For the Preservation of Wilderness Wildlife Values in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge (HINWR)

WHEREAS, the HINWR was set aside in 1909 for the preservation of unique wildlife species endemic to and breeding on these remote atolls and islets; and

WHEREAS, in recent months demands have been made by fishing interests to open the atoll lagoons and other waters adjacent to the refuge islands to fishing activities; and

WHEREAS, the Refuges Division of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (BSFW) has opposed such human invasion of these uninhabited HINWR areas to protect the wilderness values essential to the survival of marine wildlife populations inhabiting these islands and waters; and

WHEREAS, studies of the rare Hawaiian monk seal at the inhabited atolls of Midway and Kure demonstrate conclusively that human disturbance over a period of years causes monk seal populations to decline and disappear; and

WHEREAS, recent (March 1973) surveys, along with other data, demonstrate that the Caribbean monk seal is today extinct because of human presence, mostly fishermen, in its habitat;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Society of Mammalogists recommends that in order to preserve wildlife and wilderness values of the HINWR, fishing and other human activities should be barred from these areas; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the Interior be requested to remove any possible doubt that the lagoons and waters adjacent to most HINWR islands and reefs are essential parts of the habitat of the rare Hawaiian monk seal and that fishing activities, which would cause the seals to be harassed, will be forbidden under the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (PL 92-522) and that only necessary human visitation associated with approved scientific study and wildlife and habitat protection will be permitted.