One purpose of the Council’s Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) designations is to serve as a tool that can be used by the Council, and, especially, by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when the agency engages in the EFH consultation process. The EFH consultation process is defined by federal regulations as a responsibility of NMFS (Title 50, Part 600, Subpart K) and is triggered when a Federal agency (including NOAA) proposes an activity that may adversely affect designated EFH. After reviewing the planned activity, NMFS may make EFH conservation recommendations to the Federal agency, and the agency must provide a written response. Permitting agencies are not required to comply with these recommendations, but in most cases adverse effects on EFH are mitigated or avoided as a result of NMFS consultations.

The Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office’s (GARFO) Habitat Conservation Division routinely shares EFH conservation recommendations with the Council (see recent letters below). In 2016, the Council asked GARFO staff to share information about certain types of projects earlier in the consultation process. The idea was to allow the Council time to potentially develop its own comments on major projects. This early engagement also allows GARFO and Council staff to share information and expertise. Project types of interest include energy projects, cable projects, sand mining, transportation, and port development. Coordination between NMFS and the Council on EFH consultation issues has continued to evolve since 2016. Since 2018, the Council has frequently interacted with GARFO on renewable energy development issues via the NMFS Wind Team. In August 2019, the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils and NMFS held a national workshop to discuss mechanisms for effective coordination around EFH consultations and non-fishing impacts. The workshop report shares lessons learned and possible next steps for improving coordination.

More information about GARFO’s habitat program can be found on its habitat conservation webpage.

American Littoral, Cumberland County, NJ - Feb. 2018
Woods Island Harbor, Biddeford, ME - Feb. 2018
Rutgers, Ocean County, NJ - Feb. 2018
Maryland Shore Line, Ocean City, MD - May, 2018
Norfolk Harbor, Hampton Roads, VA - June 2018
Norfolk Coastal, Norfolk, VA - June 2018
Scusset Beach, Sandwich, MA - Sept. 2018
Electric Boat South Yard Project, Groton, CT - Oct. 2018
Rockaway Reevaluation Study, New York - Oct. 2018
American Littoral, New Jersey - Nov. 2018
Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport, ME - Nov. 2018
New Haven Harbor, New Haven, CT - Feb. 2019
Walnut and Wildemere Beach, Milford, CT - Mar. 2019
Crescent Beach, Milford, CT - Mar. 2019
Schuylkill River, Philadelphia, PA - May 2019
Dewey Beach Enterprises, Sussex County, DE - May 2019
River Place Marina on the Nanticoke River, Sussex County, DE - June 2019
Vineyard Wind, Martha's Vineyard, MA - June 2019
Kennebec River, Bath, ME - Aug. 2019
New Jersey State Programmatic General Permit - Sep. 2019
Wolf Trap Dredge Placement, Chesapeake Bay, VA - Sept. 2019
Mispillion Inlet, Sussex County, DE - Oct. 2019
Atlantic Coast Project, Maryland - Nov. 2019
EPA IOSN Designation - Dec. 2019
Kennebunk River FNP USACE - Dec. 2019
Beach Haven Complex NJDOT - Jan. 2020
Schuykill River USDOT response - Feb. 2020
Schuykill River NMFS response - Mar. 2020
Barnagat Inlet Dredging USACOE - Mar. 2020
Jarrow Bragg Shoreline Project - Mar. 2020