Coastal Pelagic Species EFH
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Identification of Essential Fish Habitat for Coastal Pelagic Species


"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 Fisheries Service (NMFS) on activities that may adversely affect EFH.

The fishery management plan for Pacific coast Coastal Pelagic Species includes 5 species: northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, Pacific (chub) mackerel, jack mackerel (the CPS finfish), and market squid. Essential fish habitat for these coastal pelagic species is defined both through geographic boundaries and by sea-surface temperature ranges.

The specific description of EFH for CPS finfish accomodates the fact that the geographic range of all CPS finfish varies widely over time in response to the temperature of the upper mixed layer of the ocean, particularly in the area north of Point Arena, California. This generalization is probably also true for market squid but few data are available. Adult CPS finfish are generally not found at temperatures colder than 10 C or warmer than 26 C and preferred temperatures and minimum spawning temperatures and minimum spawning temperatures are generally above 13. Spawning is most common at 14 C to 16 C.

The east-west geographic boundary of EFH for each individual CPS finfish and market squid is defined to be all marine and estuarine waters from the shoreline along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington offshore to the limits of the exclusive economic zone (200 miles) and above the thermocline where sea surface temperatures range between 10 C and 26 C. The southern extend of EFH for CPS finfish is the U.S.-Mexico maritime boundary. The northern boundary of the range of CPS finfish is more dynamic and variable due to the seasonal cooling of the sea surface temperature. The northern EFH boundary is, therefore, the position of the 10 C isotherm which varies both seasonally and annually.

The following document provides EFH information for the Coastal Pelagic species ( It describes the life history and habitat patterns and distribution information, including seasonal variations. It describes potential fishing and non-fishing impacts to coastal pelagic EFH and methods to minimize these adverse effects.