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The Endangered Species Act at 50

May 19, 2023

NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit celebrates 50 years of the Endangered Species Act and discusses why it is such a foundational law.

Gray whale breaches, or leaps up and out of the water, with mountains in the background. Gray whale breaching. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Merrill Gosho.

In 1973, with wide bipartisan support, Congress passed and the president signed the Endangered Species Act, one of the most powerful conservation laws in history. On this episode, we celebrate the ESA as it approaches its 50th anniversary, with Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries.

Two Hawaiian monk seals looking at each other upwards in the waters.
Two Hawaiian monk seals play in the waters off Manawai in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Credit: NOAA Fisheries (Permit #PMNM-2018-001)

NOAA Fisheries is one of the two federal agencies responsible for the protection, conservation and recovery of species listed under the Act. As we'll hear, despite threats to these species survival—whether it be a historic practice like whaling or recent challenges created by climate change—since its signing, less than 1 percent of the species listed under the Act have gone extinct.

It's a heartening success rate made possible by the law's focus on science and the strength it gives the agency in issuing regulations and policy. At NOAA Fisheries, we are proud to work to prevent extinction and recover species that are on the brink under the Endangered Species Act. 

Last updated by Office of Communications on May 09, 2024

Endangered Species Act