Arctic Fishery Management

In 2009, the Council approved, and NMFS implemented, a new Fishery Management Plan for Fish Resources of the Arctic Management Area (Arctic FMP). The Council’s action recognizes the different and changing ecological conditions of the Arctic, including warming trends in ocean temperatures, the loss of seasonal ice cover, and the potential long term effects from these changes on the Arctic marine ecosystem. More prolonged ice-free seasons coupled with warming waters and changing ranges of fish species could together create conditions that could lead to commercial fishery development in the U.S. Arctic Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The emergence of unregulated, or inadequately regulated, commercial fisheries in the Arctic EEZ off Alaska could have adverse effects on the sensitive ecosystem and marine resources of this area, including fish, fish habitat, and non-fish species that inhabit or depend on marine resources of the U.S. Arctic EEZ, and the subsistence way of life of residents of Arctic communities. Staff contact is Steve MacLean: 907-271-3235.


The Council’s Arctic FMP is created under authority of the U.S. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

  • All Federal waters of the U.S. Arctic will be closed to commercial fishing for any species of finfish, mollusks, crustaceans, and all other forms of marine animal and plant life; however, harvest of marine mammals and birds is not regulated by the Arctic FMP.
  • The Arctic FMP will not regulate subsistence or recreational fishing or State of Alaska-managed fisheries in the Arctic.

The Council’s management policy for the U.S. Arctic EEZ is an ecosystem-based management policy that proactively applies judicious and responsible fisheries management practices, based on sound scientific research and analysis, to ensure the sustainability of fishery resources, to prevent unregulated or poorly regulated commercial fishing, and to protect associated ecosystems for the benefit of current users and future generations. This management policy recognizes the need to balance competing uses of marine resources and different social and economic goals for sustainable fishery management, including protection of the long-term health of the ecosystem and the optimization of yield from its fish resources. This policy recognizes the complex interactions among ecosystem components, and seeks to protect important species utilized by other ecosystem component species, potential target species, other organisms such as marine mammals and birds, and local residents and communities. All management measures will be based on the best scientific information available.

2009: August Final Arctic FMP / EA/RIR/IRFA / Federal Register Notice
2009: February Arctic FMP motion  / Informational Flier
2008: October  Arctic FMP Motion

Arctic Management Area

The Council’s Arctic FMP covers the U.S. Arctic EEZ waters offshore Alaska. This area is the Arctic Management Area, and is defined as all marine waters in the U.S. EEZ of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas from 3 nautical miles offshore the coast of Alaska or its baseline to 200 nautical miles offshore, north of Bering Strait (from Cape Prince of Wales to Cape Dezhneva) and westward to the 1990 U.S./Russia maritime boundary line and eastward to the U.S./Canada maritime boundary.

Outreach Program, 2007-2008

The Council adopted an outreach program designed to inform residents of the Arctic region of the Council’s intent in developing an Arctic FMP.

Additional Information