Protected Resources

ESA Section 4: Listings, Critical Habitat, and Recovery

Listings

Under Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) may initiate status reviews of marine species. Also, any U.S. citizen or organization may petition us to list a species as "threatened" or "endangered", reclassify a species, or to revise critical habitat under the ESA.

For more information on the ESA Section 4 listing process, please see the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources' ESA Section 4 listing page


False Killer WhalesFalse Killer Whales, Photo: RWBaird

Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale
On October 1, 2009, a petition to list the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) under the ESA was received from the Natural Resources Defense Council. NOAA Fisheries listed the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale as an endangered distinct population segment on November 28, 2012 (77 FR 70915).

For more information, please visit our False Killer Whale page.




Acropora Donei, Photo: NOAA L. SmithAcropora Donei, Photo: NOAA L. Smith

Coral
On October 20, 2009, a petition to list 83 species of coral under the ESA was received from the Center for Biological Diversity.

For more information, please visit our Coral page.






Bumphead ParrotfishBumphead Parrotfish, Photo: J.E.Maragos

Bumphead Parrotfish
On January 4, 2010, a petition to list the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) under the ESA was received from WildEarth Guardians. On November 7, 2012, a Not Warranted 12-month finding was published in the Federal Register announcing that listing the bumphead parrotfish as either threatened or endangered under the ESA is not warranted (77 FR 66799).

For more information, please visit our Bumphead Parrotfish page.




Scalloped Hammerhead SharkScalloped Hammerhead Shark,
Photo: Dr. Jill Zamzow

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
On August 14, 2011, a petition to list the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) under the ESA was received from WildEarth Guardians.

For more information, please visit our Scalloped Hammerhead Shark page.






Green Sea TurtleGreen Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle
On February 16, 2012, NOAA Fisheries received a petition from the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs to classify the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Hawaii as a distinct population segment (DPS) and delist this DPS under the ESA. On April 6, 2016, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule to remove the current range-wide listing of the green sea turtle and, in its place, list eight DPSs as threatened and three DPSs as endangered (final rule). Although we find that the Hawaiian green turtle population (referred to in the final rule as the Central North Pacific population) does constitute a DPS, we do not find that removing this population from the ESA is warranted. All green sea turtles in the Pacific Islands Region are protected by the ESA and remain protected under the final rule.

For more information, please visit our Green Sea Turtle page.



Great White Shark, Photo: Marine Conservation Science InstituteGreat White Shark, Photo: Marine
Conservation Science Institute

 

Great White Shark
On June 25 and August 13, 2012, two petitions to list the Northeastern Pacific (NEP) population of great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) as either endangered or threatened under the ESA were received from WildEarth Guardians and jointly from Oceana, Center for Biological Diversity, and Shark Stewards, respectively.

For more information, please visit our Great White Shark page.



Amphiprion perculaAmphiprion percula
Photo: Francesco De Marchi

Reef Fish
On September 14, 2012, a petition to list eight species of pomacentrid reef fish under the ESA was received from the Center for Biological Diversity. The only species with a positive 90-day finding was the orange clownfish.

For more information, please visit our Reef Fish page.






Humphead WrasseHumphead Wrasse, Photo: J.E. Maragos

Humphead Wrasse
On October 31, 2012, a petition to list the humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) under the ESA was received from WildEarth Guardians. For more information, please visit our humphead wrasse page.

Additional information about humphead wrasse can be found on NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources page here.





Great Hammerhead SharkGreat Hammerhead Shark, Photo: NOAA

Great Hammerhead Shark
A December 21, 2012, petition and a March 15, 2013, petition to list the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) under the ESA were received from WildEarth Guardians and Natural Resources Defense Council, respectively.

For more information, please visit our Great Hammerhead Shark page.





Whale SharkWhale Shark, Photo: NOAA

Whale Shark
On December 21, 2012, a petition to list the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) as either endangered or threatened under the ESA was received from WildEarth Guardians.

For more information, please visit our Whale Shark page.






Humpback Whale, Photo: NOAAHumpback Whale, Photo: NOAA

Humpback Whale
On April 17, 2013, a petition to classify the North Pacific humpback whale population as a distinct population segment (DPS) and delist the DPS under the ESA was received from the Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc. On February 26, 2014, a second petition was received from the State of Alaska to list the Central North Pacific humpback whale population as a DPS and delist the DPS under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our Humpback Whale page.



Porites EridaniPorites Eridani

81 Multi Species
On July 15, 2013, a petition to list 81 marine species or populations under the ESA was received from WildEarth Guardians.

For more information, please visit our 81 multi species page.






Alopias vulpinusAlopias vulpinus

Common Thresher Shark
On August 26, 2014, we received a petition from Friends of Animals to list the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our common thresher shark page.






Alopias superciliosusAlopias superciliosus

Bigeye Thresher Shark
On April 27, 2015, we received a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus) under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our bigeye thresher shark page.






Sphyrna zygaenaSphyrna zygaenaSmooth Hammerhead Shark
On April 27, 2015, we received a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our smooth hammerhead shark page.







Carcharhinus longimanusCarcharhinus longimanus

Oceanic Whitetip Shark
On September 21, 2015, we received a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our oceanic whitetip shark page.





Manta birostris, Photo: Ken ZnezickManta birostris, Photo: Ken Znezick

Manta Rays
On November 10, 2015, we received a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the giant manta ray (Manta birostris), reef manta ray (Manta alfredi), and the Caribbean manta ray (Manta c.f. birostris) under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our manta ray page.






Nautilus pompilius, Photo: Gregory BarordNautilus pompilius, Photo: Gregory Barord

Chambered Nautilus
On May 31, 2016, we received a petition from Center for Biological Diversity to list the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our chambered nautilus page.

                  





Thunnus orietalis, Photo: Danilo CedroneThunnus orientalis, Photo: Danilo Cedrone

Pacific Bluefin Tuna
On June 20, 2016, we received a petition from Center for Biological Diversity et al. to list the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

For more information, please visit our Pacific bluefin tuna page.

 






Colorful photo of multiple giant clams of unknown species taken in Kingman Reef, part of the Line Islands which is a U.S. Pacific Island Territory.Giant clams in Kingman Reef, U.S. Pacific Island Territory. Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Kevin Lino

Giant Clams
On August 7, 2016, we received a petition to list the Tridacninae giant clams (excluding Tridacna rosewateri) as threatened or endangered under the ESA, and to designate critical habitat concurrently with listing the species.

For more information, please visit our Giant Clams page.

 






Illustration of a leatherback sea turtle.Illustration of a leatherback sea turtle. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Leatherback Sea Turtle
On September 20, 2017, we received a petition from Blue Water Fishermen’s Association to identify the Northwest Atlantic leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) as a distinct population segment and list it as threatened under the ESA. The species is currently listed as endangered throughout its range.

For more information, please visit our leatherback sea turtle page.




Critical Habitat

When NOAA Fisheries lists a species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we are required to designate critical habitat, if prudent and determinable. By ESA definition, critical habitat refers to an area that contains habitat features that are essential for the survival and recovery of a listed species, and which may require special management considerations or protections. Critical habitat may include areas that are not currently occupied by the species but will be needed for its recovery.

Under the ESA, Federal agencies must take precautions to ensure that activities that they fund, authorize (permit) or carry out are not likely to "destroy or adversely modify" these areas (as a result of federally funded or authorized activities). For more information on critical habitat, please see the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources' ESA Section 4 Critical Habitat page.

Hawaiian monk seal in swimming in water

Hawaiian Monk Seal

On August 21, 2015, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule revising Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat (80FR 50925). This was in response to a July 9th, 2008 petition to revise designated critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal was received from three conservation groups. The 12-month finding announcing our intention to revise Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat was published in the Federal Register on June 12th, 2009 (74 FR 27988). On June 2, 2011 NOAA Fisheries announced the proposed revision to Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat in the Federal Register (76 FR 32026).

For more information on the Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat revision, please visit our Critical Habitat page.

Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale

On July 24, 2018, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whales (MHI IFKWs) in waters from 45 meters to 3,200 meters (49 to 3,500 yards) in depth surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands (from Ni‘ihau to Hawai‘i Island). This designation does not include most bays, harbors, or coastal in-water structures. Within this larger proposed area, NOAA Fisheries excluded 10 areas from the designation due to economic and national security impacts. In addition, two areas are ineligible for designation because they are managed under the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, which benefits MHI IFKWs. The total area includes approximately 49,948km² (19,280 mi²) of marine habitat.

For more information and supporting documents:

Map of the final critical habitat designation:


Recovery

Section 4(f) of the ESA requires NOAA Fisheries to develop and implement recovery plans for ESA-listed species. For information on the Hawaiian monk seal Recovery Plan, please visit our Hawaiian Monk Seal page: http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/PRD/prd_hms_index.html.

Other ESA Section 4 Activities

The ESA Section 4 Program also includes Species of Concern. For information on the Pacific Islands Region's Species of Concern, please visit our Species of Concern page: http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/PRD/prd_species_of_concern.html.