In November, we launched Version 2.0 of the Section 7 Mapper, a new mapping tool that shows where threatened and endangered species are in New England and Mid-Atlantic waters. This tool helps people planning activities in our waters to understand where endangered marine species are and at what times of year.
Why did we build this tool?
Busy Oceans and Coasts
Coastal areas are humming with action. Ports, docks, piers, moorings, and marinas dot our shores and bays. Bridges span our rivers, barges sail up rivers to inland ports, and undersea cables criss-cross the ocean bottom. Vessels—ranging from enormous container ships and cruise ships to small recreational fishing boats and jet-skis—traverse our coastal and offshore waters daily.
People are constantly building structures, dredging shallow areas, restoring rivers and coastal habitats, replenishing beaches, and researching new sources of energy.
Underneath, around, and in between all these activities swim threatened and endangered fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals that live, feed, and grow there.
Projects Change Habitat
Human activities add noise, sediment, pollutants, and pressure to ocean habitats. They also displace these animals from spaces they use for breeding, egg-laying, nurseries, feeding, and other activities.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires federal agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, the Navy, and even other parts of NOAA, to consult with NOAA Fisheries on projects or activities they are planning, funding, or permitting that may affect a threatened or endangered marine species or its critical habitat. This is called a “Section 7 Consultation.”