HONOLULU— The National Marine Fisheries Service announced today that it needs
six more months to decide how much habitat to protect for critically endangered
monk seals. In response to a 2008 petition from three conservation groups,
the agency is considering a proposal to protect 11,000 square miles of coastal
areas in the main Hawaiian Islands as critical habitat for the seals. Hawaiian
monk seals are among the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with a
population of approximately 1,100 animals.