Frequently Used Acronyms

Back to Education & FAQs back

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)

A scientific calculation of the sustainable harvest level for a species or species group. It is used to set the upper limit on the range of potential annual total allowable catch (TAC).

Advisory Panel (AP)

Advisory panels are made up of recreational and commercial fishermen, charter boat operators, buyers, sellers and consumers who are knowledgeable about a particular fishery.

Biomass (B)

1. The total weight of a group of living organisms (e.g. fish) or of some defined fraction of it (e.g. spawners) in an area, at a particular time;

2. Measure of the quantity, usually by weight in pounds or metric tons of a stock at a given time.

Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD)

Devices that are installed in trawl nets to reduce the take of incidental catch. Two types are the Gulf fisheye BRD and the Modified Jones Davis BRD.

Biological Reference Point (BRP)

1. A biological benchmark against which the abundance of the stock or the fishing mortality rate can be measured in order to determine its status. These reference points can be used as limits or targets, depending on their intended usage;

2. Specific values for the variables tat describe the state of a fishery system, which are used to evaluate its status. Reference points are most often specified in terms of fishing mortality rate and/or spawning stock biomass. These may indicate (a) a desired state of the fishery, such as a fishing mortality rate that will achieve a high level of sustainable yield, or (b) a state of the fishery that should be avoided, such as a high fishing mortality rate which risks a stock collapse and long-term loss of potential yield. The former are referred to as “target reference points,” and the latter are referred to as “limit reference points” or “thresholds.”

Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE)

The number of fish caught by an amount of effort. Typically, effort is a combination of gear type, gear size, and length of time gear is used. Catch per unit of effort is often used as a measurement of relative abundance for a particular fish.

Department of Commerce (DOC)

The Department of Commerce has a broad mandate to advance economic growth, jobs and opportunities for the American people. It has crosscutting responsibilities in the areas of trade, technology, entrepreneurship, economic development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Federal management authority for the marine fisheries is vested in the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce. The National Marine Fisheries Service works in conjunction with eight Fishery Management Councils.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

The area that extends from the seaward boundaries of the coastal states (3 miles off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and 9 miles off Texas and Florida) to 200 miles off the U.S. coast. Within this area the United States claims and exercises sovereign rights and exclusive fishery management authority over all fish and all continental shelf fishery resources.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH)

Congress defined EFH as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity”. The EFH guidelines under 50 CFR 600.10 further interpret the definition as follows: Waters include aquatic areas and their associated physical, chemical, and biological properties that are used by fish and may include aquatic areas historically used by fish where appropriate; substrate includes sediment, hard bottom, structures underlying the waters, and associated biological communities; necessary means the habitat required to support a sustainable fishery and the managed species’ contribution to a healthy ecosystem; and “spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity” covers a species’ full life cycle.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

As part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, an EIS is an analysis of the expected impacts resulting from a proposed Federal action (such as a fishery management plan) on the environment. An EIS is required for all fishery management plans as well as significant amendments that the proposed Federal action gives appropriate consideration to environmental values in order to prevent harm to the environment.

Fishing Mortality Rate (F)

1. F stands for the fishing mortality rate in a particular stock. It is roughly the proportion of the fishable stock that is caught in a year;

2. A measurement of the rate of removal from a population by fishing. Fishing mortality can be reported as either annual or instantaneous. Annual mortality is the percentage of fish dying in one year. Instantaneous mortality is that percentage of fish dying at any one time.

Fishery Management Plan (FMP)

A plan to achieve specified management goals for a fishery. It includes data, analyses, and management measures for a fishery.

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC)

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission was established by an act of Congress (P.L. 81-66) in 1949 as a compact of the five Gulf States. Its charge is: "to promote better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the seaboard of the Gulf of Mexico, by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries and the prevention of the physical waste of the fisheries from any cause."

Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC)

Subsets of essential fish habitat that serve as important ecological function, are particularly sensitive to human-induced environmental degradation, are particularly stressed by human development activities, or comprise a rare habitat type.

Highly Migratory Species (HMS)

Marine species whose life cycle includes lengthy migrations, usually through the exclusive economic zones of two or more countries, as well as into international waters. This term usually is used to denote tuna and tuna-like species, sharks, swordfish, and billfish.

Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ)

A type of limited entry, an allocation to an individual (a person or a legal entity, e.g. a vessel owner or company) of a right [privilege] to harvest a certain amount of fish in a certain period of time. It is also often expressed as an individual share of an aggregate quota, or total allowable catch (TAC).

Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ)

A type of individual fishing quota (IFQ) allocated to individual fishermen or vessel owners that can be transferred (sold or leased) to others.

Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP)

A panel of principal law enforcement officers from each of the Gulf States, as well as from NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s General Counsel for law enforcement. The LEAP advised the Council on law enforcement issues related to fishery management plans and plan amendments.

Maximum Economic Yield (MEY)

The total amount of profit that could be earned from a fishery if an individual owned it. An open-entry policy usually results in participation by so many fishermen that profits higher than opportunity cost (economic rent) are driven to zero.

Maximum Fishing Mortality Threshold (MFMT)

One of the status determination criteria for determining if overfishing is occurring. It will usually be equivalent to the fishing mortality corresponding to the maximum sustainable yield control rule. If current fishing mortality rates are above fishing mortality thresholds, overfishing is occurring.

Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Geographic area with discrete boundaries that has been designated to enhance the conservation of marine resources. This includes MPA-wide restrictions on some activities, such as oil and gas mining, and the use of zones, such as fishery and ecological reserves to provide higher levels of protection.

Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey (MRFSS)

An annual national survey conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, in cooperation with the coastal states, to estimate the number, catch, and effort of recreational fishermen. It serves as a basis for many parts of fisheries management plans.

Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)

Federal legislation responsible for establishing the fishery management councils and the mandatory and discretionary guidelines for Federal fishery management plans.

Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST)

Another of the status determination criteria. The greater of (a) ½ BMSY or (b) the minimum stock size at which rebuilding to BMSY will occur within 10 years of fishing at maximum fishing mortality threshold.

Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY)

The largest average catch or yield that can continuously be taken from a stock under existing environmental conditions. For species with fluctuating recruitment, the maximum might be obtained by taking fewer fish in some years than in others. Also called: maximum equilibrium catch; maximum sustained yield; sustainable catch.

Optimum Yield (OY)

1. The harvest level for a species that achieves the greatest overall benefits, including economic, social, and biological considerations. Optimum yield (OY) is different from maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in that MSY considers only the biology of the species;

2. The amount of fish that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems, MSY constitutes a “ceiling” for OY. Optimum yield may be lower than MSY, depending on relevant economic, social, or ecological factors. In the case of an overfished fishery, OY should provide for the rebuilding of the stock to BMSY.

Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)

The part of a federal fishery management plan that describes impacts resulting from the plan, and is required by the National Marine Fisheries Service for all regulatory actions of public interest. The RIR is the basis for determining whether any proposed regulations are a “significant regulatory action” under certain criteria provided in Executive Order 12866 and whether the proposed regulations will have a “significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities” in compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Stock Assessment Panel (SAP)

A panel that assess the available biological data and advise the Council on the status of stocks and level of allowable biological catch. It is made up of a group of scientists, skilled in the study of fish population dynamics that generally come from universities and state and federal fisheries agencies.

Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR)

A three-step process for conducting stock assessments. It consists of a Data Workshop to compile available data, a stock assessment workshop to prepare the actual assessment, and an Assessment Review Workshop to provide an independent review of the assessment, conduct additional analyses if necessary, and make recommendations regarding the status of stock and acceptable biological catch levels.

Socioeconomic Panel (SEP)

Made up of sociologists and economists who review the findings of the Stock Assessment Panels, and advise the Council of the social and economic impacts of setting total allowable catches at the various levels recommended by the Stock Assessment Panels.

Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA)

A statute enacted in 1996, which amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Among its provisions were mandatory overfishing elimination and stock rebuilding, the establishment of a program to protect essential fish habitat, and the establishment of a new national standard for bycatch reduction.

Spawning Potential Ration (SPR)

The number of eggs that could be produced by an average recruit in a fished stock, divided by the number of eggs that could be produced by an average recruit in an in fished stock. SPR can also be expressed as the spawning stock biomass per recruit of a fished stock, divided by the spawning stock biomass per recruit of the stock before it was fished.

Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB)

1. The total weight of all fish (both male and female) in the population that contribute to reproduction. Often conventionally defined as the biomass of all individuals beyond “age at first maturity” or “size at first maturity,” i.e., beyond the age or size class in which 50 percent of the individuals are mature;

2. The total biomass of fish of reproductive age during the breeding season of a stock.

Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC)

An advisory committee of a regional fishery management council composed of scientists, economists, and other technical experts. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each council maintain an SSC to assist in gathering and analyzing statistical, biological, ecological, economic, social, and other scientific information that is relevant to the management of fisheries.

Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

The annual recommended or specified regulated catch for a species or species group. The regional fishery management council sets the TAC from the range of acceptable biological catch (ABC).

Turtle Excluder Device (TED)

A gear modification used on shrimp trawls that enables incidentally caught sea turtles to escape from the nets.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)

A satellite communications system used to monitor fishing activities – for example, to ensure that vessels stay out of prohibited areas. The system is based on electronic devices, which are installed onboard vessels. These devices automatically send data to a shore-based “satellite” monitoring system.

Virtual Population Analysis (VPA)

A retrospective analysis of the catches from a given year class which provides estimates of fishing mortality and stock size at each age over its life of the fishery. This technique is used extensively in fishery assessments.