Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (FCMA), managers are required to use the best scientific information available in the preparation of federal fishery management plans (National Standard 2 in the FCMA). However, the Act provides no further guidance as to how conformance to this standard should be determined. Because adherence to this standard has often been contentious, Congress has considered adding a definition for what constitutes best scientific information available in the reauthorization of the FCMA. This report examines both the current application and the controversy over the standard and concludes that a legislative definition would be too inflexible to accommodate regional differences and future advances in science and technology. Instead, the report recommends that NOAA Fisheries adopt procedural guidelines to ensure that the scientific information used in the development of fishery management plans is relevant and timely and is the product of processes characterized by inclusiveness, transparency and openness, timeliness, and peer review.
National Research Council. Improving the Use of the "Best Scientific Information Available" Standard in Fisheries Management. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
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