Request for a Letter of Acknowledgment (LOA)

  1. Persons planning to conduct scientific research activities on board a scientific research vessel in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are encouraged to submit to the appropriate Regional Administrator, 60 days or as soon as practicable prior to its start, a scientific research plan for each scientific research activity. 
    1. The Regional Administrator will acknowledge notification of scientific research activity by issuing to the operator or master of that vessel, or to the sponsoring institution, a LOA. 
    2. This LOA is separate and distinct from any permit or consultation required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other applicable law. 
    3. The Regional Administrator will include text in the LOA informing the applicant that such permits may be required and should be obtained from the agency prior to embarking on the activity. 
  2. Information on applying for a LOA can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 C.F.R. § 600.745(a).  To request a LOA, please send a letter, on official letterhead from the institution supporting the principal investigator(s), to the Southeast Regional Office at the address below. 
  3. The letter should identify the activity to be conducted, and must include a copy of the scientific research plan as defined at 50 C.F.R. § 600.10, and provide sufficient information to establish that a LOA is warranted and appropriate[1].  A copy of the principal investigator(s) CV(s) or resume(s) and, where different, the CV or resume of the person in charge of the research project on board the vessel, should be included with the request.  Additionally, the scientific research plan must include the following information about the vessels to be used during research activities:
    1. Vessel name.
    2. USCG documentation number.
    3. Vessel home port.
    4. Vessel owner information – name, mailing address, phone number, email.
    5. Vessel captain information and/or primary project participants – names
  4. The letter should identify an individual as a point of contact who can respond to any questions regarding the project that NMFS staff may have during consideration of your request for an LOA.


[1] If the Regional Administrator (RA), after review of a research plan, determines that it does not constitute scientific research but rather fishing, the RA will inform the applicant as soon as practicable and in writing.  The RA or Director may also make recommendations to revise the research plan to ensure the activity will be considered to be scientific research activity or recommend the applicant request an EFP.


LOA application packages should be addressed to:


Dr. Roy E. Crabtree, Regional Administrator

NOAA Fisheries Service

Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

263 13th Ave. South

St. Petersburg, FL 33701


For research conducted in the South Atlantic, applications can be mailed or emailed:

            Attn:  Rick DeVictor, South Atlantic Branch Chief



For research conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, applications can be mailed or emailed:

            Attn:  Susan Gerhart, Gulf of Mexico Branch Chief



For research conducted in the Caribbean, applications can be mailed or emailed:

            Attn:  Dr. William Arnold, Caribbean Branch Chief