This map shows two separate overlays relating to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). EFH is defined as those waters and substrates necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the regional fishery management councils have defined and identified spatially explicit boundaries of EFH for 39 groundfish species and 42 highly migratory species. This map shows the number of species that have designated EFH in each grid cell.

Data Considerations

This map is based on data from NMFS that were downloaded from the EHF Mapper and EFH Data Inventory.

The Groundfish and Scallop EFH overlay consists of EFH gridded in ten-minute squares for 39 species under federal management in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast using source data from 2009. The original data contain information on life stage for each species (i.e., larva, juvenile, adult), and this is retained in the attribute fields. However, the mapped values show total number of species and are not categorized by life stage. Species included in this product are American plaice, Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Atlantic herring, Atlantic sea scallop, Atlantic wolffish, barndoor skate, black sea bass, bluefish, butterfish, clearnose skate, haddock, little skate, longfin inshore squid, mackerel, monkfish, northern shortfin squid, ocean pout, offshore hake, pollock, quahog, redfish, red crab, red hake, rosette skate, scup, silver hake, smooth skate, spiny dogfish, surfclam, summer flounder, tilefish, thorny skate, white hake, windowpane flounder, winter flounder, winter skate, witch flounder, and yellowtail flounder.

The Highly Migratory Species (HMS) EFH overlay includes 42 species for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Source data included life stage information, but these were not retained within the overlay product due to the complexity of aggregating irregular polygon data. Species included in this product are albacore tuna, angel shark, Atlantic sharpnose shark, basking shark, bigeye thresher shark, bigeye tuna, bignose shark, blacknose shark, blacktip shark, bluefin tuna, blue marlin, blue shark, bonnethead shark, bull shark, caribbean reef shark, common thresher shark, dusky shark, finetooth shark, great hammerhead shark, lemon shark, longbill spearfish, longfin mako shark, night shark, nurse shark, oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle roundscale spearfish, shark, sailfish, sandbar shark, sand tiger shark, scalloped hammerhead shark, shortfin mako shark, silky shark, skipjack tuna, smooth dogfish, spinner shark, swordfish, tiger shark, whale shark, white marlin, white shark, and yellowfin tuna.


Data from NMFS were downloaded in spring 2015. These products are considered final as of January 2016, and the Northeast Ocean Data Working Group will evaluate possible updates if new data become available.

Support for Regional Ocean Planning

For information about how these data and maps are being developed with stakeholder input and used to support regional ocean planning, please visit the marine life and habitat page on the Northeast Regional Planning Body’s website.