Public Display Permit
Do I need a public display permit?
You need a public display permit if you want to:
- Capture marine mammals from the wild
- Import marine mammals (What about exports?)
- Obtain “releasable” rehabilitated marine mammals
Do I need a scientific research permit for research on public display animals?
- No, if you are doing non-intrusive research
- Yes, if you are conducting intrusive research
Note: For captive animals, intrusive research includes activities that, in the reasonable judgment of the attending veterinarian, would constitute a risk to the health or welfare of the captive animal.
Do I need a permit for enhancement activities on public display animals?
Yes, if your activities are to enhance the survival or recovery of a marine mammal species or stock or to retain non-releasable ESA-listed marine mammals. Examples of enhancement activities are captive breeding for release to the wild and head start programs (e.g., Hawaiian monk seals). Enhancement does not include captive breeding to sustain a captive population for public display purposes.
When should I apply?
- To import marine mammals – at least 6 months in advance of import
- To obtain "releasable" rehabilitated marine mammals – at least 6 months before transfer
Note: The MMPA permit to obtain "releasable" rehabilitated animals does not require stranding centers to provide animals to Permit Holders. It is the responsibility of the Permit Holders to establish partnerships with stranding centers in order to obtain animals.
- To capture marine mammals from the wild – at least 12 months in advance of planned captures
Note: The last request for a collection permit was received in 1988. An application for collection may be considered controversial and the appropriateness of an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA will need to be considered.
|Review of application for completeness||30-90* days|
|Initial NEPA determination; if necessary, a document is drafted|
|» EA||» 30-60 days|
|» EIS||» 365 days (1 year)|
|Federal Register public comment period||30 days|
|Applicant responds to comments received||60 days|
|Finalize NEPA analysis and Permit Decision||30-60 days|
*If NMFS requires information during the review or processing of an application, the information must be provided within 60 days or the application may be considered abandoned or withdrawn.
How do I apply?
Permits and Conservation Division
Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries
1315 East-West Highway, Suite 13705
Silver Spring, MD 20910
You must include one signed original and one electronic copy either via CD or via email (call our office at 301-427-8401 for an email contact).
Permit applications for scientific research or enhancement of marine mammals are available on our permits page.
No, you do not need a permit to export marine mammals for public display purposes. However, the receiving facility must demonstrate that they meet comparable standards. Please note that species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or depleted under the MMPA may not be exported.
Comparable standards means standards that are similar to those that a facility in the U.S. must meet, which include:
- Offering an education or conservation program based on standards of the U.S. public display community;
- Obtaining a letter from the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which indicates that the facility meets comparable Animal Welfare Act (AWA) standards; and
- Maintaining facilities that are open to the public.
In addition, the appropriate agency of the foreign government (e.g., the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) management authority of the government) must submit a statement to the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources certifying that:
- The information submitted is accurate;
- The government’s laws and regulations permit that the enforcement of requirements equivalent to the requirements of the MMPA and AWA, and that government will enforce such requirements; and
- The government will act upon requests made by NOAA Fisheries should the foreign facility act in a manner inconsistent with the requirements of the MMPA, AWA, or the foreign government’s comparable laws.
- The USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has jurisdiction over animal care and maintenance for all marine mammals held for public display purposes under the Animal Welfare Act. Applications for public display permits are forwarded to APHIS for review concurrently with the public comment period.
- The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC): The MMC was established under the MMPA to provide independent oversight of the marine mammal conservation policies and programs being carried out by federal regulatory agencies. Applications for public display permits are forwarded to the MMC for review concurrently with the public comment period.
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is a multinational agreement to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Management Authority is responsible for implementing CITES in the U.S. Import and export of species listed under this agreement will require CITES permits.
Updated: September 5, 2012