POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2011
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is worried about a federal agency's move to allow Hawaiian monk seal pups from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands into the main Hawaiian Islands.
The council, meeting Friday in Honolulu, raised questions about whether the National Marine Fisheries Service should designate significant parts of the main islands as critical habitat for the endangered monk seals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has supported the establishment of a monk seal rehabilitation center in Kona to help injured, orphaned or sick monk seals.
The council said the proposal had the potential of increasing interaction between monk seals and humans. The proposed critical habitat in the main islands would have negative effects, such as depleting fishing stock, said the council, which regulates fishing in the Pacific.
The council also reduced the annual catch limit for 2011-2012 for seven prized species of deep-water bottom fish in the main islands by 6 percent, to 325,000 pounds from 346,000.
The 6 percent reduction was set to make sure the quota was not exceeded, the council said.
The bottom-fish season in the main islands opens Sept. 1 and includes opakapaka, onaga, hapuupu, ehu, kalekale, gindai and lehi.