Protected Resources Division

how noaa helps

How Does NOAA Help?

Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program

population graphic

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:

  1. Enhance survival of female seals, especially juveniles, born in the NWHI.
  2. Ensure natural population growth and reduce human-seal interactions in the main Hawaiian Islands.
  3. Prevent and mitigate disease and build seal health care capacity.
  4. Administer a recovery program for maximum effectiveness, integration and partnerships.


What's New?

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

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.


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.

Community Programs

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 ...