Posts in National Marine Fisheries Service.

While a number of Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform bills continue to wind their way through Congress (see our May 6, 2015 post), yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced their own plan to "increase regulatory predictability, increase stakeholder engagement, and improve science and transparency" when acting on petitions to list, uplist, downlist, or delist a species, as well as petitions to revise critical habitat designations.  Rather than revising the ESA itself, as some in Congress ...

On April 3, 2015, a federal district court in California put the brakes on a proposed logging project, invalidating a habitat conservation plan and incidental take permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as a biological opinion and incidental take statement issued by NMFS under section 7. Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. Nat’l Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Case No. 13-cv-03717 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2015) (pdf).

A project can avoid the general take ...

After a relatively quiet start to the year, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)  have issued findings and rules regarding the proposed listings of four separate species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) over the last two days.  NMFS issued a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Gulf of Mexico population of Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni) on April 6, 2015.  FWS issued a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) and proposed to list two species of crayfish - the Big Sandy crayfish ...

On March 27, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) accepted two petitions asking NMFS to list the Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act either throughout the entirety of its global range, or as distinct population segments (DPS) occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, the Northeast Atlantic, and the Mediterranean.  (80 Fed. Reg. 16,356 [pdf].)  The petitions, filed separately by Wild Earth Guardians and the Humane Society of the United States, were originally rejected as not warranted by NMFS in July 2010.  Both ...

On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a 12-month finding (pdf) concluding that listing a distinct population segment (DPS) of the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the Baltic Sea as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. NMFS found that while a discrete subpopulation of harbor porpoises exists in the Baltic region, the subpopulation is not ecologically and biologically significant to the species.

In order to determine that a DPS exists, NMFS must find: (i) that a subpopulation is discrete ...

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On March 3, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued two Federal Register notices – a 90-day finding on a petition (pdf) to list the Common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) as either threatened or endangered, and a proposed rule to list  (pdf) the Tanzanian distinct population segment (DPS) of the African Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) as a threatened species.

On August 26, 2014, Friends of Animals petitioned NMFS to list the Common thresher shark as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or, in the alternative, to delineate six ...

On February 24, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced a 12-month finding (pdf) on the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) petition to revise the critical habitat designation for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The 12-month finding describes how NMFS intends to proceed with the revision: completing data collection and analysis, identifying areas that meet the definition of critical habitat, balancing the benefits of any designation against the ...

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On Friday, February 20, a federal district court denied (pdf) a motion to dismiss, thereby breathing life into an Endangered Species Act (ESA) challenge brought against the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Bank) for funding activities in and around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. See Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Export-Import Bank of the United States, No. C 12-6325 SBA (N.D. Cal. Feb. 20, 2015). As previously reported on this blog, the case alleges that the Bank violated section 7 of the ESA by failing to consult with federal wildlife ...

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On February 10, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration ("Services") issued a final rule (pdf) to include captive killer whales in the Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment (DPS) of killer whales (Orcinus orca). The DPS has been listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 2005, but the listing excluded whales held in captivity. In January 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals petitioned the Services to remove the exclusion and extend the protections of ...

On February 2, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) announced its plan to extend the period for public comments on its December 3, 2014 proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida), reported on this blog.  (80 FR 5498 [pdf].)  The Service’s proposed rule would designate millions of acres in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas as critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal.  The public comment period will now remain open until March 31, 2015.  Additionally, the Service announced that a fifth ...

Coming in just under the wire for the New Year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published new rules today, making December a very busy month for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions. Below are the latest items from FWS and NMFS to be published in 2014.

December 31, 2014 - FWS issued a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) as a threatened species under the ESA.  FWS found that the information and sources cited in the petition present substantial commercial or scientific ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) recently published (pdf) its final rule listing five species of sawfish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The final rule contains the Service’s determination that the narrow sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidate), dwarf sawfish (Pristis clavata), largetooth sawfish (collectively, Pristis pristis), green sawfish (Pristis zijsron) and the non-U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are endangered species under the ESA.  The Service determined that these five ...

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On December 9, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Secretary of Commerce published a revised proposed rule designating critical habitat for the Arctic Ringed Seal.  The previous proposed rule was published here (and reported on this blog here) on December 3rd.  Citing a clerical error, NMFS withdrew the December 3rd rule, claiming it "contained numerous errors."  The rule published today is intended to replace the prior critical habitat designation, and the comment period will reopen effective today and will remain open until March 9, 2015 ...

On November 24, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) issued (pdf) a new Biological Opinion (BiOp) (pdf) for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Nationwide Permit Program under the Clean Water Act.  The BiOp constitutes the conclusion of the formal programmatic consultation process between the Corps and the Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the Corps’ revisions to and renewal of expiring nationwide permits authorizing a wide variety of activities under the Clean Water Act, such as mooring buoys, residential developments, utility ...

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On December 3, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published its proposed rule designating critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida).  (79 Fed. Reg. 71,714).  The proposed designation, if finalized, would mark one of the largest critical habitat designations in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas, consisting of millions of acres.  The seal, which was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2012, is the smallest of the northern seals with an average lifespan of 15 to 28 years. (77 ...

On November 5, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a 12-month finding (pdf) for the queen conch (Strombus gigas), concluding that the species prized for its meat and shell does not warrant listing because it is "not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range nor is it likely to become so within the foreseeable future."  WildEarth Guardians had submitted the 2012 petition requesting that the queen conch be listed, citing overfishing as the primary threat to the species.   In the 12-month finding, however, the ...

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Tags: Conch, Meat, NMFS, Shell

On October 23rd the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington upheld the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) compliance with a 2008 reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) stemming from previous litigation.  The National Wildlife Federation initially challenged the program for its impacts on endangered Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon, Puget Sound steelhead, Hood Canal chum salmon, and Southern Resident killer whales in National Wildlife Federation v. Federal Emergency Management Agency, 345 ...

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a 90-day finding (pdf) on two petitions to list the pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designating critical habitat for the species. According to NMFS, there is substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the species under the ESA may be warranted.

The pinto abalone is a marine gastropod mollusk found in the Pacific Ocean. Its range extends from Sitka Island, Alaska, to Baja California, Mexico, though it is mostly found ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently issued a proposed rule (pdf) designating critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean loggerhead sea turtle Distinct Population Segment (DPS) (Caretta caretta) within the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The 36 marine areas proposed for designation as critical habitat contain one or a combination of nearshore reproductive habitat, winter habitat, breeding areas, and migratory corridors.

The loggerhead sea turtle was listed worldwide as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on July 28 ...

In a unanimous panel decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held (pdf) that a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the effects of three pesticides on certain salmonids was not the product of reasoned decision-making.  The Fourth Circuit refused to silently rubber stamp an agency decision where NMFS failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for key aspects of that decision.  Further, the court refused to allow NMFS to offer post hoc rationalizations for its decision in the form of an expert affidavit and ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reopened  the public comment period for its proposal to designate additional critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi).  As we previously reported, on June 2, 2011, NMFS proposed revising the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by extending the current designation in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to the 500-meter depth contour, including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in ...

On March 1-2, 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Marine Fisheries Service held a two-day conference entitled "Demystifying National Flood Insurance Program Alignment with the Endangered Species Act."  The agenda for the conference and associated materials are provided below. 

Full Conference Agenda (PDF)

Glossary of Terms (PDF)

Compliance Options (PDF)

Importance of Healthy Floodplains by NMFS (PDF)

The Importance of Floodplains to Functioning River Ecosystems (PDF)

NMFS FEMA FAQ (PDF)

NMFS RPA #3 (PDF)

Additional Resources (PDF)

The National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS") has issued a final determination (PDF) listing the southern Distinct Population Segment of Pacific eulachon (commonly referred to as "pacific smelt") as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.  Because the pacific smelt has only been listed as a "threatened species," the listing does not result in an immediate prohibition on pacific smelt harvesting.  NMFS can, however, extend such a prohibition via regulation.  And in the final determination NMFS stated that in the future it will be ...

On February 10, 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced its determination that a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petition (PDF 6 MB) to list 83 species of stony coral as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents substantial information indicating that [listing] might be warranted for 82 of the 83 subject species.  See 90-Day Finding (PDF).

If a threatened listing is warranted, NMFS may use its authority under Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act to impose regulatory requirements necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species, including the prohibition of take of any such species without an incidental take permit. 

If any of the species are listed as endangered, they automatically benefit from the Act’s most potent protections: Under Section 7, federal agencies must insure that actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of its designated critical habitat.  Under Section 9, persons are prohibited from taking or harming any endangered coral without first obtaining an incidental take statement under section 7 or an incidental take permit under Section 10.  Furthermore, citizens may bring suit in federal court to enforce the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

Thus, listing of coral could enable environmental groups to sue major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the theory that their emissions cause the unpermitted take of, or harm to species imperiled by climate change.

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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