By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU (AP) - An environmental group is recommending more federal spending to help prevent endangered Hawaiian monk seals from becoming extinct.
The Marine Conservation Institute said in a report Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should also hire a liaison to build trust with fishermen and other communities.
There are fewer than 1,100 monk seals left in the wild. Their numbers are declining 4 percent per year, primarily because those born in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have trouble surviving to adulthood.
The Seattle-based environmental advocacy group says there will be only 450 to 550 Hawaiian monk seals remaining in less than 20 years if the current trend continues.
NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program lead scientist Charles Littnan says the program strives to do more and takes the recommendations very seriously.