Reports for Protected Species Permits

A description of annual and final reports for scientific research, enhancement, and commercial photography permits for marine mammals and certain ESA species.

Most permits issued for species protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and/or the Endangered Species Act require the permit holder to submit reports.

Check your permit to determine when, what, and how you must report.  Contact your permit analyst if you have questions.

If you were able to apply for your permit using APPS, our online system, we recommend you use APPS to submit your report.

Applicable Permit Types

Below is the description of the annual and final report, if you have one of the following permits:

  • Scientific research or enhancement permit for marine mammals, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, sea turtles, or sawfish.
  • Letter of Confirmation under the General Authorization (that authorizes Level B harassment of marine mammals).
  • Commercial or educational photography permit for marine mammals.

If you have a different type of permit, please refer to your permit or contact the office that issued your permit for report guidance. 


Each year, you must submit an annual report that is composed of 2 parts: a tabular section and a narrative section. You will receive an automatic email reminding you when your report is due.  Keep in mind that reports are a requirement of your permit.  Failure to submit a report on time could mean that your permit is suspended.

Annual Report: Tabular Section

For the first part of your annual report, you will be asked to report how many animals you took.  If completing your report in APPS, you will see your take table and the number of animals you were authorized over the year.  Next to that, you will enter how many animals you actually took for those activities.

For example, perhaps you were authorized to capture 45 shortnose sturgeon during the year and you only caught 22.  Or you were authorized to biopsy sample 20 blue whales and you sampled 14 during the year.

Annual Report: Narrative Section

For the narrative part, you will be asked to answer the questions below.  Provide complete answers to the best of your ability.  If a question is not applicable, explain why.  We acknowledge that monitoring during and after certain activities is often opportunistic.  

1.  What progress did you make toward meeting your objectives this year?  Summarize what you did and if and how you met your objectives.  List citations for any reports, publications, and presentations from this reporting period.  We may request electronic copies. (10,000 characters maximum)


2.  Summarize how animals reacted to specific activities.  Include normal and abnormal responses of target and non-target animals.  Where possible, provide quantitative data and estimate the proportion of animals (%) that had those reactions. (64,000 characters maximum)


3.  Explain your efforts to conduct follow-up monitoring.  Report your findings.  Photographs are useful to document things like wound healing.  (64,000 characters maximum)

We are especially interested in:

  • animal responses to new/novel procedures
  • time it takes to resume normal in-water behavior after harassment
  • time it takes to re-populate rookeries or haul outs after harassment
  • condition of animals when resighted or recaptured
  • recovery from sedation and handling and post-release behavior
  • healing at site of intrusive sampling (e.g., biopsy)
  • healing at site of intrusive tag deployment (e.g., surgical tag implants requiring sutures, remotely deployed dart/barb, fully implantable, medial ridge, and pygal tags)
  • tag retention and tag breakage


4.  Did serious injuries or mortalities occur or did you take a protected species you were not permitted to take?  If so, and you already submitted an incident report, please briefly describe the event here and refer to the incident report. (10,000 characters maximum)


If such an incident occurred and you have not yet reported it, provide a full description of the incident (date and location of event; species and circumstances of how the take occurred; photographs; necropsy and histopathology reports, or other information to confirm cause of death or extent of injuries; etc.).  Also, include steps that were or will be taken to reduce the possibility of it happening again. (10,000 characters maximum)


5.  Describe any other problems encountered during this reporting period and steps taken or proposed to resolve them.  Examples include equipment failure, weather delays, safety issues, and unanticipated effects to habitats or other species. (10,000 characters maximum)


6.  What efforts did you make to coordinate with the applicable NMFS Regional Office(s) and collaborate with other researchers?  How did you collaborate (for example, avoiding field work at the same time or working together on the same animals, sharing vessels, sharing data)? (10,000 characters maximum)


Final Report

After your permit has expired, you will submit a combined annual/final report.  The report will have a tabular section and the 6 questions above, exactly like an annual report.  In addition, you will be asked to respond to these 5 questions:

7.  Did you meet your objectives for the permit?  What did you learn? (10,000 characters maximum)


8. If you did not meet your objectives, explain why.  For example, if you did not tag or mark as many animals as needed to meet your sample size, explain why and how that impacted your ability to meet the goals of your study. (10,000 characters maximum)


9. For ESA-listed or MMPA-depleted target species:  Explain how the results of your permitted work benefitted or promoted their recovery or conservation.  How did your research contribute to fulfilling Recovery or Conservation Plan objectives (as applicable)?  Explain. (10,000 characters maximum)


10. Did you identify any additional or improved mitigation measures? (10,000 characters maximum)


11.  (Optional) We appreciate any feedback on APPS and your permit.  For example, did you have any problems using APPS?  Were any permit conditions difficult to comply with or unclear?  Were your permitted take numbers appropriate? (10,000 characters maximum)

Submitting Reports

Reports are due on the date listed in your permit.  You will receive a reminder email 30 days before your report is due. 

We highly recommend you submit your report via APPS.

If you choose not to submit your report online, contact your permit analyst for an electronic version of the report form and send your report:

  • By email attachment to your permit analyst. Or
  • By hard copy mailed or faxed to the Chief, Permits Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Suite 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)427-8401; fax (301)713-0376. 


If you have questions about reporting, please contact your permit analyst.  If you're not sure who that is, contact the Permits and Conservation Division at 301-427-8401.