NOAA provides notice of "intent to proceed" with critical habitat revisions for Hawaiian monk seal
74 Fed. Reg. 27988 / Vol. 74, No. 112 / Friday, June 12, 2009 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 226 / Endangered and Threatened Species: 12–Month Finding for a Petition to Revise Critical Habitat for Hawaiian Monk Seal
SUMMARY: On July 9, 2008, we (NMFS) received a petition dated July 2, 2008, requesting that we revise the present critical habitat designation for the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by expanding the current critical habitat in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and by designating additional critical habitat in the main Hawaiian Islands. We have reviewed, and here provide a summary of the best available information regarding Hawaiian monk seal biology and habitat use. Based on our review, we intend to revise the monk seal’s critical habitat, and we are providing our initial thoughts on the habitat features that are essential to the conservation of this species and describing how we intend to proceed with the requested critical habitat revision.
The Hawaiian monk seal faces a multitude of human threats, including infectious diseases, fisheries interactions, habitat loss, and human interactions. The Molokai Dispatch, in a story discussing the human interactions (including above photo), even referred to the species as the "too-friendly seal."
KEITHINKING: NOAA originally announced the potential for critical habitat revisions for the Hawaiian monk seal in 2008. See ESA blawg. In this unusual critical habitat related notice (litigation related, perhaps?) NOAA explains: "the following steps will be followed to propose the revision of designated critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal: (1) Determine the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing; (2) Identify the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species; (3) Delineate areas within the geographical area occupied by the species that contain these features, and that may require special management considerations or protections; (4) Delineate any areas outside of the geographical area occupied by the species that are essential for the conservation of the species; and (5) Conduct economic, national security, and other analyses to determine if any areas identified in steps 3 and 4 could be excluded from critical habitat consideration under section 4(b)(2) of the ESA. Steps 1 and 2 above are included in this 12–month finding, as described below. Steps 3 - 5 will be completed in the forthcoming proposed rule. SEE ALSO, AP wire story from google, Honolulu Star-Bulletin,