Ecosystem-Based Management

The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem is a dynamic, diverse environment in the eastern North Pacific Ocean spanning nearly 3,000 km from southern British Columbia to Baja California, and includes the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, the coastal land-sea interface, and adjacent terrestrial watersheds. The California Current Ecosystem produces abundant ecosystem goods and services including fisheries, recreation, tourism, energy production, climate regulation, pollution control, and transportation. This highly productive ecosystem is fueled by cyclic upwellings of cold, nutrient-rich water. These episodes of productivity support small fishes like sardines, anchovies, and herring that serve as food for larger species such as migratory fishes, birds, and marine mammals that visit the California current every year.


NOAA Fisheries works with the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and western states and tribes, to bring more ecosystem science into fisheries management policies and decisions.  The Council uses its 2013 Fishery Ecosystem Plan as a framework to evaluate policy choices and tradeoffs that affect multiple species and fisheries within the California Current Ecosystem.

Since 2013, NOAA Fisheries has worked with its West Coast partners to protect unfished marine species by reviewing and restricting the types of fishing gear used in Federal waters.  We have also been working with our partners to develop strategies for protecting unfished forage fish, looking more closely at diet links between unfished forage fish species and our higher order predator species managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council


To improve living marine resource management, NOAA Fisheries is developing the scientific tools needed to implement ecosystem-based fisheries management. These integrated approaches to management evaluate the effects of the physical and chemical environment on biological communities and their habitats, the biological interactions between species, and human socio-economic connections to and dependence on the biophysical environment.  NOAA Fisheries is committed to better understanding how different types of human activities within the marine environment interact with and affect each other and the environment.  Our Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers are working with the West Coast Region to develop analyses that assess ecosystem status relative to management objectives and account for the ecosystem-level effects of management decisions.  The Science Center’s analysis framework is called the California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment.

Learn more at the
Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Public Notices:

May 4, 2016 Compliance Guide; Prohibition on Directed Fishing for Unfished Forage Fish. Effective May 4, 2016.
April 4, 2016 81 FR 19054: Final Rule; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1. Effective May 4, 2016
March 2, 2016 Final Environmental Assessment: Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1: Protecting Unfished and Unmanaged Forage Fish Species of the U.S. Portion of the California Current Ecosystem 2.9MB
January 5, 2016 81 FR 215: Proposed Rule; Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1. Public comment period closed (February 9, 2016)
December 11, 2015 80 FR 76924: Notice of availability of Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1. Public comment period closed (February 9, 2016).
December 23, 2014 79FR76914: Final Rule; NOAA Fisheries updates the list of authorized fisheries and gear off the West Coast, effective January 22, 2015
August 7, 2014 79FR46214: Proposed Rule; NOAA Fisheries proposes to update the list of authorized fisheries and gear (e.g. List of Fisheries) in the MSA. Public comment period closed (September 8, 2014).