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Fishery council questions proposal to move Hawaiian monk seals

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:37 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 to the main Hawaiian Islands.

The council, meeting in Honolulu Friday, raised questions about whether the National Marine Fisheries Service should designate significant parts of the main Hawaiian 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 on the Big Island to help injured, orphaned or sick monk seals.

The council said the proposal had the potential of increasing monk seal-human interaction. The  proposed critical habitat in the main Hawaiian Islands would have negative effects, such as depleting fishing stock, said the council, which regulates fishing in the Pacific.

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