Monk Seals Save the Beach!
The much anticipated proposal from the National Marine Fishery Services to protect shorelines and nearshore waters as habitat critical to the survival of monk seals was finally released today. The proposed shoreline protections--called "critical habitat"--are the result of a petition filed by KAHEA and the amazing folks over at the Center for Biological Diversity, as well as the voices and support of individuals around the islands advocating for monk seal critical habitat.
We were happily surprised!
With a few key exceptions for the Navy (grrrr...) and certain bays and harbors, the overwhelming majority of Hawai'i's shores are on the proposed list for protection from government permits and actions that would destroy them. This means the U.S. government cannot do things on these beaches -- like build a Federal highway -- that would impair the quality of these resources for monk seal survival. So, critical habitat = good for monk seals, and good for everyone else who like go beach. Critical habitat does NOT restrict recreational and subsistence access to the beach!
This is a win-win for the seals and for the people who love to use the beach for surfing, fishing, diving, etc.
Public hearings will be announced soon and the comment deadline is set for August 31st. You can email NMFS directly at: http://www.regulations.gov (ref: 0648-BA81).
Please drop them a note and let them know you support finally taking this important, substantive step towards saving the seal and the ocean.
You can join the amazing hui of people working to protect monk seals by signing the "Recovery is Possible" petition today!
To learn more:
KHON 2 News Story, June 2, 2011
Read the actual proposed rule (with maps and descriptions of places proposed for critical habitat protection)
(photo credit: NOAA)