Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2016-2020, Hawaiian Monk Seal
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries announced a new program to focus and redouble our efforts to protect eight species that are currently among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. This 5-year action plan focuses on priority actions for the Hawaiian monk seal.
The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk species. This initiative includes targeted efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction. The approach involves intensive efforts by us and our recovery partners to stabilize these species. Our goal is to stabilize or reverse their declining trend so that the species will become a candidate for recovery in the future.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of NOAA Fisheries' eight priority species because there are only about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the world, and they have been in a continuous decline since at least the 1950s (Carretta et al. 2014). The Hawaiian monk seal is the second-most endangered pinniped in the world and the last surviving species in its genus. Hawaiian monk seals occur only in the Hawaiian Islands Archipelago, which stretches 1,500 miles from Hawaii Island to Kure Atoll. Hawaiian monk seals are the only marine mammal species whose recovery and management falls entirely under the jurisdiction of the United States.