EFH Home | Contact PSMFC Habitat Education Program

Identification of Essential Fish Habitat for Pacific Salmon

(Appendix A of Amendment 14 to Pacific Coast Salmon Plan, January 1999)


"Essential fish habitat means those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feed, or growth to maturity." (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires federal fishery management plans to describe the habitat essential to the fish being managed and describe threats to that habitat from both fishing and non-fishing activities. In addition, in order to protect this Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), federal agencies are required to consult with the National Marine Fisehries Service (NMFS) on activities that may adversely affect EFH.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council manages the fisheries for coho, chinook, and Puget Sound Pink Salmon and has defined EFH for these three species. Salmon EFH includes all those streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and other water bodies currently or historically accessible to salmon in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Salmon EFH excludes areas upstream of longstanding naturally impassible barriers (i.e. natural waterfalls in existence for several hundred years), but includes aquatic areas above all artificial barriers except specifically named impassible dams.

When the EFH needs of all these species at each life stage is considered as a whole, the EFH for the Pacific coast salmon fishery is broad, covering freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. Salmon EFH extends from the nearshore and tidal submerged environments within state territorial waters out to the full extent of the exclusive economic zone (200 miles or 370.4km) offshore of Washington, Oregon, and California north of Point Conception. Foreign waters (i.e. off Canada) are not included in salmon EFH because they are outside U.S. jurisdiction. Pacific salmon EFH also includes the marine areas off Alaska designated as salmon EFH by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Amendment 14 to the Pacific Salmon fishery management plan provides details on the life history, habitat needs, and specific EFH definitions for each species (coho, chinook, and Puget Sound pink salmon) and their various life stages. It also provides details on the definition of the geographic extent of EFH, describing fresh water areas currently or historically used by salmon by their U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic units and details about which aquatic areas above which dams are excluded from the salmon EFH definition. This report is available from the Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 200, Portland, Oregon 97220-1384, toll free 1-866-806-7204, www.pcouncil.org/salmon/salfmp/a14.html.

Chapter 3 of Appendix A of Amendment 14 (link below) contains information on potential impacts to salmon EFH from fishing and non-fishing activities and provides recommendations on ways to minimize adverse affects of these activities on salmon habitat.

Measures to minimize impacts on salmon EFH.