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.
Table of Contents
|2 National Standard 2: From Origin to Application||17-40|
|3 Characterizing “Best Scientific Information Available”||41-50|
|4 Findings and Recommendations||51-62|
|Appendix A: Committee and Staff Biographies||67-72|
|Appendix B: Participants at the Workshop on Defining Best Available Science for Fisheries Management||73-74|
|Appendix C: Questionnaires Sent to Fishery Management Councils and Fisheries Science Centers||75-78|
|Appendix D: Regulations Supporting Fishery Management Plan Development and National Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act||79-82|
|Appendix E: Acronyms||83-84|
|Appendix F: Compilation of Science Center and Management Council Reports and Committees||85-94|
|Appendix G: Scientific Information in Fisheries Management: The Report of a Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education Fisheries Workshop||95-98|
|Appendix H: Recent Case Law Support for Guidelines on “Best Scientific Information Available”||99-106|
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