By Wendy Osher
State officials are asking for continued help from fishermen in reporting monk seal hooking or entanglements, saying early reporting increases their chances of survival.
Officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say seven of the 13 seal hooking incidents reported since the beginning of the year ended successfully with intervention from authorized responders.
According to DLNR, three cases ended in deaths, one seal remains hooked to this day, and in two cases ended in the seal ridding itself without intervention.
The latest incident involved the death of the seal known to scientists as “RK54,” who was born last year at the Waikiki Aquarium. According to the agency, the seal was found dead on Oct. 2 near the Ninini Light house on Kauai after swallowing a hook, and becoming entangled in the line.
“Monk seals are a vital part of Hawaii’s marine and cultural environment,” said DLNR Chairperson William Aila, Jr. “While DLNR and NOAA seek to address all adverse impacts on Hawaiian monk seals, we want to acknowledge the cooperation of Hawai‘i fishermen and emphasize that we do not consider fishing interactions in the main Hawaiian islands to currently pose a major threat to monk seal recovery.”
NOAA Fisheries Service data indicate that a total of 83 hooking-related interventions have occurred over the past decade.
“We want to partner with the fishermen to further reduce impacts. Following the guidelines and reporting hookings can help make a relatively small impact become even smaller,” said Aila.
Guidelines for avoiding hooking and entanglement are available at the following link.