HONOLULU, HI (May 8, 2013) – A New York Times Magazine article investigating the monk seal killings on Kaua‘i and Moloka‘i in 2011 and 2012 has revived attention to the conflict over the protection of this highly endangered marine mammal. In “Who Would Kill a Monk Seal?” writer Jon Mooallem, describes the complex conservation issues that plague the island of Kaua‘i, including conflict over the protection of shearwater birds and nene goose.
Marine Conservation Institute, a non-profit organization, hopes its work on Kaua’i eventually will help resolve the conflict over the seal. Marine Conservation Institute has been working with Kaua‘i residents to investigate and resolve the social struggles prompted by federal conservation actions on the Garden Island.
“We are community advocates,” explains fisherman Matt Sproat, who works with Marine Conservation Institute in an effort to understand the ongoing conflict and create solutions that foster coexistence between local communities and monk seals. Sproat continues, “We are here to listen to the community and work with the community, because we know that local fisherman and ocean users are just people like us who want to make sure their livelihoods and rights are protected. We believe there is a way to balance protecting the livelihoods of local people with the needs of monk seals.”
Sproat and his team are currently conducting interviews and focus groups across Kaua‘i, gathering information for a report that aims to understand and address interactions between ocean users and monk seals. The report will craft a number of recommendations for NOAA and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to help reduce and mitigate conflict, and improve government responsiveness to community needs and concerns.
“The people of Kaua‘i are good people. They love their ‘āina and they love their ocean,” says Sproat. He continues, “We are here to work with the community in finding solutions that work for everybody, then we will advocate to see those solutions implemented at all levels of government.”
Residents interested in participating in the interviews or focus groups, or learning more about the project, should contact Matt Sproat.
The Marine Conservation Institute expects to have a draft of the report completed by Fall 2013.
About Marine Conservation Institute
Marine Conservation Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting marine ecosystems. We work with scientists, politicians, government officials and other organizations around the world to fashion sustainable solutions compatible with healthy, living oceans. Honua Consulting represents Marine Conservation Institute in Hawai’i.