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Executive Summary
Pages 1-6

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From page 1...
... provisions specified by the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The amended act requires regional fishery management councils to describe and identify EFH for each fish stock managed under a fishery management plan, to minimize to the extent practicable adverse effects on such habitat caused by fishing, and to identify other actions to encourage habitat conservation and enhancement.
From page 2...
... Those reductions reflect effort reductions, area closures, and gear restrictions instituted by managers in response to problems with declining fish stocks, bycatch, or interactions with endangered species. The spatial distribution of different habitat types in trawled (or dredged)
From page 3...
... In this context, comparative risk assessment provides a promising approach to evaluate the effects of bottom trawling and dredging. This method brings together the various stakeholders to identify risks to seafloor habitats and to rank management actions within the context of current statutes.
From page 4...
... Recommendation The regional fishery management councils should use comparative risk assessment to identify and evaluate risks to seafloor habitat and to prioritize management actions within the context of current statutes and regulations. Risk assessment, in general, is a scientifically informed way of clarifying public debates over environmental policy by making explicit the environmental consequences of particular policy choicest Comparative risk assessment provides the following advantages for the task of benthic habitat protection: .
From page 5...
... Evaluation of the indirect effects of bottom trawling and dredging will require experimentation, modeling, s and comparison of different habitat types to analyze trends in benthic production and community structure relative to trends in fisheries production. This evaluation should include: effects of habitat fragmentation on biological communities and the productivity of exploited fish stocks; rates and magnitude of sediment resuspension, nutrient regeneration, and responses of the plankton community in relation to gear-induced disturbance; and - long-term trend data on benthic production versus fisheries production.
From page 6...
... Management measures should be assessed regularly to provide better information about how various restrictions affect fish stocks and habitats and to determine the socioeconomic effects on the fishing industry and fishing communities. However, existing data are not sufficient to optimize the spatial and temporal distribution of trawling and dredging to protect habitat and sustain fishery yields.

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