REVITALIZING THE U.S. ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: Optimizing Protection by Integrating Recovery Planning, Section 7 Consultations, and Incidental Take Authorizations - A Sea Turtle Case Study
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Protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act consists of recovery plans, consultations and biological opinions under sections 7 and 10, and incidental take authorizations. To meet the goals of species protection, these three elements must be fully integrated. Harmonizing the management actions identified in the recovery plans with the conservation actions in the biological opinion is crucial to ensure that the jeopardy finding within the biological opinion accounts for all factors influencing a species’ survival. Recovery plans and biological opinions are based on scientific assessments of the characteristics, size, and threats facing populations of listed species; incidental take authorizations incorporate political, social, and economic factors. Often take statements and recovery goals are not reconcilable, yet incidental take continues to be authorized. Amending existing guidance handbooks to synchronize the recovery plan goals with the actions authorized under section 7 consultations is a feasible way to strengthen protection for listed species and facilitate recovery. Using the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shrimp trawl fishery as a case study, this paper provides recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Endangered Species Act protection by amending an Endangered Species Act guidance handbook used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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