Marine Fisheries Habitat Assessment Improvement Plan

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National
Country or countries covered United States
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has a mandated responsibility to sustain marine fisheries and associated habitats.The Marine Fisheries Habitat Assessment Improvement Plan (HAIP) defines the NMFS's unique role in pursuing habitat science and in developing habitat assessments to meet this mandate. Through this Plan, NMFS establishes the framework to coordinate its diverse habitat research, monitoring, and assessments and to guide the development of budget alternatives and increased support for habitat science.

Mandate for the assessment

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Developed by team of leading habitat scientists within NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Inland water

Species groups assessed

The approximately 500 fish stocks managed under the U.S.’s Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, with a focus on the 230 stocks that are included in the Fish Stock Sustainability Index (, and that comprise over 90% of U.S. landings.

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food


  • Productivity of marine fish stocks

Supporting Services/Functions

  • The role of habitat in the production of fishery stocks

Cultural Services

  • Commercial and recreational fisheries

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


Assessment outputs


NMFS. 2010. Marine fisheries habitat assessment improvement plan. Reports of the National Marine Fisheries Service Habitat Assessment Improvement Plan Team. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/SPO-108, 115 p.

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Questionnaire

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Questionnaire used to assess the capabilities and needs of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s fisheries science centers for researching and assessing habitat.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Fisheries scientists in the National Marine Fisheries Service

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Knowledge of scientists about the capabilities and needs of the National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct research and assess habitats.

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

The report documents the needs in terms of staff and scientific expertise for the National Marine Fisheries Service to achieve three tiers of excellence in conducting habitat assessments.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Access to funding, Workshops

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Report-outs to senior agency managers, and development of requests for program development and funding through the agency’s strategic planning process.

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information