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Consulting with Federal Agencies (ESA Section 7)

Overview

Federal agencies are directed, under section 7(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), to utilize their authorities to carry out programs for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. Federal agencies must also consult with NMFS, under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, on activities that may affect a listed species.

These interagency consultations, or section 7 consultations, are designed to assist Federal agencies in fulfilling their duty to ensure Federal actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of a species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.

Should an action be determined by NMFS to jeopardize a species or adversely modify critical habitat, NMFS will suggest Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) that would not violate section 7(a)(2).

Biological Opinions

Biological opinions document NMFS' opinion as to whether the Federal action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Where appropriate, biological opinions provide an exemption for the "take" of listed species while specifying the extent of take allowed, the Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs) necessary to minimize impacts from the Federal action, and the Terms and Conditions with which the action agency must comply.

NMFS also follows additional policies, guidance, and regulations associated with Section 7.

More Information

Updated: February 19, 2014