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For Immediate Release, November 7, 2011


Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703,

Public Gets Another Chance to Speak Up to Protect Hawaiian Coasts for Endangered Monk Seals

SAN FRANCISCO— The federal government today announced that it will reopen the public comment period for its proposal to designate more than 11,000 square miles of critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals. The previous comment period expired Aug. 31. Under today’s announcement, the public now has until Jan. 6, 2012 to weigh in.

“Saving Hawaiian monk seals from extinction means protecting the Hawaiian coastlines they rely on to survive,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sought protected habitat for the monk seal. “The public has an important opportunity here to speak up for these endangered monk seals. Protecting these coastlines is not only good for the seals but for all beach users.”

The proposed rule protects beaches and coastal waters on all the main Hawaiian Islands and expands protected habitat in the Northwestern Islands. The proposal responds to a 2008 petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Ocean Conservancy. Hawaiian monk seals are among the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with a population of approximately 1,000 animals.

Critical habitat designation will mean greater protection of Hawaiian monk seal habitat under the Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat protection does not close areas, but it does limit federal government activities that could harm monk seals or their habitat. Once critical habitat is designated, any federal activities that may affect that habitat must undergo review to ensure they will not destroy or damage it. For example, habitat protections can help prevent pollution and require modification of construction activities to prevent destruction of the environment.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places.

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