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Listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) may initiate status reviews of species. Any U.S. citizen or organization may petition us to list a species as "threatened" or "endangered", reclassify a species, or to revise critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). When we are petitioned to list a species, we must meet statutory deadlines, as detailed below.
The following steps address the listing process, though reclassifications and revisions of critical habitat follow a similar process:
- If a petition to list a species presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted, NMFS will initiate a status review, announcing this in a Federal Register notice within 90 days from the date of the petition.
- If the petition does not present substantial information, NMFS will publish a negative 90-day finding denying the petition in a Federal Register notice.
- If the information in a petition is substantial, NMFS conducts a status review of the species (this is the first step taken when we initiate our own status review).
- If, after reviewing the best available scientific and commercial information and considering ongoing conservation efforts, NMFS determines that the listing is warranted, we must publish a 12-month finding in the Federal Register (a proposed rule) within one year of the date of the petition, proposing to list the species as threatened or endangered. Comments are solicited from the public, and one or more public hearings may be held.
- If NMFS determines that the listing is not warranted, we publish a 12-month finding in the Federal Register, stating that listing is not warranted.
- After publishing a proposed rule, NMFS considers the public comments and any new information that may become available, and within another year, publishes a final determination on whether to list the species.
- Lists of petitioned species awaiting 90-day findings, candidate species for ESA-listing, and species currently listed under the ESA can be found on our website. In addition, lists of previously petitioned species with negative 90-day findings (denied petitions) can also be found on our website.
- A species must be listed if it is threatened or endangered due to any of the following five factors:
- present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
- overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
- disease or predation;
- inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
- other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
- The ESA requires that listing determinations be based solely on the best scientific and commercial information available. It prohibits the consideration of economic impacts in making species listing determinations.
- When listing a species, NMFS must also designate critical habitat for the species no later than a year after the final listing, as long as it is prudent to do so and critical habitat is determinable. Economic impacts must be considered when designating critical habitat.
- When a species is listed as endangered, section 9 take prohibitions are automatically extended to it. When a species is listed as threatened, we must issue protective regulations under section 4(d) of the ESA in order to extend any take prohibitions to the species.
- Petitioned Species Awaiting 90-day Findings
- Species Being Considered For Listing under the ESA ("Candidate Species")
- Species Already Listed Under the ESA
Updated: September 13, 2012