About the Council

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (also known as the Council, Mid-Atlantic Council, or MAFMC) is one of eight regional fishery management councils in the United States. The other Councils are the North Pacific, Pacific, Western Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, New England, and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.

The regional fishery management councils recommend fishery management measures to the Secretary of Commerce through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The decisions made by the Councils are not final until they are approved or partially approved by the Secretary of Commerce through NMFS.

The Council develops recommendations for the management of 13 species of fish and shellfish. Several of these species are managed under multi-species fishery management plans because they are found in the same geographic region or have similar life histories.

Spiny dogfish and monkfish are managed jointly with the New England Fishery Management Council. Many of the Council’s managed fisheries are fished for in state waters or outside of the Mid-Atlantic region, so the Council works with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to coordinate management plans between federal and state waters.

The seven states that comprise the Council are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina (North Carolina is also on the South Atlantic Council). The Council also works with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to manage summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, and spiny dogfish.

The Council is made up of 21 voting representatives (20 from its seven states and one Federal member, i.e., National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northeast Regional Administrator). Seven represent the constituent states' fish and wildlife agencies, 13 are private citizens who are knowledgeable about recreational fishing, commercial fishing, or marine conservation. These 13 citizens are nominated by the governors of their respective states and are appointed to the Council by the Secretary of Commerce. There are also four non-voting members representing the ASMFC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Council develops fishery management plans and recommends management measures for the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the east coast of the United States (3-200 miles). State jurisdiction extends from the shoreline to three miles out. All the states involved in fisheries management have their own laws and fishing agencies to manage fisheries within three miles of their coasts.

The Council’s plans are coordinated with the ASMFC and adjacent Councils (NEFMC and SAFMC) to implement a compatible conservation management system within the EEZ as well as state waters. Federal regulations generally apply only in federal waters, but there are instances where they may also apply in state waters.