Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 12, 2015

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (808) 352-1771,

Plan Could Help Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal Recover on Main Islands

HONOLULU— The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a draft plan for managing the recovery of endangered Hawaiian monk seals on the state’s main islands and reaching the goal of increasing that population from 200 to 500. While the number of monk seals on the main islands has been increasing, their overall numbers in the archipelago are estimated at about 1,100 and declining by 3 percent per year, putting them in danger of extinction.

“Hawaiian monk seals are among the most endangered marine mammals on Earth, so we’re glad to see the government working with the community on a management plan. The strategy of working with the community and managing threats to the seals is a good first step,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Next we’re eager for federal habitat protections that would further these goals, which we expect to come out soon.”

The management plan released late Tuesday is separate from the pending critical habitat designation required by the Endangered Species Act. Efforts to protect the Hawaiian monk seal began in 2008 with a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance and Ocean Conservancy and involved dozens of public hearings and responses to more than 20,000 public comments.

The draft plan released this week by the Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and the Center and its allies are currently reviewing that plan and preparing comments.

“This plan focuses on working with the community to manage the recovery of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, and it recognizes that it’s everyone’s responsibility to conserve Hawaii’s rich wildlife. Hawaiian monk seals are nearly extinct, and it’s such a good sign that we’re seeing more and more of them on the main Hawaiian Islands. This plan engages the community in their management, to protect the health and safety of both seals and people,” Sakashita said.

Read the draft plan here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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