| Impacts to essential fish habitat from non-fishing activities in Alaska : EFH 5 year review : 2010 through 2015 - :17256 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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Impacts to essential fish habitat from non-fishing activities in Alaska : EFH 5 year review : 2010 through 2015
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    "The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in United States (U.S.) federal waters. First passed in 1976, the MSA fosters long-term biological and economic sustainability of our nation's marine fisheries out to 200 nautical miles (nm) from shore. In 1996, the U.S. Congress added new habitat conservation provisions to assist the fishery management councils (FMCs) in the description and identification of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in fishery management plans (FMPs); including adverse impacts on such habitat, and in the consideration of actions to ensure the conservation and enhancement of such habitat. The MSA also requires federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on all actions or proposed actions that are permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect EFH. To specifically meet national standards, EFH descriptions and any conservation and management measures shall be based on the best scientific information available and allow for variations among, and contingencies in, fisheries, fishery resources, and catches. Previous iterations of this report Impacts to Essential Fish Habitat from Non-fishing Activities in Alaska addressed non-fishing activities requiring EFH consultations and activities that may adversely affect EFH and offered example conservation measures for a wide variety of non-fishing activities. In this recent update these activities are grouped into four broad environmental categories to which impacts usually occur: (1) wetlands and woodlands; (2) headwaters, streams, rivers, and lakes; (3) marine estuaries and nearshore zones; and (4) open water marine and offshore zones. Alaska extends over Arctic, subarctic, and temperate climate zones. Four recognized Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) exist in these climate zones (NMFS 2010, NOAA 2012). A total of seventeen coastal zones are identified within the nearshore and coastal zones (Piatt and Springer 2007), eight terrestrial ecoregions are defined above the high tide line to interior Alaska (Nowacki et al. 2001). Water, the most important EFH feature, moves through all of these ecoregions and habitat types. This 2016 report introduces an ecosystem-based approach to this key feature, and presents the current understanding of the existing ecosystem processes within these regions and habitats that support EFH attributes1 necessary for fish and invertebrate survival at different life stages. A new section also summaries our current understanding of climate change and ocean acidification; presents potential effects on marine EFH, discusses potential cumulative impacts in light of current projections, and includes recommendations for improving our understanding and monitoring of climate change. The exact reason why climate change maybe occurring is not fully understood. However, climate scientists, oceanographers, and fisheries biologists have identified significant change in our atmosphere, oceans, and regional weather patterns. An indicator in Alaska is the decline in the extent and duration of sea ice. Scientists at NMFS's Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) have suggested that changes to marine conditions have altered trophic dynamics and influenced the distribution and abundance of some commercial fish species in the Eastern Bering Sea (EBS). Furthermore, increasing sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) may have a similar influence on fisheries distribution and abundance. The NMFS Alaska Region Habitat Conservation Division offers this report to inform decision makers and the public on activities that may affect EFH and possible EFH Conservation Recommendations to conserve healthy fish stocks and their habitat"--Executive Summary. doi:10.7289/V5/TM-F/AKR-14 (http://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-F/AKR-14)]

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