Habitat Assessment Prioritization

The Habitat Assessment Prioritization Working Group (HAPWG) was established to develop a nationally-standardized set of criteria and a process for prioritizing stocks that would most benefit from habitat assessments. This was a major recommendation set forth in the 2010 Habitat Assessment Improvement Plan (HAIP). The end result of the prioritization process will be two regional lists of stocks for habitat assessments:

  • Stock Assessment Priorities: Stock assessments that will most benefit from habitat assessments
  • EFH Science Priorities: Stocks for which habitat assessments will most advance EFH

Completed Regional Habitat Assessments:


This process establishes a national framework for prioritizing habitat assessments, but the working group recognizes that habitat science priorities should be determined regionally, because fishery management and science decisions are made and implemented largely on a regional basis. Each NMFS region will convene a regional working group to conduct this process to prioritize stocks for habitat assessments. Collectively, these regional lists will represent a national set of habitat science priorities.

For more information about the national framework see the following report: Habitat Assessment Prioritization Working Group Report.

Regional Habitat Assessment Prioritization Process

Southwest Region: The Southwest Region (i.e. California) was selected in 2012 as the first region to work through the regional prioritization process and serve as a pilot study, testing the practical implementation of the prioritization criteria and guidelines outlined by the HAPWG. For the summary and results of the Southwest process, see the following report:
Regional Habitat Assessment Prioritization for California Stocks

Western Region: The Northwest Region (i.e. Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) was the second region selected for regional prioritization in 2013-14. Although the considerable connections between the Northwest and Southwest Regions are acknowledged, the prioritization processes were kept separate to address regional habitat science needs. This was done with an expectation that there will likely be significant overlap in priority needs, and that continued coordination and collaboration between Northwest and Southwest scientists and managers will ensure maximum benefits gained from new efforts. The final report describes application of the HAPWG prioritization criteria for Northwest and Southwest stocks, compares and contrasts scoring approaches, and presents results across all West Coast stocks.
Updated Habitat Assessment Prioritization for the West Coast.

Northeast Region: Completed in 2015, this report describes the HAPWG scoring results for stocks found in the Northeast region.
Regional Habitat Assessment Prioritization for Northeastern Stocks