“Mediterranean monk seal biologists and managers are jetting across oceans to Hawaii to attend the International Collaboration for the Conservation of Monk Seals. The HMSRP and our international colleagues will be spending the next two weeks sharing science, outreach and management experiences to help both species of monk seal. We will be sharing news, updates and interesting facts over the next 2 weeks.” — NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program
Some — including The Monachus Guardian — have questioned the wisdom of convening a “closed door” workshop of this type at a time of severe funding shortages, urgent conservation challenges at the grassroots level, and lack of stakeholder participation in both Hawaii and the Mediterranean. [See comments on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Facebook page for a brief overview of the debate — or rather, the debate that should be.]
While the 12-day event in Hawaii is now hastily being described as a “technical workshop” only (— one wonders why, then, it is billed as “International Collaboration for the Conservation of Monk Seals”), it is a fallacy to contend that discussions on such issues as human-seal interactions and translocation will have no direct bearing on practical management choices for the species and its habitats. With many monk seal conservationists not participating in the workshop, both from Hawaii and the Mediterranean, one wonders when the usual “top down” conservation management habits of the past will be seen for what they are: counter-productive. While it may be unrealistic or impractical for every interested party to attend such a workshop, one cannot help but ask why even the most rudimentary details have not been provided to other interested parties and the public at large — such as a workshop agenda and a list of participants.
“The usual top down approaches have failed monk seals everywhere. We need a new paradigm of collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders, not simply a few singular entities. A true international collaboration and discussion could be tremendously helpful.” — Monk Seal Foundation
“An event where they announce they’ll be ‘sharing science, outreach and management experiences’ but yet aren’t even inviting the NOAA Recovery Program that is responsible for a great deal of outreach and management? smh There are many organizations in Hawaii and Europe (been in touch with a few this weekend) that could have potentially benefited from attending even if it was simply to learn. At a time when Federal Funding isn’t even remotely close to what is needed to save the species, it’s imperative that opportunities not be wasted.” — Pat Wardell
The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program is posting some fascinating updates and observations on its Facebook page from its latest tour of duty among the far-flung atolls of the North Western Hawaiian Islands. Here is the latest:
Notes from the Field: Update from Laysan Island Monk Seal Team
We have hit the field running on Laysan. For a reunited, returning crew, it has been relatively easy to do just that. With the field camp up and running by the end of offload day, we were able to start surveys our second day on island.
Within the first week, we were able to tag all 21 weaned pups. Tags are placed on the hind flippers to give each seal a unique set of tags used to identify that seal throughout its life. Once these pups were tagged, it was onto the next set of priorities. → Continue reading Notes from the Field
In 2010 and 2011 NOAA Fisheries staff began to observe a nine-year old monk seal, KE18, attacking newly weaned and juvenile seals at Kure Atoll in the NWHI; causing injuries including lacerations, scratches and puncture wounds on this critical component of the monk seal population. KE18 seriously injured 10 of the 13 pups and an additional three juveniles during the 2010 and 2011 field camps on Kure Atoll. When KE18 transited to Midway Atoll there were two unexplained deaths during his time there.
Media Watch, News Release, Lingle US Senate 2012, 29 November 2011
HONOLULU – Former Governor Linda Lingle sent a letter today to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regarding their proposed rule to designate the main Hawaiian Islands as a critical habitat for the Hawaiian Monk Seal.
She released the following statement:
“A recent proposal by the Federal Government to make 4,787 square miles of land and water in Hawaii a federal critical habitat is another example of government over-reach and insensitivity to the concerns of the people of this State.
Media Watch, The Mainichi Daily News, 16 November 2011
Hawaii’s environment could be in danger as debris from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March, including lumber and home appliances adrift in the Pacific, has been approaching, researchers said at a meeting in Honolulu on Monday.
“The larger the piece, the more dangerous the piece,” said Nikolai Maximenko of the International Pacific Research Center at the meeting on mitigating the impact of the debris on coastlines.
Large debris could damage reefs and shore-side facilities, while small debris could pollute beaches and injure endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal, said speakers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and marine cleanup groups. […]
Proposed rule to revise Hawaiian monk seal Critical Habitat — Public comment period reopened
On June 2, 2011 NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule to revise Hawaiian monk seal critical habitat. The public comment period was open for 90-days, until August 31, 2011. In response to public concerns and comments, NOAA Fisheries has decided to reopen the public comment period for the proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal. The public comment period will be reopened from November 7, 2011 for 60-days and will close on January 6, 2012.