NOAA proposes expanding monk seal critical habitat

Published: Jun. 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing expanding critical habitat for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal to include parts of the main Hawaiian Islands.

The agency said Thursday it's accepting public comments on the proposal through Aug. 31. It expects to post dates, times and locations for public hearings on its website.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies must make sure their actions - as well as actions they fund or authorize - do not harm critical habitats.

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands regional administrator Michael Tosatto says monk seals face a number of threats and it's imperative that they have safe areas where they can rest and take care of their young.

The move comes after environmental groups petitioned NOAA to expand critical habitat for the species.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.