Overview of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Magnuson-Stevens Act Consultations


This one-day overview workshop focuses primarily on the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), including the goals of the Act, and the consultation process used to obtain Letters of Authorization (LOA) and Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs).  In addition, some discussion on how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the MMPA are integrated. The course will also include a discussion on the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) consisting of defining Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), the types of actions which could adversely affect habitat, and the consultation and compliance requirements of the Act. Finally, the course discusses how to incorporate compliance with both Acts into the NEPA process.


Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Identify what animals are protected under the MMPA.

  • Recognize the purpose and goals of both the MMPA and MSA, and how all federal agencies can help achieve those goals.

  • Comprehend how the ESA and MMPA work together to protect listed species.

  • Understand what take and harassment mean under the MMPA – as well as other important terminology unique to these Acts.

  • Know which actions require consultation and authorization of incidental take of marine mammals, and what is required to successfully complete the consultation process to receive LOAs and IHAs.

  • Understand what EFH is and the types of federal actions that could adversely affect it.

  • Know what the Act requires a federal agency to do before taking an action adversely affecting EFH.

  • Realize how to incorporate compliance with both Acts into the NEPA process.


We tailor each workshop to meet the needs of the participants. The basic format of the interactive workshop includes the following components:

  • Review the history of the MMPA, including identifying what marine mammals are protected and why Congress felt the need to pass the Act.

  • Learn the terminology associated with the Acts, and definitions of those terms as applied by the regulating agencies.

  • Discuss the goals of the Acts, and what the regulating agencies expect other federal agencies to do to assist in meeting those goals.

  • Explore the consultation process under the MMPA and what information is required, as well as the length of time it takes to receive an authorization for incidental take of a marine mammal. Additionally, we will discuss the differences between LOAs and IHAs, and what types of actions fall under these permits.

  • Review the roles of USFWS and NMFS as the regulating agencies for the MMPA, and penalties associated with noncompliance.

  • Discuss how MMPA and the ESA work together in protecting listed species.

  • Identify what essential fish habitat is, and why it’s protected.

  • Understand compliance and consultation requirements for the MSA when an agency’s action may adversely affect EFH.

  • Review how to integrate compliance with both Acts into the NEPA process.


Participants for this training generally include resource managers, environmental planners, agency decisionmakers, resource specialists, and others who need an overview of the MMPA and MSA compliance and consultation requirements.


The MMPA and MSA Overview is an interactive workshop designed with both new and experienced resource managers in mind. For optimal learning, class size is limited to 20 participants. This 1-day workshop consists of a carefully designed combination of the following:

  • 80% Lecture

  • 20% Exercises


Participants receive a comprehensive workshop manual designed to support the instruction and to serve as an ongoing reference.