Endangered Species Biennial Report, 2014-2016

November 29, 2017

This Report to Congress summarizes efforts to recover all domestic species under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2016.

A North Atlantic right whale swims at the surface of the ocean

An endangered North Atlantic right whale swims at the surface of the ocean.

This Report to Congress summarizes efforts to recover all domestic species under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2016. It includes a summary table (Table 1 of the report) outlining the status of each species that the Secretary of Commerce found would benefit from having a recovery plan, the status of the recovery plan, and the completion date for the last 5-year review.

With this report, NOAA Fisheries is updating progress made on its strategic approach to endangered species recovery, which focuses agency resources on species for which immediate, targeted efforts are needed to stabilize their populations and prevent extinction. The report highlights recovery progress for the eight species identified in the Species in the Spotlight initiative. They are notable because the best available information points to their extinction in the near future because of rapid population decline or habitat destruction. These species need focused human intervention to stabilize their population declines and prevent their extinction.

During the 2 years covered in this report (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2016), the number of listed species under NOAA Fisheries jurisdiction increased 18 percent. During that period, we managed 93 domestic (includes some transnational) species of salmon, sturgeon, sawfish, seagrass, mollusks, sea turtles, corals, and marine mammals, as well as 54 foreign species. In this report, we address 87 domestic species for which we found that a recovery plan would promote their conservation, including 10 newly listed domestic species. The Endangered Species Act defines a species as “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” The newly listed domestic species include the following:

  • Three humpback whale distinct population segments (DPSs) (two foreign for a total of five listed): Central America and Western North Pacific DPSs listed as endangered and Mexico DPS listed as threatened on September 8, 2016 (81 FR 62259).
  • Six green sea turtle DPSs (five foreign for a total of 11 listed): Eastern Pacific, Central North Pacific, North Atlantic, and South Atlantic DPSs listed as threatened and Central West Pacific and Central South Pacific DPSs listed as endangered on April 2, 2016 (81 FR 20057).
  • Nassau grouper: listed as threatened on June 29, 2016 (81 FR 42268).

Between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2016, of the 87 domestic listed species for which we found that a recovery plan would promote their conservation, 44 had final recovery plans, three had draft recovery plans, 19 had plans in development, and 21 plans had not been started. Because we have many multispecies plans, as well as multiple plans for one species (for example, sea turtles), the number of plans does not directly correspond to the number of species.

The statuses of these 87 species in the 2014–2016 Biennial Report were as follows:

  • 28 (32 percent) were stabilized or increasing.
  • 15 (17 percent) were known to be declining.
  • 12 (14 percent) were mixed, with their status varying by population location.
  • 32 (37 percent) were unknown, because we lacked sufficient trend data to make a determination.

Since the 2012–2014 Biennial Report on population trends, the 2014–2016 percentages reflect a:

  • 4 percent increase in declining trends.
  • 3 percent decrease in increasing trends.
  • 5 percent increase in mixed trends.
  • 6 percent decrease in unknown trends.

Table 1 of the Biennial Report lists the 87 domestic species managed by NOAA Fisheries; the status (unknown, decreasing, mixed, stable, or increasing) of each species, subspecies, evolutionarily significant unit, and DPS; the recovery priority number; the status of the recovery plan; and the completion date of the last 5-year review.

Read the ESA biennial report (PDF, 46 pages).

Recovery of Species

Recovery is the process of restoring species listed under the ESA and their ecosystems to the point that they no longer require ESA protections. A recovery plan serves as a road map for species recovery—it lays out where to go and how to get there. Without a plan to organize, coordinate, and prioritize recovery actions, the efforts by many agencies, nonprofit organizations, tribal entities, stakeholders, and citizens may be inefficient, ineffective, or misdirected. Recovery plans are guidance documents, not regulatory, and the ESA clearly envisions them as the central organizing tool guiding each species’ progress toward recovery.

Learn more about the recovery of species under the ESA

Find recovery plans

Partnerships for Recovery

Recovering threatened and endangered species is a complex and challenging process, but one that offers long-term benefits to the health of our environment and communities.

Recovery actions may require:

  • Restoring or preserving habitat.
  • Minimizing or offsetting the effects of actions that harm species.
  • Enhancing population numbers.
  • A combination of the above.

Many of these actions also help to provide communities with healthier ecosystems, cleaner water, and greater opportunities for recreation, both now and in the future.

Many partners fund and implement the recovery actions discussed in this report. Partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, including private citizens; federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; interested organizations; and industry are critical to achieving species recovery goals.

NOAA programs that directly fund recovery actions include:

  • The Species Recovery Grants to States Program, authorized under section 6 of the ESA, provides grant funding to partnering state agencies to support management, outreach, research, and monitoring projects that have direct conservation benefits for listed species.
  • The Species Recovery Grants to Tribes Program, started by NOAA Fisheries in FY 2010 to support tribally-led recovery efforts that directly benefit listed species.
  • The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, established by Congress in FY 2000 to protect, restore, and conserve Pacific salmon and steelhead populations and their habitats.

Projects funded through these programs often address priority actions identified in recovery plans and thus make important contributions to the recovery of listed species.

How You Can Help

Contact your local NOAA Fisheries regional office, state wildlife agency, or tribal wildlife agency to find out how you can help participate in recovery efforts for local endangered species.

Previous Reports to Congress