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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Action timeline

January 26, 2000 – The Center, Greenpeace Foundation and the Turtle Island Restoration Network filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service for allowing the operation of a lobster fishery and bottom-fish fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

November 20, 2000 – A Hawaii federal judge found that the Fisheries Service had violated the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act in allowing the operation of a lobster fishery and bottom-fish fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which were depleting an essential food source for monk seals and invading their critical habitat. The judge issued an injunction halting the lobster fishery and declared a portion of the bottom-fish fishery also in violation of the law.

July 2, 2008 – The Center, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance and Ocean Conservancy filed a petition requesting that the federal government protect areas in the main Hawaiian islands as critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal.

October 3, 2008 – The federal government reacted positively to our petition, announcing it would consider designating areas in the main Hawaiian Islands as critical habitat for the seal.

June 11, 2009 – The National Marine Fisheries Service announced it would designate critical habitat for Hawaiian monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands and expand critical habitat in the northwestern islands.

January 11, 2011 – The Center joined with allies to offer a $30,000 reward for information about the recent killing of three critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Wildlife officials said two of the seals were bludgeoned to death and the third was shot. The death of a fourth seal was also being investigated as suspicious. 

June 1, 2011 – The Obama administration proposed to expand the seal’s habitat to 11,000 square miles, including beaches and coastal waters on all the main Hawaiian Islands and expanded protected habitat in the Northwestern Islands.

August 12, 2015 –  The National Marine Fisheries Service released a draft plan for managing the recovery of Hawaiian monk sealson the state’s main islands and reaching the goal of increasing that population from 200 to 500.

August 18, 2015 – The Fisheries Service issued a final rule protecting almost 7,000 square miles of critical habitat for Hawaiian monk seals. The ruling requires greater scrutiny of federally funded or permitted projects along coastal areas on the main Hawaiian islands to protect this native monk seal, whose population was down to around 1,100 and falling at 3 percent per year.

August 26, 2015 – A new survey showed that more than 80 percent of Hawaii voters supported the new rules protecting nearly 7,000 square miles of coastal habitat forHawaiian monk seals, according to a new poll. Also, 93 percent said it was “very important” or “somewhat important” to keep monk seals from going extinct.

Photo by James P. McVey, NOAA