Resolution Supporting Designation of Critical Habitat for the Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

WHEREAS, the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi), whose population decreased by about 50% (from about 1,350 to about 650-700 seals) between 1958 and 1977, was officially designated an Endangered Species on 1 September 1967; and

WHEREAS, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides that the Critical Habitat for an Endangered Species should be designated; and

WHEREAS, commercial fishing operations have been and continue to be conducted within the habitat of this Endangered seal; and

WHEREAS, Hawaiian monk seals have been killed in fishing gear, have been observed to entangle themselves in nets and lines, and have been rescued from serious net entanglement; and

WHEREAS, fishing gear could be designed that would offer minimal endangerment to monk seals; and

WHEREAS, human disturbance of mother monk seals with nursing young reduces survival of young; and

WHEREAS, the National Marine Fisheries Service has failed to designate the Critical Habitat of the Endangered Hawaiian monk seal and has failed to specify the types of fishing gear that would offer minimal danger of entrapment or entanglement of monk seals;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Society of Mammalogists urges the Secretary of Commerce (1) to press for designation of Critical Habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal, (2) to establish standards for fishing gear and its use so as to pose minimal risk of mortality to seals, and (3) to give all possible cooperative effort to personnel of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service of the Hawaiian National Wildlife Refuge to minimize human disturbance of Hawaiian monk seals on their pupping islands.