NOAA 2003-003
Contact: Gordon Helm
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) announced a policy today that should help guide states, local, Tribal and foreign governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals in their efforts to restore populations of declining species before they require the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts (PECE) will ensure consistent and adequate evaluation of current and future conservation efforts when considering species for addition to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The policy identifies certain criteria that the two agencies will use in determining whether a future or recently implemented conservation effort, such as habitat restoration or protection, has contributed to the long-term survival of a species making listing that species unnecessary, or has contributed to improving the status of a species to the extent that it should be listed as threatened rather than endangered.

“We hope this policy will encourage active conservation efforts before a species and its habitat are critically imperiled. Such efforts will increase the likelihood that simple, cost- effective conservation actions are undertaken to reverse population declines and prevent the need to list some species,” said Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

“By working closely with local governments, individuals and other concerned groups, we can encourage faster, more comprehensive protection for species at risk,” Commerce Secretary Don Evans said. “These conservation efforts will improve our ability to protect marine species before there is a need to list them under the Endangered Species Act.”

In order for a conservation effort to affect the listing decision, the PECE policy requires the agencies to find that the effort is certain to be implemented and sufficiently effective. Such criteria include identification of explicit conservation objectives and dates for achieving them, steps necessary to implement the efforts, and standards for measuring progress.

“I am committed to working closely with states and others to develop conservation efforts that could eliminate the threats to a species before it requires the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” said Bill Hogarth, assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries service. “This policy will let everyone know up-front how NOAA Fisheries and the FWS will evaluate conservation efforts.”

Early conservation efforts have been a valuable tool in eliminating threats to species, preventing the need to add them to the list of threatened and endangered species. Such efforts prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw proposals to list the pecos pupfish in New Mexico and Texas, the Virgin River spinedace in Utah and the southern population of the copperbelly water snake in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.

“States have been working in partnership with the services and other organizations and individuals to conserve candidate species for years. This policy recognizes that they can and do make a real contribution to the long-term survival and recovery of declining species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams.

The services are committed to working closely with states and others to develop conservation efforts that could eliminate the threats to a species before it requires the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the federal aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is the principal steward of the nation’s living marine resources, protecting marine and anadromous species under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). An agency of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Fisheries also regulates the nations commercial and recreational fisheries and conserving and managing marine species under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act throughout federal waters which extend 200 miles from the coastline.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts: