§ 600.315National Standard 2—Scientific Information.
(a)Standard 2. Conservation and management measures shall be based upon the best scientific information available.
(b)FMP development. The fact that scientific information concerning a fishery is incomplete does not prevent the preparation and implementation of an FMP (see related §§ 600.320(d)(2) and 600.340(b).
(1) Scientific information includes, but is not limited to, information of a biological, ecological, economic, or social nature. Successful fishery management depends, in part, on the timely availability, quality, and quantity of scientific information, as well as on the thorough analysis of this information, and the extent to which the information is applied. If there are conflicting facts or opinions relevant to a particular point, a Council may choose among them, but should justify the choice.
(2) FMPs must take into account the best scientific information available at the time of preparation. Between the initial drafting of an FMP and its submission for final review, new information often becomes available. This new information should be incorporated into the final FMP where practicable; but it is unnecessary to start the FMP process over again, unless the information indicates that drastic changes have occurred in the fishery that might require revision of the management objectives or measures.
(1) An FMP must specify whatever information fishermen and processors will be required or requested to submit to the Secretary. Information about harvest within state boundaries, as well as in the EEZ, may be collected if it is needed for proper implementation of the FMP and cannot be obtained otherwise. The FMP should explain the practical utility of the information specified in monitoring the fishery, in facilitating inseason management decisions, and in judging the performance of the management regime; it should also consider the effort, cost, or social impact of obtaining it.
(2) An FMP should identify scientific information needed from other sources to improve understanding and management of the resource, marine ecosystem, and the fishery (including fishing communities).
(3) The information submitted by various data suppliers should be comparable and compatible, to the maximum extent possible.
(d)FMP amendment. FMPs should be amended on a timely basis, as new information indicates the necessity for change in objectives or management measures.
(1) The SAFE report is a document or set of documents that provides Councils with a summary of information concerning the most recent biological condition of stocks and the marine ecosystems in the FMU and the social and economic condition of the recreational and commercial fishing interests, fishing communities, and the fish processing industries. It summarizes, on a periodic basis, the best available scientific information concerning the past, present, and possible future condition of the stocks, marine ecosystems, and fisheries being managed under Federal regulation.
(i) The Secretary has the responsibility to assure that a SAFE report or similar document is prepared, reviewed annually, and changed as necessary for each FMP. The Secretary or Councils may utilize any combination of talent from Council, state, Federal, university, or other sources to acquire and analyze data and produce the SAFE report.
(ii) The SAFE report provides information to the Councils for determining annual harvest levels from each stock, documenting significant trends or changes in the resource, marine ecosystems, and fishery over time, and assessing the relative success of existing state and Federal fishery management programs. Information on bycatch and safety for each fishery should also be summarized. In addition, the SAFE report may be used to update or expand previous environmental and regulatory impact documents, and ecosystem and habitat descriptions.
(iii) Each SAFE report must be scientifically based, and cite data sources and interpretations.
(2) Each SAFE report should contain information on which to base harvest specifications.
(3) Each SAFE report should contain a description of the maximum fishing mortality threshold and the minimum stock size threshold for each stock or stock complex, along with information by which the Council may determine:
(i) Whether overfishing is occurring with respect to any stock or stock complex, whether any stock or stock complex is overfished, whether the rate or level of fishing mortality applied to any stock or stock complex is approaching the maximum fishing mortality threshold, and whether the size of any stock or stock complex is approaching the minimum stock size threshold.
(ii) Any management measures necessary to provide for rebuilding an overfished stock or stock complex (if any) to a level consistent with producing the MSY in such fishery.
(4) Each SAFE report may contain additional economic, social, community, essential fish habitat, and ecological information pertinent to the success of management or the achievement of objectives of each FMP.
(5) Each SAFE report may contain additional economic, social, and ecological information pertinent to the success of management or the achievement of objectives of each FMP.