Frequently Asked Questions: Endangered and Threatened Species Listing 101
Frequently Asked Questions: Endangered and Threatened Species Listing 101
Q: What are the steps and timelines for NOAA Fisheries to list a species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?
A: The steps and associated deadlines are presented below. A listing is not a foregone conclusion for any species until a final rule is published.
Step 1: Petition
Any interested person or organization can petition NOAA Fisheries to list a species under the ESA. A petition must:
- Clearly indicate the requested listing action, threatened or endangered, and give the name (scientific and common) of the species;
- Contain a detailed discussion and justification for the requested listing, describing past and present numbers, distribution, and any threats faced by the species;
- Provide information regarding the status of the species over all or a signification portion of its range; and
- Provide supporting documentation, in the form of references, publications, copies if reports or letters from authorities, and maps.
Step 2: 90-day Finding
The 90-day finding is a decision on whether or not the petition presented substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. The 90-day finding is based solely on the information included in the petition and information found in files NOAA Fisheries has readily available. We cannot request information from other sources at the 90-day finding stage. The petition does not need to show a strong likelihood that a species should be listed, but only needs to show that listing may be warranted.
- If we find that the petition did not present substantial information, we will publish a negative 90-day finding in the Federal Register. The listing process ends. However, a person or organization can submit a new petition and a species can be petitioned again at a later date.
- If we find that the petition presented substantial information, we will publish a positive 90-day finding in the Federal Register. We will often request information from the public to help inform the status review.
Step 3: Status Review
A positive 90-day finding automatically triggers a status review and a 12-month determination. A status review is a comprehensive assessment of the status of the species and its threats. It is based on the best available science. It considers any information received from the public. NOAA Fisheries relies on the status review to make a 12-month determination as to whether or not a species should be listed as threatened or endangered, or not at all.
Step 4: 12-Month Determination
The 12-month determination is a decision on whether or not listing the species is warranted. In making the 12-month determination, we look at the status review, existing conservation efforts being made by any State or foreign nation to protect the species, and Endangered Species Act (ESA) policies. There are three options:
- The listing is not warranted, in which case NOAA Fisheries will publish the determination in the Federal Register. The listing process ends.
- The listing is warranted, but precluded because other pending listing, delisting, or reclassification actions take priority. In this case, we have determined that listing is warranted, but that listing other species takes priority because they are more in need of protection.
- The listing is warranted, in which case NOAA Fisheries will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register.
Step 5: Proposed Rule
If NOAA Fisheries decides that the species should be listed, a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. A proposed rule will contain a summary of the data and the decision to propose the species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. NOAA Fisheries will allow at least 60-days for public comment. We usually also hold public hearings.
Step 6: How to Comment and How We use Public Comments
When a positive 90-day finding or a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register a public comment period automatically opens. Any scientific or commercial information submitted by the public during the public comment periods will help inform the final listing decision. The Federal Register Notice will provide specifics on the information needed and details on how to submit comments electronically or by mail.
Step 7: Final Listing Decision
Within one year of publishing a proposed rule, NOAA Fisheries must publish in the Federal Register a final decision to complete or withdraw the listing. The final decision will consider and address the public comments received. If the decision is to list the species, the final rule will specify when the listing will actually go into effect, usually 30 days later.
Q: What does NOAA Fisheries consider when reviewing a species for listing under the ESA?
A: We consider the five listing factors. A species can be listed if it is endangered or threatened due to any one of these five factors: 1) Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; 2) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; 3) Disease or predation; 4) Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; 5) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
Q: Can economics be considered when we determine whether a species should be listed under the ESA?
A: No economics cannot be considered when we are determining whether a species should be listed under the ESA. We must make an ESA listing determination solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.
Q: When can the public provide input on a listing?
A: After we publish a positive 90-day finding:
We often request scientific and commercial information from the public. We may incorporate this information into the status review.
After a proposed rule is published:
We provide the public at least a 60-day comment period. We may also hold public hearings to solicit addition information. We will then address the public comments received in the final listing decision.
Q: What happens if a species is listed as “endangered”?
A: Endangered species are automatically afforded protections under Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For endangered animals, including any parts or products, the ESA prohibits:
- Import or export from the U.S.
- Take in the U.S., or the territorial sea of the U.S.
- Take upon the high seas.
- Possession, sale, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, by any means, such species taken illegally.
- Deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship interstate or foreign commerce, by any means in the course of commercial activity, such species taken illegally.
- Sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce.
Q: What happens if a species is listed as “threatened”?
Q: What can be listed under the ESA?
A: Plants and animals can be listed at the species and sub-species level. Vertebrate animals can also be listed as distinct population segments.
Fun fact: insect species classified as a pest cannot be listed under the ESA.
Q: What species are listed under the ESA?
A. NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have the ability to list species under the ESA.
To learn more about threatened and endangered species managed by NOAA Fisheries, go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/index.htm
To learn more about threatened and endangered species managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, go to: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/us-species.html
Q: What species have been petitioned for listing?
Q. What is a 4(d) rule?
Q: If a species is listed under the ESA will I need a permit to conduct my research activities?
Q: What about species held in captivity?
Q: Do I need a permit to keep endangered species in captivity?
Q: Does a U.S. citizen need an ESA permit to “take” endangered species in a foreign country?
Q: Where do I get a scientific research & enhancement permit?
Application instructions are at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/esa_permits.htm#scientific.
Q. What if you still have a species (part or product) that you obtained for commercial purposes prior to the species being proposed for listing as endangered?
Q. What is the Federal Register?
It contains proposed and final regulations. To search, view, and comment on new regulations please visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/