” (See
Benthic Habitat Mapping Figure, pg. 9, Fig. 9).
“The net benefits of multibeam echo sounding with backscatter when these technology
enhancements are implemented include:
 Improved signal-to-noise ratio compared to side scan sonar
 No water column noise
 Precise co-registration of imagery with bathymetry
 Allows mosaicking of data at increased resolution
 Increased accuracies and efficiencies” (p.11)
7. Kågesten, G. (2008). Geological seafloor mapping with backscatter data from a multibeam echo
sounder. Department of Earth Sciences, Geotryckeriet, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 2008
http://www.w-program.nu/filer/exjobb/Gustav_Kagesten.pdf
This thesis examines methods for using the amplitude strength of returning sound signals
(backscatter) from a multibeam echo sounder, in order to extract information about seabed
sediments. It provides an introduction to single- and multibeam echo sounders and covers
methods of processing backscatter data in order to represent the reflectivity properties of the
seafloor.
III. Managing Gulf of Maine & U.S. Fish Habitat
Essential Fish Habitat
1. Wilson, J.B. Gilmour, G. Greene. Mapping Fisheries Habitats By Enhanced Multibeam Acoustic
Data In Alaska, available at: http://www.thsoa.org/hy05/02_2.pdf
“Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is a term introduced in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (FMCA) in the 1990s to promote
understanding of the impacts of activities affecting the spawning and nurturing areas of offshore,
anadromous and estuarine managed species. With resources being over-fished, it was apparent
that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) could not rebuild the fisheries only by
controlling harvest, but needed to influence activities that impacted recruitment” [p.1].
2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Protected Habitat, Habitat
Protection Division. EFH Statute & Regulations. Available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/stat_reg_index.htm
“In 1996, Congress made significant revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act and refined the
focus of fisheries management by emphasizing the need to protect fish habitat. Specifically, the
Act required that fishery management plans identify as essential fish habitat (EFH) those areas
that are necessary to fish for their basic life functions. EFH is defined as “...those waters and
substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.” “The
Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and
regional fishery management councils to minimize, to the extent practicable, adverse effects to
7
EFH caused by fishing activities. The Act also requires federal agencies to consult with NOAA
Fisheries about actions that could damage EFH.”
3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Habitat Conservation. Essential Fish
Habitat Fact sheet. June 2007. Available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/pdf/efh/factsheets/EFH_factsheet.pdf
“The eight regional fishery management councils and the NMFS Highly Migratory Species
Division are responsible for drafting fishery management plans and describing and identifying
EFH for each life stage of each managed species. EFH descriptions are based on the best available
science, are developed through a public process, and are available on the EFH website.
Identifying an area as EFH does not make it a marine protected area or indicate what kind of
activities will be allowed or excluded from that area. The intent of the EFH provisions is to
highlight the importance of habitat for fisheries. EFH management measures are handled
separately from the process of describing and identifying EFH” [p.2].
“The requirement for the Councils and NMFS to minimize adverse impacts from fishing applies
only to fishing activities occurring in federal waters that are regulated under a federal fishery
management plan.” [p.2]….“All fishery management plans have measures in place, such as area
closures, gear restrictions, and harvest limits that control fishing activities and provide benefits to
EFH” [p.3]. “Once EFH has been described and identified, Congress mandated in the MSA that
federal agencies consult with NMFS on activities that may adversely affect fish habitat. Through
the EFH consultation process, NMFS provides recommendations to federal agencies to avoid,
minimize, mitigate, or otherwise offset the effects of their actions on EFH.” [p.4].
4. MacDuffee, D. and M. Nammack (2007). Essential fish habitat and critical habitat: a
comparison. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries
Service. Available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/pdf/efh/factsheets/EFH_CH_Handout_Final_
3107.pdf
“In 2002, NMFS began to require that [Fishery Management Plans] also contain maps of EFH.
NMFS has made many of the EFH descriptions and maps available via the Web at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/index.htm” [p.2].
5. Link to NEFMC EFH and HAPC data, maps, and designation information:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/GIS_inven.htm &
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/index_GIS.htm
6. EFH & Fisheries Management Regulatory Guidelines, EFH Text Descriptions and GIS Data,
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs), EFH Environmental Impact Statements, Effects of
Fishing on Habitat – Scientific Publications available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/fish_manage_index.htm
HAPC
1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Protected Habitat, Habitat
Protection Division. Essential fish habitat. Available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/efh/index.htm
8
“Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs) are a subset of EFH that deserve special attention
because they provide extremely important ecological functions and/or are especially vulnerable
to degradation. For instance, HAPC designation may be warranted for areas that play a vital role
in the reproductive cycle of a managed species (e.g., grouper spawning sites) or areas that contain
a rare habitat type (e.g., corals) that may be sensitive to disturbance from fishing or other human
activities. Councils may designate an area as a HAPC for one or more of the following reasons:
the habitat provides important ecological functions; the habitat is sensitive to human-induced
environmental degradation; development activities are, or will be, stressing the habitat; the
habitat type is rare. The purpose of HAPCs is to focus conservation, management, and research
efforts on subsets of EFH that are vulnerable to degradation or are especially important
ecologically for federally managed fish. The HAPC designation alone does not confer additional
protection or restrictions to an area, but helps to focus EFH conservation, management, and
research priorities…The NMFS Highly Migratory Species Division and each Council have
designated HAPCs for some of their managed species. Councils have designated HAPCs as
discrete geographic areas or as all areas of a specific habitat type (e.g., seagrass).” [p. 2]
Critical Habitat
1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Habitat Conservation. Essential Fish
Habitat Fact sheet. June 2007. Available at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/pdf/efh/factsheets/EFH_factsheet.pdf
“Critical habitat (CH) is designated for the survival and recovery of species listed as threatened or
endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Critical habitat includes those areas occupied
by the species, in which are found physical and biological features that are essential to the
conservation of an ESA listed species and which may require special management considerations or
protection. Critical habitat may also include unoccupied habitat if the Secretary determines that the
unoccupied habitat is essential for the conservation of the species. Critical habitat descriptions and
maps can be viewed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/habitat.htm. Whenever Federal
agencies authorize, fund, or carry out actions that may adversely modify or destroy critical habitat,
they must consult with NMFS under Section 7 of the ESA. If NMFS determines the action is likely
to adversely modify or destroy CH, NMFS will develop reasonable and prudent alternatives in
cooperation with the Federal agency to ensure the purpose of the proposed action can be achieved
without adversely modifying or destroying critical habitat. Table comparing EFH & CH regulations
and regulatory impact on p. 4]
Fisheries Closure Areas
1. Murawski, S.A., R. Brown, H.-L. Lai, P.J. Rago and L. Hendrickson (2000). Large scale closed
areas as a fishery management tool in temperate marine systems: The Georges Bank Experiment.
Bulletin of Marine Science, 66: 775-798.
“The sea floor off New England is considered one of the nation’s richest fishing grounds. The
decline of fisheries in the last few decades in this region is alarming and has led to a number of
scientific studies aimed at identifying the causes and remedies of the declining fisheries. Several
management measures have been implemented to preserve the integrity of fishing grounds
including spatial and temporal closure of areas, which are considered essential fish habitat for
spawning and stock recovery.”
2. Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area Symposium 2007
http://www.northeastconsortium.org/docs/2007/WGOMCA_2007_symposium.pdf
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IV. Geographic Seafloor Mapping Priorities in the Gulf of Maine
1) Summary of GOMMI Planning Workshop 2006-2008 & User Needs Survey
“This report presents the results and analysis of the Seafloor Mapping Needs Assessment Survey
and the Gulf of Maine Mapping Initiative (GOMMI) Workshop that took place in Maine in
October 2004….This report documents what resource managers, scientists, fishermen, and other
potential map users said about the kinds of maps they need, the locations of priority mapping
areas in the Gulf of Maine, ways in which maps could be used, and how they could contribute to
the GOMMI effort.”
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