States Awarded Federal Funds For Endangered Marine Species
For the first time in the history of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Congress has provided funding to NOAA Fisheries for a program to foster state cooperation in national conservation efforts. Sea turtles, sturgeon and sawfish will benefit from the conservation program.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has awarded more than $900,000 to six Atlantic coast states and two territories to conserve and protect threatened and endangered marine species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The funds, which will be matched in a 3:1 cost-share arrangement of state to federal funding, will be used for water borne conservation and research efforts on marine species listed under the act as endangered or threatened along the Atlantic coast and U.S. Caribbean Territories.
Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive funding for work on shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish, and leatherback, loggerhead, Kemps ridley and green sea turtles.
Projects range from gathering information on habitat use, understanding distribution of and tracking movements for sturgeon and sawfish to determining habitat preference, identifying interactions with gillnet fisheries and tracking of sea turtles.
Locally based conservation efforts are an integral part of conserving threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, the agency says. Education of the public about species conservation is a primary component of many projects.
The grants were made available under Section 6 of the act, a mechanism for the federal government to encourage states to further national goals of conserving and protecting marine species. Currently, seven states and two territories are eligible for Section 6 grants.
To submit a grant proposal, the states entered into a cooperative agreement with NOAA Fisheries that demonstrates a commitment to conservation, and an ability to implement and monitor such programs. The funding of these projects was conducted through a competitive proposal process. The projects receiving funding this year will be completed by researchers familiar with conservation issues in their states.
NOAA Fisheries plans to continue and expand the Section 6 program in the future, and welcomes agreements with any state interested in conserving its marine species.