Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) means those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity (1996 US Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Interpretation of the definition of EFH (NOAA/NMFS):

  • Waters include aquatic areas and their associated physical, chemical, and biological properties that are used by fish
  • Substrate includes sediment, hard bottom, structures underlying the waters, and associated biological communities
  • Necessary means the habitat required to support a sustainable fishery and the managed speciesí contribution to a healthy ecosystem
  • Spawning, Breeding, Feeding, or Growth to Maturity covers a speciesí full life cycle

  • In Europe:

    An on-going reformating of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for sustainable fisheries:

    It offers the best possible prospect of securing the future of the European fisheries sector for the benefit of all concerned:

  • The Fishing Sector and the Coastal Communities
  • The Fish Stocks
  • The Marine Environment
  • The Consumers

    European Communities information sheets for SSP projects

  • The EnviEFH Specific Support Action:

    The importance of identifying, designating and protecting Essential Fish Habitats (EFH) has been widely recognised.
    EFH mapping and designation applies to the spatial component of Fisheries Management, a component that has often been neglected in previously enforced fisheries policies.
    The new framework regulation on the European Communities Common Fisheries Policy requires the proper introduction of habitat identification and protection into developing new fishery policies.

    Fishery management goals cannot be achieved if the managed species do not have sufficient suitable habitat.
    The identification and spatiotemporal mapping of EFH represents the main scientific task of the spatial component of fisheries management.