On August 21st, ASBPA – together with our friends at Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association – submitted comments to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) on how to streamline National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) permitting and regulatory process.
As many of our members well know, coastal restoration and resilience projects, particularly those in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern United States, are often delayed and incur additional expenses due to backlogs and delays in NMFS regulatory and review processes. These extended delays and excessively long consultations are directly related to the federal government’s attempt to comply with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For several years, ASBPA has been working with NMFS Protected Resources Division (PRD) staff to identify the underlying causes of these delays and excessively long consultation time periods. We have found three primary causes: a) an underfunded agency; b) a culture of risk aversion that has led to too many individual consultations, and c) overly bureaucratic protocols.
Our comments address each of these causes, and make specific recommendations to address them. Our solutions range from allowing states to fund NMFS permit review staff to expedite reviews, to requiring regular updates to programmatic biological opinions (BOs), to removing layers of legal approvals, and more. Fixing NMFS regulatory does not have a silver bullet solution, but we believe combining many small solutions could significantly improve the process.
ASBPA Comments on Streamlining NMFS Regulatory Processes (PDF – 127kb)