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U.S. and International Programs

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources (OPR), in cooperation with its regional offices, science centers, and national and international partners, manages the following programs:

Conservation, Protection, and Recovery

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) mandate protections for marine mammals and threatened and endangered marine life. PR carries out those mandates by cooperating with partners to conserve, protect, and recover protected marine life.

Human Impacts

PR addresses human impacts on protected marine species, such as accidental capture in fishing gear, ocean sound, ship strikes, and habitat loss. In addition, marine mammals may have an effect on human activities or property. NMFS, in collaboration with other Federal and state officials, has prepared initial information for deterring pinnipeds.

International Cooperation

In an effort to conserve protected marine resources, it is important to consider the migratory nature of some protected species. Domestic conservation efforts for migratory species are more successful when undertaken in cooperation and collaboration with other countries. PR collaborates with the Office of International Affairs on numerous international activities to improve the protection and conservation of species that cross outside of U.S. waters. More information can be found on our website:

Marine Mammal Health and Stranding

The Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program responds to marine mammals that have washed ashore (stranded) along the coast of the U.S. The program also assesses trends in marine mammal health and how these trends correlate with environmental data.

Protected Species Assessment Program

The Protected Species Assessment Program is composed of two parts. The Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Program, established primarily under Marine Mammal Protection Act, provides information on the population dynamics of marine mammals. Key aspects of the assessment program are to:

Results of assessment activities are peer-reviewed within NMFS and by one or more of three independent Scientific Review Groups established under the MMPA. The most commonly used products of the assessment program are Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports.

Another part of the program, for species listed under the Endangered Species Act, conducts additional assessments to provide the information necessary to key conservation programs, including:

The Protected Species Assessment Program is one component of NOAA's Ecosystem Assessment Program (EAP), which is the observational and assessment backbone for all living marine resource-related activities within NOAA.