Ocean policy glossary

The world of ocean law and policy is full of acronyms and terms that aren't often used anywhere else.


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  L  M  N  O  P  R  S  T  W  

A

Anadromous: A fish that is born in fresh water, such as a stream, then migrates to the open ocean to grow until adulthood, and then returns to fresh water to spawn.
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Appropriations: committees of the House and Senate. These committees pass the annual bills that fund various federal agencies and programs. They also have subcommittees which work on funding for specific agencies.
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Aquaculture: farming of fresh or saltwater organisms.
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B

Bill: a proposed law that has not been passed. Bills are introduced by a member of Congress (also called the sponsor) and may need to go through revisions before they become an Act.
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Bipartisan: a term used for an issue which is supported by both U.S. political parties
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Briefing: a more informal way to discuss legislation. It can be called or organized by anyone.
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Bycatch (also called 'dirty fishing'): describes living creatures that are caught unintentionally by fishing gear. Unlike target species, animals specifically targeted for capture, bycatch is often unused and discarded.
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C

Catch quota: A catch quota is a specific number of a fished species that is designated as an allowable number of fish that can be caught. This number can be split among fishermen and species of fish in many different ways.
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Cetacean: variety of aquatic, chiefly marine mammals of the order Cetacean, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises, characterized by a nearly hairless body, anterior limbs modified into broad flippers, vestigial posterior limbs and a flat, notched tail.
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Chairman: a member of the majority party who is the leader of a committee. This individual is usually the more senior Congressional member and they hold the most influence on the committee activities and agendas.
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Chamber: A house of Congress. The U.S. government system has two chambers: House of Representatives and Senate.
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Committee: A group of Congress members assigned to work on a particular issue. There are numerous committees within both chambers of Congress.
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Congress: A group of legislatures working in system of government. In the United States, the Congress body has two chambers: House of Representatives and Senate. There are 453 voting members in the House of Representatives and 100 voting members in the Senate.
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Coral Reef Conservation Act (CRCA): a law which established a National Program and Strategy to protect and monitor coral reefs.
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Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ): located in the executive office of the President and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act and provide environmental information to the President.
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D

Deep Sea Coral: typically found at depths deeper than 200 meters along continental margins, seamounts, undersea canyons and ridges. They are some of the oldest animals on Earth, grow at the rate of just a few millimeters each year, and live for thousands of years.
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DOHA: A round of trade talks of the World Trade Organization that began in 2001 in Doha, Qatar.
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E

Ecosystem: a community of animals, plants, and habitat which are interrelated and interact on a daily basis.
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Ecosystem Based Management: A management approach that considers all aspects of an ecosystem, including human influences.
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Endangered Species Act (ESA): mandates for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a large portion of their range and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. This Act was signed into law in 1973.
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Environmental Assessment (EA): a document which reviews a proposed action by a federal agency for potential environmental impacts. This assessment is the first step in analyzing the impacts of a federal action and its compliance to the requirements of NEPA, CEQ, and the agency's directives. This assessment can have two findings: 1. Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) meaning no further review is needed, or 2. Significant Impact and therefore the agency must prepare a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
DEIS: Draft EIS
SEIS: Supplemental EIS
FEIS: Final EIS
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Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): a document prepared by a federal agency to analyze a proposed action or project and released to the public for comment and review. This statement is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) after an Environmental Assessment has shown the proposed federal action will cause a significant impact on the environment.
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the federal agency authorized to protect human health and the environment. It supervises and manages the environmental effects of actions by the federal government and also develops regulations and provides public education programs.
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Essential Fish Habitat (EFH): waters, areas, and substrates necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth through out all life stages. This term was introduced in the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996.
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Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): an area extending up to 200 nautical miles from the U.S. coastline. Within the EEZ, the U.S. has sovereign rights over all living and non-living resources. Other nations may exercise freedom of vessel navigation and overflight within the U.S. EEZ but foreign harvesting of marine resources requires a permit.
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F

Fisheries: the commercial or recreational effort to capture fish populations. The majority of the time it refers to the commercial exploitation of the fish populations.
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Fishery Management Council (FMC): created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976 to develop management plans and monitor the fisheries within a geographical region in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). There are eight regional FMCs: Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, New England, Northern Pacific, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific, South Atlantic, and Western Pacific.
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Fishery Management Plan (FMP): a long-term plan developed by a fishery management council (FMC) to monitor and manage fisheries and shellfish stocks.
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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): federal legislation that allows access to government documents.
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G

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Council's Website: www.gulfcouncil.org
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H

Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC): places of special importance to marine life that may require additional protection from adverse effects. Fishery Management Plans must identify specific types or areas of habitat within Essential Fish Habitats (EFHs) as HAPCs.
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Hearing: a formal way for Congress to discuss a piece of legislation, conduct investigations, gather information, or analyze issues. They usually involve testimony by outside expert witnesses in the field of interest. They are called by the Chair of the committee and become part of the official record.
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House of Representatives: one of the two chambers of the United States legislative body; the other body is the Senate. There are 435 voting members and the number of representatives of each state is based on population. Each member serves a two year term and can be elected unlimited number of times.
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I

Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU): fishing which is prohibited by international and national laws. It can refer to the use of improper fishing gear, the location of fishing, or the failure to accurately report catch.
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Important Ecological Areas: Habitat areas that either by themselves, or in a network, make invaluable contributions to the diversity, productivity and resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems.
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Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ): a federal permit to harvest a quantity of fish, generally expressed as a percent allowable catch that may be held for exclusive use by a person.
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Invertebrate: Animals without backbones.
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L

Law: a rule governing citizens, government, and private entities.
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Limited Entry Programs: A program found within some fisheries whereby the entrance into the fishery is limited. Access can be given to fishermen in a variety of ways.
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M

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA): the major law governing fishery management in the United States. This act was signed into law in 1976 and was most recently reauthorized in 2006.
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Marine Mammal: any animal in the Orders Sirenia and Cetacea; Superfamily Pinnipedia; or sea otters and polar bears.
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Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA): a law establishing federal responsibility to conserve marine mammals. With certain exceptions, MMPA established a moratorium on the taking and importation of marine mammals, as well as products taken from them, and established procedures from waiving the moratorium and transferring management responsiblity to the states.
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Marine Protected Area (MPA): a designated place to help preserve marine life. A MPA is used as a management tool to protect, maintain or restore natural and cultural resources in coastal and marine waters.
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Marine Sanctuary: an important area designated to protect habitat and/or marine inhabitants. They generally are protected under federal or state law and are part of a larger system of many sanctuaries.
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Mark-Up (Committee): a part of the legislative process when a committee decides on the language of a bill, resolution, or measure it plans to bring to the chamber floor.
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Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Act. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Council's Website: www.mafmc.org/mid-atlantic/mafmc.htm
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Moratorium: complete cessation and ban on a certain activity.
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N

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of major federal projects or decisions, to share information with the public; to identify and assess reasonable alternatives; and coordinate efforts with other planning and environmental reviews taking place.
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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS): a branch of NOAA specifically responsible for fisheries management. Also called NOAA fisheries, though NMFS is the preferred term.
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): the federal agency responsible for monitoring and conserving U.S. waters and coastal resources.
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New England Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Council's Website: www.nefmc.org
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Northern Pacific Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of Alaska. Council's Website: www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/
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O

Ocean: a major body of salty (or saline)water. Oceans cover around 70% of the earth's surface.
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Overexploitation: To use (fish for) a species, usually for the purpose of gaining profit, to the point of overfishing.
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Overfishing: the rate of fishing which reduces the fish population below levels which allow the population to replenish.
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P

Pacific Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Council's Website: www.pcouncil.org/
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Pelagic: Pelagic fish are those that spend their time in the pelagic zone of the ocean, or the open ocean. They are often large and fast fish, such as tuna and swordfish.
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Pinnipeds: of or belonging to the Superfamily Pinnipedia, a suborder of carnivorous aquatic mammals that includes seals, walruses and similar animals having finlike flippers as organs of locomotion.
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Pod: a small herd or school, especially seals or whales.
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Public comment: A period of time when members of the public are able to submit comments to federal agencies regarding an EIS and its results.
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R

Ranking Member: the highest member of a committee from the minority party.
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Reauthorization: Laws are only "authorized" for a specific amount of time. They must be reauthorized to continue funding and often during this process, changes and updates are made to the law.
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Resolution: a statement defining a position on an issue. In Congress, it is mainly an nonbinding consensus of Congress.
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S

Senate: one of the two chambers of the United States legislative body; the other body is the House of Representatives. There are two members from each state thus there are 100 voting members. Each member serves a six-year term and elections are staggered where every two years a set (or "class") of Senators run for office. The Vice President is the President of the Senate but is not a voting member expect to break ties.
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Session: is the particular term of Congress. The same Congress meets for two years, first session and second session respectively, which coincides with the election of Representatives.
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South Atlantic Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and east Florida to Key West. Council's Website: www.safmc.net
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Species: one type of organism with similar physical and genetic characteristics.
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Subcommittee: a subset of a committee focused on specific issues. Like a committee structure, they have staff. Also, they present legislation and measures to the full committee for review.
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Subsidies: types of financial aid provided by a government given to an individual, company, or industry to promote production or harvest of a resource. Also they can provide monetary assistance to counterbalance the reduction of a resource as is the case in many bad fishing subsidies.
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T

Take Reduction Team (TRT): established to develop plans to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals.
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Total Allowable Catches (TACs): A cap placed on a species that limits the number of animals that are caught within a specified amount of time.
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W

West Pacific Fishery Management Council: one of the eight fishery management councils created by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976. The council manages the fisheries within the U.S. EEZ off the coasts of American Samoa, Hawaii, the Northern Islands of Mariana, the territory of Guam, and U.S. Pacific Island possessions. Council's Website: www.wpcouncil.org
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