DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Sanctuary to Remain Focused on Humpback Whales

Posted on Jan 26, 2016 in Latest News, Newsroom, Press Releases

State Reacts to NOAA Decision

(HONOLULU) – NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has informed the State of Hawaii of its decision to continue the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary as it was first designated by Congress – as a sanctuary to protect humpback whales and their habitat.

Each winter, Hawaiian waters are home to the largest breeding population of humpback whales in the world. Humpbacks are a flagship species in an ecosystem full of marine mammals, fish, coral, and other valuable marine and cultural resources. The State and NOAA, along with other partners and communities, are working hard to preserve Hawaii’s marine ecosystem for the sustainable use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

“The Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) consistently works to implement an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to management.  We believe strongly that this can only be achieved through partnerships in which each entity builds upon and leverages its unique strengths.  The Sanctuary has done this extraordinarily well with humpback whales for over 20 years and we had hoped that this expertise could be extended to other marine mammals,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  “Although ultimately the Sanctuary will not have an expanded purpose, we look forward to building upon its accomplishments, as well as highlighting its successes, particularly the Sanctuary’s world-renowned entanglement response program, at the World Conservation Congress coming to Hawaii in September,” continued Case.

“We will continue working with the appropriate divisions within NOAA, as well as communities and ocean users, to build upon the successes of the Sanctuary and better manage all of our protected species. This includes addressing the threat of harassment to spinner dolphins and of toxoplasmosis to Hawaiian monk seals and other marine mammals,” said DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Bruce Anderson.

The State of Hawai‘i recognizes the tremendous dedication and commitment of the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC), which has worked tirelessly throughout the Sanctuary’s Management Plan Review process to guide and advise sanctuary management.  DLNR is eager to continue to partner with and draw on the tremendous depth of expertise of the SAC as the Sanctuary enters this new chapter.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whales National Marine Sanctuary was established by Congress in 1992. It is located from the shoreline to 600 ft. depth off of Maui Nui, including Penguin Bank, and off the north shore of Kauai, the north and south shores of Oahu, and the north Kona coast of Hawai‘i Island. The sanctuary is co-managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i through the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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Media Contact:
Dan Dennison
Senior Communications Manager
(808) 587-0407