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How We Protect

To ensure fish get past barriers such as dams and to protect river habitat, NOAA:

  • Requires a passage at hydropower dams to allow fish to migrate to and from spawning grounds.
  • Recommends conditions in dam licenses to protect fish and wildlife from dam operations.
  • Works with federal agencies to ensure the activities they permit do not harm fish habitat or the surrounding watersheds.

The primary authorities that NOAA Fisheries uses to accomplish these goals include the Federal Power Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and the Essential Fish Habitat provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Federal Power Act The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s process of licensing or re-licensing a hydropower project triggers NOAA’s authority under the Federal Power Act. The resulting license conditions govern the operations of the hydropower project for 30 to 50 years. In some cases during this process we protect fish and their habitat by requiring improved fish passage at dams, and by recommending conditions to the license that will protect or improve habitat and fish population.

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act gives NOAA an important advisory role to review and comment on proposed federally permitted activities that could affect living marine resources.

Magnuson-Stevens Act In cases where federally permitted activities are proposed in an area designated as essential fish habitat (EFH), or where the activities might affect EFH, we might provide the federal agency with a consultation to minimize the effects of the activity on essential fish habitat.