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Glossary - Terms Related to Permits for Protected Resources

Here are some terms that you might encounter when applying for, or reviewing, permits to work with species under the Endangered Species Act or Marine Mammal Protection Act

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Common Permit Terms

Applicant/Holder

Person, institution, or agency who is ultimately responsible for all activities of any individual who is operating under the authority of a permit.

APPS

Acronym for our online permit application system Authorizations and Permits for Protected Species.

Co-Investigator (CI)

They conduct or directly supervise the conduct of the taking, importing, and exporting activities authorized under the permit as the on-site representative(s) of the Primary Investigator (PI).

Incidental Taking

An unintentional, but not unexpected, taking of a protected species.

Principal Investigator (PI)

The individual primarily responsible for the taking, importation, export, and any related activities conducted under a permit issued for scientific research or enhancement.

Research Assistant (RA)

Any individual working under the direct on-site supervision of the Principal Investigator (PI) and/or Co-Investigator (CI).

Species

Defined as a species, subspecies, distinct population segment (DPS) or Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU), depending on how they were listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Take

Take is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as "to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal" (16 U.S.C. 1362) and further defined by regulation (50 CFR 216.3) as "to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. This includes, without limitation, any of the following:

  • the collection of dead animals, or parts thereof

  • the restraint or detention of a marine mammal, no matter how temporary

  • tagging a marine mammal

  • the negligent or intentional operation of an aircraft or vessel

  • the doing of any other negligent or intentional act which results in disturbing or molesting a marine mammal

  • feeding or attempting to feed a marine mammal in the wild"

Take is defined under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct."

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Endangered Species Act Terms

Anadromous

Species of fish born in freshwater who spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, such as salmon and some species of sturgeon. NOAA Fisheries has jurisdiction over most marine and anadromous fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Biological Opinion

A written statement setting forth the Secretary's opinion and a summary of the information on which the opinion is based, fulfilling the requirements under ESA section 7 for Federal agencies "in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary, to insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat."  Before a permit can be issued, a biological opinion showing the issuance of the permit is not likely to jeopardize any protected species or to destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat is required.

Conservation Plan

The plan required by section 10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA that an applicant must submit when applying for an incidental take permit. Conservation plans also are known as “habitat conservation plans” or “HCPs.”

Distinct Population Segment (DPS)  

A DPS, or a distinct population segment, is a vertebrate population or group of populations that is discrete from other populations of the species and significant in relation to the entire species. The ESA provides for listing species, subspecies, or distinct population segments of vertebrate species.

Endangered

Defined under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU)

An ESU, or evolutionarily significant unit, is a Pacific salmon population or group of populations that is substantially reproductively isolated from other conspecific populations and that represents an important component of the evolutionary legacy of the species. The ESU policy [pdf] (56 FR 58612) for Pacific salmon defines the criteria for identifying a Pacific salmon population as a distinct population segment (DPS), which can be listed under the ESA.

Harm

Included in the ESA definition of “take” and means an act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife. Such an act may include significant habitat modification or degradation which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including, breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding or sheltering.

Import

When applied in reference to the ESA it means to land on, bring into, or introduce into, or attempt to land on, bring into, or introduce into any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, whether or not such landing, bringing, or introduction constitutes an importation within the meaning of the tariff laws of the United States.

Pre-Act Endangered Species Part

Means any sperm whale oil, including derivatives and products thereof, which was lawfully held within the United States on December 28, 1973, in the course of a commercial activity; or any finished scrimshaw product, if such product or the raw material for such product was lawfully held within the United States on December 28, 1973, in the course of a commercial activity.

Scrimshaw product

Any art form which involves the substantial etching or engraving of designs upon, or the substantial carving of figures, patterns, or designs from any bone or tooth of any marine mammal of the order Cetacea. For purposes of this part, polishing or the adding of minor superficial markings does not constitute substantial etching, engraving, or carving.

Take

Defined under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct."

Threatened

Defined under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as "any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range."

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Marine Mammal Protection Act Terms

Bona fide Scientific Research

Scientific research conducted by qualified personnel, the results of which--

  • likely would be accepted for publication in a refereed scientific journal;

  • are likely to contribute to the basic knowledge of marine mammal biology or ecology (this includes, e.g., marine mammal parts in a properly curated, professionally accredited scientific collection); or

  • are likely to identify, evaluate, or resolve conservation problems.

Custody

Holding a live marine mammal per the conditional authority granted under the MMPA, and the responsibility therein for the captive maintenance of the marine mammal.

Enhancement Permits

As defined in the MMPA, they are, "permits issued for the recovery of a species or stock where taking or importation--

  • is likely to contribute significantly to maintaining or increasing distribution or numbers necessary to ensure the survival or recovery of the species or stock; and

  • is consistent with any conservation plan adopted by the Secretary for the species or stock, or if there is no conservation or recovery plan in place, with the Secretary's evaluation of action required to enhance the survival or recovery of the species or stock..."

Facility

In the context specific to captive marine mammals:

  • One or more permanent primary enclosures used to hold marine mammals captive (i.e., pools, lagoons) and associated infrastructure (i.e., equipment and supplies necessary for the care and maintenance of marine mammals) where these enclosures are either located within the boundaries of a single contiguous parcel of land and water, or are grouped together within the same general area within which enclosure-to-enclosure transport is expected to be completed in less than one hour
  • A traveling display/exhibit, where the enclosure(s) and associated infrastructure is transported together with the marine mammals.

Harassment

Under the 1994 Amendments to the MMPA, harassment is statutorily defined as, any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which--

  • (Level A Harassment) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild; or,

  • (Level B Harassment) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering but which does not have the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild.

Humane

The method of taking, import, export, or other activity which involves the least possible degree of pain and suffering practicable to the animal involved.

Import

When applied in reference to the MMPA it means to land on, bring into, or introduce into, or attempt to land on, bring into, or introduce into, any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, whether or not such landing, bringing, or introduction constitutes an importation within the Customs Laws of the U.S., except that, for the purpose of any ban issued under 16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(2) on the importation of fish or fish products, the definition of "import" in 50 CFR §216.24(e)(1)(ii) shall apply.

Intrusive Research

A procedure conducted for bona fide scientific research involving:

  • break in or cutting of the skin or equivalent

  • insertion of an instrument or material into an orifice

  • introduction of a substance or object into the animal's immediate environment that is likely either to be ingested or to contact and directly affect animal tissues (i.e., chemical substances)

  • stimulus directed at animals that may involve a risk to health or welfare or that may have an impact on normal function or behavior (i.e., audio broadcasts directed at animals that may affect behavior)

For captive animals, this definition does not include:

  • A procedure conducted by the professional staff of the holding facility or an attending veterinarian for purposes of animal husbandry, care, maintenance, or treatment, or a routine medical procedure that, in the reasonable judgment of the attending veterinarian, would not constitute a risk to the health or welfare of the captive animal; or

  • A procedure involving either the introduction of a substance or object (i.e., as described in this definition) or a stimulus directed at animals that, in the reasonable judgment of the attending veterinarian, would not involve a risk to the health or welfare of the captive animal.

Marine Mammal Commission

A three-member panel appointed by the President to oversee implementation of the MMPA, and provide scientific advice to the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior. All permit applications for scientific research must be reviewed by the Commission and its 10-member Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals. (https://www.mmc.gov/)

NIMM

Acronym for the National Inventory of Marine Mammals, a national database of marine mammals in captivity.

Parts

Hard parts are any bone, tooth, baleen, treated pelt, or other part of a marine mammal that are relatively solid or durable. Soft parts are any marine mammal part that is not a hard part (such as blood, muscle, blubber, skin, tissue-derived parts such as cell-lines and DNA), excluding urine or fecal material.

Plan of Cooperation 

Required where the proposed activity would take place in or near a traditional Arctic subsistence hunting area and/or may affect the availability of a species or stock of marine mammal for Arctic subsistence uses. The plan must include--

  • statement that the applicant has notified and provided the affected subsistence community with a draft plan of cooperation;

  • schedule for meeting with the affected subsistence communities to discuss proposed activities and to resolve potential conflicts regarding any aspects of either the operation or the plan of cooperation;

  • description of what measures the applicant has taken and/or will take to ensure that proposed activities will not interfere with subsistence whaling or sealing; and,

  • plans the applicant has to continue to meet with the affected communities, both prior to and while conducting the activity, to resolve conflicts and to notify the communities of any changes in the operation.

Public Display

An activity that provides opportunities for the public to view living marine mammals at a facility holding marine mammals captive.

Rehabilitation

Treatment of beached and stranded marine mammals taken under MMPA section 109(h)(1) or imported under MMPA section 109(h)(2) with the intent of restoring a marine mammal's health and, if necessary, behavioral patterns.

Scrimshaw Product

Any art form which involves the substantial etching or engraving of designs upon, or the substantial carving of figures, patterns, or designs from any bone or tooth of any marine mammal of the order Cetacea. For purposes of this part, polishing or the adding of minor superficial markings does not constitute substantial etching, engraving, or carving.

Stock

As defined by the MMPA, the term "stock" means a group of marine mammals of the same species or smaller taxa in a common spatial arrangement, that interbreed when mature.

Stranded Marine Mammal

A marine mammal specimen under the jurisdiction of the Secretary (Secretary of Commerce or authorized representatives). The term "stranding" as defined in the MMPA means an event in the wild in which--

(A) a marine mammal is dead and is-

  • on a beach or shore of the United States
  • in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States (including any navigable waters) 

or

(B) a marine mammal is alive and is-

  • on a beach or shore of the United States and unable to return to the water;

  • on a beach or shore of the United States and, although able to return to the water, is in need of apparent medical attention; or

  • in the waters under the jurisdiction of the United States (including any navigable waters), but is unable to return to its natural habitat under its own power or without assistance

Take

Defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as "to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal" (16 U.S.C. 1362) and further defined by regulation (50 CFR 216.3) as "to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. This includes, without limitation, any of the following:

  • the collection of dead animals, or parts thereof

  • the restraint or detention of a marine mammal, no matter how temporary

  • tagging a marine mammal

  • the negligent or intentional operation of an aircraft or vessel

  • the doing of any other negligent or intentional act which results in disturbing or molesting a marine mammal

  • feeding or attempting to feed a marine mammal in the wild"

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