Of all the species NOAA Fisheries protects under the Endangered Species Act, we consider eight among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. For some, their numbers are so low that they need to be bred in captivity; others are facing human threats that must be addressed to prevent their extinction. The "Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive" initiative was launched in 2015 to bring greater attention and marshal resources to save these highly at-risk species:
Atlantic salmon Gulf of Maine distinct population segment (DPS).
Central California Coast coho salmon evolutionarily significant unit (ESU).
Cook Inlet beluga whale DPS.
Hawaiian monk seal.
Pacific leatherback sea turtle.
Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon ESU.
Southern resident killer whale DPS.
These eight species were selected because they all are listed as endangered, their populations are declining, and they are considered a recovery priority #1. A recovery priority #1 species is one whose extinction is almost certain in the immediate future because of rapid population decline or habitat destruction. Additionally, it is a species that conflicts with construction, other developmental projects, or other forms of economic activity. We understand the limiting factors and threats to these species, and we know that the necessary management actions have a high probability of success. Our goal is to focus our recovery actions and motivate partners and interested citizens to work with us on these actions to turn this situation around.
This initiative is a strategic approach to endangered species recovery that involves targeted resources and intensive human efforts to stabilize species’ populations. For each species, we have developed 5-year action plans that outline short-term efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction.
Various activities implemented by NOAA Fisheries and its partners include:
Protecting and restoring habitat.
Encouraging community stewardship and citizen science.
Reducing manmade threats such as entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, and noise pollution.
Breeding species in captivity.
Cooperating with other nations.