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Monk Seal Habitat Revision

NOAA News Release

Due to the rapid decrease in the Hawaiian monk seal population, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Fisheries Service has proposed to revise the critical habitat area for monk seals, and is inviting public comment.

The proposed revision includes expanding the 1988 critical habitat designation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and adding new areas throughout the main Hawaiian Islands.

In July 2008, NOAA Fisheries Service received a petition to revise the Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Act. Following this announcement, NOAA Fisheries Service convened a Critical Habitat Review Team of experts in the field of Hawaiian monk seal biology and management to evaluate critical habitat for the species.

“Monk seals are an important species for Hawaii, and such a valuable part of our ecosystem,” said Michael Tosatto, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands regional administrator. “This species faces a number of threats, and it’s imperative we ensure they have safe areas where they can rest and take care of their young.”

Biologists estimate that only 1,160 Hawaiian monk seals exist, and are in danger of extinction because of their declining population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is accepting comments on the proposed revision through August 31, 2011, at www.regulations.gov, or mail to Regulatory Branch Chief, Protected Resources Division,
NMFS Pacific Islands Region, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814, Attn: Proposed Critical Habitat Revision for the Hawaiian monk seal.

Dates, times and venues for public hearings will be available soon on our website at fpir.noaa.gov.

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