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Informal Consultation

Under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries when any action the agency carries out, funds, or authorizes may affect either a species listed as threatened or endangered under the Act, or any critical habitat designated for it. If the Federal agency taking the action (referred to as the “action agency” under section 7) determines that the project is Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA) listed species and/or critical habitat, they submit an informal consultation request to NOAA Fisheries (referred to as the “Consulting Agency under section 7) for concurrence. NOAA Fisheries will provide a Letter of Concurrence to the action agency if it agrees with the action agency’s NLAA determination. NOAA Fisheries will provide written concurrence or non-concurrence with the Federal agency's determination within 60 days once they receive enough information to make a determination. Once the concurrence letter is issued, the consultation process is terminated, and no further action is necessary. An NLAA determination is the appropriate conclusion to be made when effects on ESA listed species and/or critical habitat are expected to be extremely unlikely to occur, insignificant (so small they cannot be meaningfully measured, detected or evaluated), or wholly beneficial (ALL effects benefit the species and/or critical habitat).

For examples of successful informal consultations, see Technical Guidance