Delisting Species Under the Endangered Species Act
Delisting means to remove a species from the list of threatened and endangered species under the ESA. Learn more about how this process works.
When we remove a species that was formerly listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we “delist” that species.
We remove species from the lists of endangered and threatened species for three reasons:
- The species has recovered to the point that it no longer needs the ESA’s protection.
- The original information warranting listing has been shown to be incorrect, or new information suggests that the species is not actually endangered or threatened.
- The species has become extinct.
According to the ESA, when a species recovers and is delisted, it must be monitored where it occurs for at least five years. Generally, NOAA Fisheries develops a post-delisting monitoring plan to ensure that the species’ status does not deteriorate. If new threats emerge or an unforeseen change means the species again needs the ESA’s protections, NOAA Fisheries can list it again (see section 4 of the ESA).
Steller Sea Lion
The Eastern distinct population segment (DPS) of the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) was listed under the ESA in 1990. In 2013, the Eastern DPS of Steller sea lion was delisted and designated as recovered. There is a post-delisting monitoring plan for this population segment to ensure its continued recovery.
Caribbean Monk Seal
The Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) was listed under the ESA in 1967. In 2008, the species was delisted and declared extinct.
The Eastern North Pacific DPS of the gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) was listed under the ESA in 1970. The Eastern North Pacific DPS was delisted in 1994 and designated as recovered. At the time, a five year plan to monitor and research this gray whale DPS was developed.
The Puget Sound/Georgia Basin DPS of the canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) was listed under the ESA in 2010. This DPS was delisted in 2017 because newer data indicated it does not meet the statutory definition of a species.
The coral Siderastrea glynni was listed under the ESA in 2015. This species was delisted in 2021 because new data indicated that it was not a valid taxonomic species and therefore not eligible for listing under the ESA.
Johnson's seagrass was listed under the ESA in 1998. The species was delisted in 2022, because newly obtained genetic data demonstrated that Johnson's seagrass was not a unique taxon, but rather a clone of an Indo-Pacific species, Halophila ovalis. Therefore, Johnson's seagrass does not qualify for listing under the ESA.
Species Under Review or Proposed for Delisting
Sometimes, we are petitioned to delist a species that is listed as threatened or endangered; sometimes, we review its status on our own. Either way, the process is the same as the listing process, conducted through rulemaking with public input.
**Currently there are no species under review or proposed for delisting.