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Foreign Species

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we must list species as endangered or threatened regardless of where they are found. If a species occurs exclusively in foreign waters, we refer to it as a "foreign species." To date, there are 65 listed foreign species under NMFS jurisdiction.

How are foreign species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?

The listing process for a foreign species is no different than the listing process for any other species under the ESA.

How are foreign species protected by the ESA?

Benefits of ESA protection to foreign species are primarily realized in the form of restrictions on trade and may include prohibitions on certain activities including import, export, take, commercial activity, interstate commerce, and foreign commerce. 

In addition, listing under the ESA can also increase global awareness of the threats faced by the species, which may fuel conservation efforts for the species in its range countries.

Is critical habitat designated for foreign species?

No, we cannot designate critical habitat in foreign waters. We can only designate critical habitat in waters under U.S. jurisdiction.

Endangered and Threatened Foreign Species under NMFS' Jurisdiction

Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles

Other Marine Reptiles



Updated: September 19, 2017