The Present Era: 1972-1996As the Nation grew in environmental awareness, the holistic aspects of marine research and ecology, pioneered in the 1870's by Spencer Baird, gained added impetus. NMFS published large volumes on ocean variability and the relationship of the ocean's physical and chemical processes to fish distribution, abundance, and stock composition. In the middle 1970's the new NMFS-wide Marine Resources Monitoring Assessment and Prediction (MARMAP) program began to collect uniform data for fisheries management and this information has been crucial to the ecosystems approaches later developed by the Fishery Management Councils.
New laws were passed to protect endangered species and the marine environment and its resources. These included the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and others. Research advances also brought new concepts and better understanding of the resources and better ways to protect and manage them.
And in 1976, Congress passed the landmark Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act the first real step toward comprehensive management of marine fishes. The new law set up eight regional Fishery Management Councils to manage the Nation's fisheries within the newly created 200-mile fishery conservation zone (FCZ).
Another new marine environmental research initiative was the Ocean Pulse and Northeast Monitoring Program which was later expanded nationwide as NOAA's Status and Trends Program in 198485. Others were the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program, the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP), etc.
In 1985, the NMFS Woods Hole Laboratory was rededicated, celebrating a full century of marine fisheries and environmental research. And in 1991, NMFS published a new report, "Our Living Oceans," the most thorough assessment ever of the status and abundance of the fishes and marine mammals within the U.S. 200-mile EEZ.