Recovery Plan Requirements

The Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), mandates the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of ESA-listed species under NMFS jurisdiction. According to the 2004 NMFS Interim Recovery Planning Guidance:

Recovery is the process by which listed species and their ecosystems are restored and their future safeguarded to the point that protections under the ESA are no longer needed. A variety of actions may be necessary to achieve the goal of recovery, such as the ecological restoration of habitat or implementation of conservation measures with stakeholders. However, without a plan to organize, coordinate and prioritize the many possible recovery actions, the effort may be inefficient or even ineffective. The recovery plan serves as a road map for species recovery – it lays out where we need to go and how best to get there.

In April 2010, NMFS listed yelloweye rockfish as threatened and bocaccio endangered, each comprising a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin. Section 4(f) of the ESA requires NMFS to develop and implement a recovery plan for the conservation and survival of the DPSs, unless such a plan will not promote the conservation of the species.

The Recovery Plan must include:

A description of site-specific management actions that may be necessary to achieve the plan’s goal for the conservation and survival of the DPSs of yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio;

Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio may be removed from the ESA; and

Estimates of the time required and the cost to carry out those measures needed to achieve the plan’s goal and to achieve intermediate steps toward that goal.

In addition, NMFS Recovery Planning Guidelines stipulate that recovery plans must include a concise summary of the current status of the species and its life history, and an assessment of the factors that led to the population decline and/or which are impeding recovery. It is also important that the plan includes a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation program for gauging the effectiveness of recovery measures and overall progress toward recovery. Prior to the approval of any recovery plan, NMFS must provide public notice and an opportunity for public comment.