DLNR, NOA asks for help reporting seal hookings, entanglements

HONOLULU — State and federal officials are asking fishermen for cooperation in early-reporting of Hawaiian monk seal hooking and net entanglements, as an effort to increase chances of survival for the endangered species, according to a state press release.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday that since March, there were five monk seal hooking incidents involving four individual seals, including a seal on Kaua‘i that had to be flown to O‘ahu for surgery.

Three of the latest hooking incidents happened last week. Two seals, including the Kaua‘i seal, are being treated on O‘ahu.

A third seal, a 9-month-old female, is still at large, with officials tracking her. This is the second hooking incident recently for this seal. On May 5, she was captured on O‘ahu’s Rabbit Island, de-hooked at Waikiki Aquarium, and released back into the wild the same day.

In March an adult male seal was found dead on Kaua‘i. A hook was found in the seal’s esophagus and necropsy results indicated the seal likely died of trauma from the hook.

NOAA Fisheries and DLNR are reminding fishermen that monk seal deaths and injuries from fishing interactions can often be prevented, and adverse impacts to seals can be reduced through early reporting of incidents.  

“We want to partner with the fishermen to further reduce impacts,” DLNR Chair William Aila Jr. said in the release.

A total of 77 hooking incidents have been reported over the past 10 years, with nine incidents in 2011 and eight incidents reported so far in 2012, according to data from NOAA.

There are currently about 1,100 monk seals left in the world. Their population is considered to be declining about 4 percent a year, despite conservation efforts.

“Hawaiian Monk Seals and Fishing Interactions: Guidelines for Prevention, Safety and Reporting” shows how to avoid seal hookings and entanglement, and stresses the importance of reporting all fishing interactions.  

Visit www.fpir.noaa.gov to view the guidelines.

“Following the guidelines and reporting hookings can help make a relatively small impact become even smaller,” Aila said.


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