The Council convenes several regular meetings per year, in the Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. All meetings are open to the public, except for an occasional, closed session to discuss internal personnel and policy issues. Agendas are posted on the Council’s web site ( prior to the meeting. The Council meeting is web streamed. Minutes are taken for each Council meeting and are available to the public via the Council website.

Briefing Materials

Council members receive briefing materials electronically and/or on hardcopy prior to Council meetings. They include brief background summaries, documents for regulatory action, reports from agencies and organizations, written public comments and other material relevant to the agenda. The briefing materials are cataloged to the meeting agenda with identifier tags located on the top right hand corner of the document. Copies of briefing materials are made available to the public at the meeting as the Council progresses through the agenda. Public comments to be included in the briefing materials can be submitted to the Council office by mail, fax or email and must be received at least one week before the meeting.


Copies of the agenda and pertinent briefing materials are provided on a table at the back of or just outside of the Council meeting venue. Copies of reports, handouts and statements generated during the Council meetings are also provided on the table.

Agendas and Agenda Items

The Council works from an agenda, which is posted on the Council’s website and provided on the table at the back or just outside of the Council meeting venue. The content of the agenda is set by the executive director, in consultation with the Council. Requests for an item to be placed on the agenda should be directed to the executive director or to the Council chair or a vice-chair.

Each fishery management agenda item has several parts. First, a staff person generally provides an overview of the issue or action to be considered. This may be followed by more detailed presentations or information and by reports from the Council’s advisory bodies. Before the Council begins deliberations on the agenda item, it will take public testimony from those who sign up on public comment forms available at the meeting. Finally, the Council discusses the topic and may vote on it.

Public Comment

The Council allows public comment on agenda items. Oral or written statements should include a brief description of the background and interests of the person testifying.

If you’d like to testify during the comment period, you must sign up at the back of the room on a public comment form before the public comment period is completed. Give the completed form to any staff person, who will then hand it to the meeting chair. The chair will call for comments in the order the forms were received. When your name is called, approach the podium, introduce yourself, state your affiliation and give your testimony. Due to time constraints, public comment is limited to three minutes per person or six minutes for an organization or group.

You can also provide written copies of your testimony to be distributed during the meeting. You can do this by providing the written testimony at least one week prior to the start of the meeting or by handing 40 copies of the testimony to the Council staff either prior to or during your testimony.

Robert’s Rules of Order

The Council meeting process generally follows the Robert’s Rules of Order, rules for parliamentary procedure that were first developed in 1876. Traditionally, the General Counsel serves as the parliamentarian to assist with questions regarding rules of order.


During discussion, voting Council members may move to take action. The motion must receive a second by another Council member before a vote is taken. Sometimes Council members will move to amend a motion. An amendment is a suggestion for a change to the main motion. Other times, a Council member may make a substitute motion, which is used to propose action significantly different than the motion on the floor. Amendments may be made to any action on the floor and must be voted on. The main motion, as amended, must receive at least a majority (one over half) to pass.

Council Decisions

In making its decisions, the Council reviews available information and considers public comments, advisory body recommendations, the National Standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Council’s Guiding Principles. Decisions must conform to the MSA, National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Regulatory Flexibility Act and other applicable law, including several executive orders. Final decisions go to the Secretary of Commerce for a second review, public comment and final approval. Regulatory changes may take up to a year or longer to implement, particularly if complex or contentious. Once finalized and approved, they are implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Regulations are found in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 665.