NOTE:  To avoid unnecessary delays and duplication, the Southeast Region utilizes the same process for initiating contact for both Essential Fish Habitat and  Endangered Species Act Emergency Consultations.

The essential fish habitat (EFH) regulations recognize the need to respond immediately to emergencies.  Consultation during emergencies can be expedited so Federal agencies can complete their critical missions in a timely manner while still providing protections to EFH.

Where emergency actions are required that may adversely affect EFH, a Federal agency may not have the time for the administrative work required by normal consultation procedures under non-emergency conditions.  Emergency consultation expedites communication and allows agencies to incorporate EFH concerns into their emergency response.

An emergency is a situation involving an act of God, disasters, casualties, national defense or security emergencies, etc., and includes response activities which must be taken during hazardous material clean-up, response to natural disasters, or actions to protect public safety.  During any emergency, NMFS’ primary objective is to provide technical assistance and recommendations for minimizing adverse effects to EFH recognizing the primary objectives of the responding agency to protect public safety will take precedence if there is a conflict with conservation measures for EFH.


STEP 1 - Initiating Contact
During any emergency response, the Federal agency will contact NMFS by telephone and, if possible, by email -  nmfs.ser.emergency.consult@noaa.gov.  EFH points of contact are shown to the right.

STEP 2 - NMFS Recommendations
During this initial contact, NMFS will recommend steps to minimize impacts to EFH during the emergency response.  The Federal agency should implement these protective measures if practical.  NMFS will also provide the agency, within 48 hours, a written response detailing the protective procedures that were identified during the initial contact.   

STEP 3 - NMFS Evaluation
NMFS will continue to evaluate the emergency.  If this evaluation indicates that the emergency response procedures may result in jeopardy/adverse modification, and no means of reducing or avoiding this impact are available, NMFS will advise the responding agency of this and document this conclusion.  The agency will not stop or delay their emergency response because of this notification.  In such a situation, the Federal agency and NMFS will discuss actions to remediate the effects following conclusion of the emergency.

STEP 4 - Emergency Over
Once the emergency is under control, the action agency will evaluate the emergency consultation measures, identify any adverse impacts to EFH caused by response actions, and initiate a post emergency consultation with NMFS.

STEP 5 - Consultation Completed
NMFS will provide after-the-fact EFH Conservation Recommendations to cover any adverse impacts to EFH which occurred from emergency response actions.  If no adverse impacts from response actions occurred, the action agency should notify NMFS and no further consultation is required.


Points of Contact for Emergency Consultations

NOTE: These personnel are NOT 24/7 responders.


David Dale
Southeast Region EFH Coordinator
O: 727-824-5317

In the Gulf of Mexico:

Rusty Swafford
Gulf of Mexico Branch Supervisor
O: 409-766-3699

In the Atlantic and U.S. Caribbean:

Pace Wilber
South Atlantic Branch Supervisor
O: 843-762-8601

National Response Team
Regional Response Team VI
Caribbean Regional Response Team
  • CRRT
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands