Public Meetings Begin on Humpback Whale Sanctuary
By Maui Now Staff
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration begins a series of public meetings this week to educate the public and solicit comment on a proposal to expand the size and focus of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to include multiple marine species.
The proposal calls for: an increase in size; the expansion of management to not only include humpback whales, but all natural and cultural resources within its boundaries; and changing the agency’s name.
Under the proposal, the boundary of the sanctuary would expand by 235 square miles to more than 1,600 square miles, and would include state and federal waters around O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.
The series of public meetings are planned throughout the state with the first Maui meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. at the Kīhei Youth Center.
Maui County meetings are planned at the following times and locations:
- April 29, 5:30 to 8 p.m.: Kīhei Youth Center, 131 S. Kīhei Road, Kīhei
- April 30, 5 to 7:30 p.m.: Kaunoa Senior Center, 788 Pauoa St., Lahaina
- May 1, 4 to 6:30 p.m.: Lanikeha Community Center, 2200 Farrington Ave., Kaunakakai
- May 2, 9:30 a.m. to noon: Lāna‘i High and Elementary School, 555 Fraser Avenue, Lāna‘i City.
Public comments will be accepted through June 19.
More information on the proposal can be found on the sanctuary’s website.
The announcement comes as NOAA also seeks the removal of 10 of 14 populations of humpbacks from endangered species status. If the proposal is finalized, NOAA officials say the humpback whale populations that would no longer be listed under the Endangered Species Act would still remain protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.