Categorized | Environment

Whale management plan review update


From the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary:

As many of you know, in 2010 the sanctuary began a multi-year process to review and update the current management plan. The management plan review process (MPR) includes many consultations with community members, including Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, scientists, educators, ocean users, and state and federal agency representatives.

There are also numerous opportunities for members of the public to provide input.

Following a 90-day public comment and scoping period in the summer and fall of 2010, the sanctuary advisory council formed 9 working groups based on priority issues that were raised by the public. The working group process included more than 150 participants, 60 meetings, workshops, and more than 2,000 hours of service in developing potential management recommendations for advisory council consideration.

At the January 2012 meeting of the advisory council, the council discussed, voted on, and forwarded recommendations to the sanctuary management on possible roles the sanctuary could play to address marine and cultural resource conservation.

As part of this process, the sanctuary advisory council has recommended that the sanctuary consider expanding its focus from humpback whales and their habitat to an ecosystem-based management approach.

The recommendations also include the consideration of special management areas and vessel speed limits, as well as increased collaboration with communities and state and federal agencies.

The recommendations reflect an approach that considers the whole ecosystem, including humans and the environment, rather than managing one resource or issue in isolation.

The advisory council recommendations will be considered as the sanctuary moves forward to develop a new draft management plan. The draft management plan and associated environmental impact statement will identify gaps in existing marine conservation efforts in Hawaii and potential roles for the sanctuary to complement existing conservation efforts.

No final decisions have been made at this time, and once the draft plan is complete, there will be additional opportunities for the public to provide input. It is anticipated that a draft plan will be available to share with the public in early 2013.

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