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Protected Resources Division
How Does NOAA Help?
Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program
NOAA Fisheries Service is mandated to protect and recover the Hawaiian monk seal. The Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program responds to diverse threats to monk seals and management issues across the inhabited and uninhabited Hawaiian Archipelago. The recovery program benefits by synergy between research and management: management for monk seal recovery uses the best available science and research is guided by management needs.
The overarching recovery strategies are:
- Enhance survival of female seals, especially juveniles, born in the NWHI.
- Ensure natural population growth and reduce human-seal interactions in the main Hawaiian Islands.
- Prevent and mitigate disease and build seal health care capacity.
- Administer a recovery program for maximum effectiveness, integration and partnerships.
- Monk Seals with Health and Safety Issues: How NOAA Fisheries decides to intervene. As NOAA Fisheries works to protect and recover endangered Hawaiian monk seals, we often need to decide whether or not to directly intervene with seals that have health or safety issues. For more on this process, view the complete article here.
- NOAA Fisheries makes available to the public its National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 compliance report for Hawaiian monk seal recovery actions. NOAA Fisheries has completed the consultation process under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 for a suite of proposed Hawaiian monk seal recovery actions, and has made a determination of no historic properties affected. This determination means there are historic properties present in the area in which the recovery actions will occur, but the undertaking will have no effect, as described in 36 C.F.R. Pt. 800.16.(i), upon the historic properties. The NHPA Section 106 compliance report presents a summary of our NHPA Section 106 compliance process, and documents the determination of no historic properties affected, as specified in 36 C.F.R. Pt. 800.11.(d). The proposed Hawaiian monk seal recovery actions include a suite of research and enhancement activities intended to promote the recovery of Hawaii's endangered monk seals.
For more information on the Hawaiian monk seal recovery actions, please visit:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/eis/hawaiianmonkseal.htm and http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/monkseal16632.htm.
- Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program Update and Accomplishments Report 2009-2010 (June 2011, pdf 5.94 MB) - This report describes the activities that comprise the recovery program, and highlights accomplishments achieved by NOAA Fisheries Service and partners in calendar years 2009 and 2010.
- Historical and Contemporary Significance of the Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal in Native Hawaiian Culture (May 2011, pdf 465.5 kB)
This report presents new research findings regarding the significance of Hawaiian monk seals in historical and contemporary Native Hawaiian culture.
- Public Perceptions and Attitudes about the Hawaiian Monk Seal Survey Report (April 2011, pdf 874.5 kB)
This report summarizes the methodology and results of a targeted audience survey and will be used to help guide NOAA Fisheries' future outreach and education about the Hawaiian monk seal.
- Monk Seal and Fishery Interaction Guidelines (July 2013, pdf 321 kB)
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)
The programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) is a document that NOAA Fisheries is preparing in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that describes and analyzes a suite of research and enhancement (management) actions proposed by NOAA Fisheries to promote recovery of critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
Critical Habitat designations are intended to aid federal agencies in preventing impacts to ESA-listed species' habitats. Certain areas are given this designation because they are considered necessary for the survival and the recovery of a species. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in turn prohibits any changes or "destruction or adverse modification" by federal activities (those that are federally funded or permitted) to these areas that will diminish its value as important habitat for the survival and recovery of the species. It is important to note that critical habitat designation does not turn an area into a reserve, refuge, Marine Protected Area (MPA) or a park. Public access and usage in areas that are designated as critical habitat are NOT affected.
- Hawaiian Monk Seal Critical Habitat Frequently Asked Questions (August 2015, pdf 3.21 MB)
NOAA Fisheries issued its final rule to revise the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal, expanding the previous designation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and identifying new key beach areas and marine-foraging areas in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). See the final rule.
- Critical Habitat Frequently Asked Questions (June 2011, pdf 1.26MB)
- Petition (Aug 2008, pdf 757kB)
Implementation of Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Plan
NOAA Fisheries is committed to implementing the Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Plan, focusing on the overarching recovery strategies (above). Actions being undertaken to implement the plan include: coordination of NOAA, other federal, state, and local agencies and non-governmental organizations to facilitate monk seal recovery; reduction of mortality factors including shark predation, male aggression and risk of exposure to infections diseases; conservation of monk seal habitat; development of comprehensive outreach and education programs focused on minimizing human disturbance and other adverse impacts and maximizing public support for monk conservation; and coordination of volunteer groups in the main Hawaiian Islands to facilitate of monitoring and response for Hawaiian monk seal pupping events and haulouts.
- Recovery Plan for the Hawaiian Monk Seal (August 2007, pdf 1.33MB)
- Response to Public Comments on the Recovery Plan for the Hawaiian Monk Seal (August 2007, pdf 24.5kB)
- Hawaiian Monk Seal 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation (August 2007, pdf 260 kB)
PIRO has started a suite of programs designed to improve local community support for, and participation in, Hawaiian monk seal recovery and marine mammal response in the Main Hawaiian Islands. The programs include hiring a Native Hawaiian liaison, organizing a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner network, community liaison programs, and other community engagement with our partners and stakeholders.
State of Hawaii Partnership
NOAA Fisheries Service partners with State of Hawaii DLNR Department of Aquatic Resources to increase fishermen's awareness and promote seal-friendly fishing practices. These efforts are funded in part via an ESA Section 6 grant. DLNR efforts have focused on response support and community outreach and education, especially outreach to fishermen and other local ocean users.
Captive Care Facilities
NOAA Fisheries Service has facilitated development of a network of captive care facilities to support monk seal rehabilitation and veterinary care at various locations in partnership with The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) , Waikiki Aquarium , Sea Life Park , Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority (NELHA) and others.
Marine Mammal Response Network
The Marine Mammal Response Network (MMRN) responds to strandings and haul-outs of all marine mammals, including monk seals, in the Pacific Islands Region. NOAA Fisheries Service manages the MMRN in partnership with several government agencies, including the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS), University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the National Park Service (NPS). MMRN volunteers, managed directly by NOAA Fisheries Service and/or our partners, donate thousands of hours to provide a significant portion of the day-to-day human-seal management in the main Hawaiian Islands.
Education and Outreach
Volunteers and staff conduct public outreach and education across the state to support monk seal recovery efforts. Between 2009-2010, over 10,000 members of the public were reached through partnerships with 30+ businesses, 50+ school presentations, 100+ schools receiving "An Endangered Treasure," the volunteer-created monk seal school presentation and curriculum CD, and outreach presentations and materials distributed to over 30 hotels and condos.
NOAA Fisheries Service uses innovative science to explore monk seal biology and interactions with humans and the environment, and apply the best available science to guide our management and recovery plans for monk seals. The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP) leads research on monk seals. Learn more about the research projects PIFSC is undertaking to advance monk seal recovery ...