Endangered Species Act Scientific Research Permits

Under Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA, NOAA Fisheries may issue permits for scientific research purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of endangered or threatened species. Permitted research activities must not operate to the disadvantage of the listed species and must provide a bona fide and necessary or desirable scientific purpose. Research permits include conditions necessary to minimize and monitor the impacts of the proposed activities. Possession of a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit should be regarded as a privilege in that NOAA Fisheries must balance permit issuance with its duties to protect and recover listed species.

In NOAA Fisheries 4(d) rules for threatened salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon, the agency applied take prohibitions to all actions except those within specific “limits” to the rules where the specified categories of activities contribute to conserving listed species. The 4(d) rules provide an exemption for scientific research and monitoring activities conducted by employees or contractors of the California, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington state fisheries agencies, or as a part of a research and monitoring program overseen by or coordinated with that Agency. The 4(d) research limit provides a way for NOAA Fisheries and the state fisheries agencies to coordinate and review research proposals. The state fishery agency screens all research applications and then works with NOAA Fisheries to ensure authorized research does not operate to the disadvantage of the listed species.

NOAA Fisheries’ research permits website, Authorizations and Permits for Protected Species (APPS), is designed to assist researchers in obtaining approval to conduct scientific research and monitoring activities of marine species, anadromous species, and other fish and invertebrates. 

Geographic Area Type of Scientific Research Permit Contact
California Sec. 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research authorizations/permits

Shivonne Nesbit



California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho Sec. 4(d) scientific research authorizations

Gary Rule



Willamette River, Lower Columbia River, and Oregon Coast Sec. 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research permits

Claire McGrath



Snake River and Interior Columbia River Sec. 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research permits

Robert Clapp



Puget Sound and Washington Coast Sec. 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research permits

Mitch Dennis