Permits & Authorizations

Permits or other forms of authorization are required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to conduct activities that may result in the "take" of a protected species. The MMPA established a moratorium on the taking (harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect) of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, as well as the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S. Exceptions to the moratorium can be made through permitting actions for take incidental to commercial fishing and other non-fishing activities; for scientific research; and for public display at licensed institutions such as aquaria and science centers.

The ESA provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened, as well as the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. The listing of a species as endangered under the ESA makes it illegal to "take" (harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to do these things) that species. Similar prohibitions may extend to species listed as threatened under the ESA. Section 10 of the ESA allows NOAA Fisheries Service to issue permits for direct take [Section 10(a)(1)(A)] and incidental take [Section 10(a)(1)(B)]. A Section 10 direct take permit allows the holder to take a listed species for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of listed species. A Section 10 incidental take permit allows the holder to take a listed species when the action involved is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Incidental take permits must be accompanied by a conservation plan, often referred to as a habitat conservation plan.

In many cases, permits and authorizations require consultation under the Endangered Species Act.  Learn more...