Monk seal habitat protection expansion hearings announced

By The Hawaii Independent Staff
The Hawaii Independent
Monk seal habitat protection expansion hearings announced
Monk seal habitat protection expansion hearings announced

A proposal could designate 11,000 square miles as protected monk seal habitat. Photo courtesy of NOAA

HONOLULU— The federal government has announced public hearings in Hawaii about its proposal to designate more than 11,000 square miles of coastal and marine critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals. The proposed rule will protect beaches and coastal waters on all the main Hawaiian Islands and expand protected habitat in the Northwestern Islands. The proposal responds to a 2008 petition filed by the Center for Biological DiversityKAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Ocean Conservancy.

“New habitat protections could be a lifeline for endangered monk seals, protecting Hawaii’s clean beaches and coastal waters,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center.

Studies have shown that endangered wildlife with habitat protections are twice as likely to begin recovery as those without. The proposed rule expands the current critical habitat area for the Hawaiian monk seal in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to include deeper waters. It also designates new areas on all of the main Hawaiian Islands: Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lāna’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui and Hawaii. Areas protected would include coastal land up to five meters inland and waters out to 500 meters in depth, with certain exclusions.

“The hearings are an opportunity to speak up in favor of protecting our beaches and reefs not only for monk seals, but also for Hawaii’s paddlers, fishers, surfers and all people of these islands,” said Marti Townsend of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.

Thursday, August 11 5:30pm-8:00pm)
McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Park
1201 Ala Moana Blvd.

Monday, August 15 (5:30pm-8:00pm)
Mokupapapa Discovery Center
308 Kamehameha Ave., 109

Tuesday, August 16 (6:30pm-9:00pm)
Kahakai Elementary School 
76-147 Royal Poinciana Drive

Tuesday, August 9 (5:30pm-8:00pm)
Kihei Community Center
303 E. Lipoa St.

Monday, August 8 (5:30pm-8:00pm)
Mitchell Pauole Center
90 Ainoa Street

Wednesday, August 10 (5:00pm-9pm)
Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall
4191 Hardy St., Exhibit Hall B

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