The Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (16 U.S.C. 5101-5109; Title VIII of Pub. L. 103-206, as amended) authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to provide financial assistance to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and to Atlantic coastal States (defined as The term "State" means Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the District of Columbia, or the Potomac River Fisheries Commission) to adopt and implement fishery management plans for coastal fisheries. If the Commission reports to the Secretary that it finds a State is not complying with an adopted plan, the Secretary may impose a moratorium on all fishing for the species in question within the offending State's waters until that State comes into compliance.
The aim of the law is set out in the Act's "Findings and Purpose" section:
The Congress finds the following:
- Coastal fishery resources that migrate, or are widely distributed, across the jurisdictional boundaries of two or more of the Atlantic States and of the Federal Government are of substantial commercial and recreational importance and economic benefit to the Atlantic coastal region and the Nation.
- Increased fishing pressure, environmental pollution, and the loss and alteration of habitat have reduced severely certain Atlantic coastal fishery resources.
- Because no single governmental entity has exclusive management authority for Atlantic coastal fishery resources, harvesting of such resources in frequently subject to disparate, inconsistent, and intermittent State and Federal regulation that has been detrimental to the conservation and sustainable use of such resources and to the interests of fishermen and the Nation as a whole.
- The responsibility for managing Atlantic coastal fisheries rests with the States, which carry out a cooperative program of fishery oversight and management through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to support such cooperative interstate management of coastal fishery resources.
- The failure by one or more Atlantic States to fully implement a coastal fishery management plan can affect the status of Atlantic coastal fisheries, and can discourage other States from fully implementing coastal fishery management plans.
- It is in the national interest to provide for more effective Atlantic State fishery resource conservation and management.
The purpose of this chapter is to support and encourage the development, implementation, and enforcement of effective interstate conservation and management of Atlantic coastal fishery resources."
- Buck, Eugene, 1995. Summaries of Major Laws Implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service. National Council for Science and the Environment.
- Burgess, James P., 2006. Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs). EPA.
- NOAA, 2001. Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act.
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Note: part of the first version of this article was drawn from material prepared for the Congressional Research Service by Eugene Buck.