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Hearing on Proposed Rule to Establish Time-Area Closures of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins’ Essential Habitats

A new federal regulation prohibits swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of a Hawaiian spinner dolphin. Photo Credit: Julian Tyne/NOAA Fisheries.

NOAA Fisheries is holding a virtual public hearing Dec. 9 related to their proposed rule to establish time-area closures for Hawaiian spinner dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 

The proposed rule was announced Sept. 28, 2021, and the public comment period runs through Dec. 27, 2021. 

The proposed closure times would be from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

NOAA proposing these time-area closures because spinner dolphins use near-shore areas to rest, nurture their young, and shelter from predators during daytime hours.

“In recent years these dolphins have faced intense pressure from dolphin-directed activities during their critical rest period. The proposed regulations are intended to prevent disturbance and harassment of Hawaiian spinner dolphins in areas identified as their essential daytime habitats,” according to NOAA.

The proposed regulations would apply to portions of the following bays:

  • Kealakekua Bay, Hawai‘i Island
  • Hōnaunau Bay, Hawai‘i Island
  • Kauhakō Bay, Hawai‘i Island
  • Makako Bay, Hawai‘i Island
  • Keoneʻōʻio “La Pérouse” Bay in Mākena, Maui
  • PC: US Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service
  • PC: US Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service
  • PC: US Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service
  • PC: US Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service
  • PC: US Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service

Proposed exceptions to the time-area closures include:

  1. Vessel operations necessary to avoid an imminent and serious threat to a person or vessel.
  2. Activities authorized through a permit or authorization issued by NOAA Fisheries.
  3. Federal, State, or local government vessels, aircraft, personnel, and assets when necessary in the course of performing official duties.
  4. Vessels participating in organized community-based outrigger canoe races that transit straight through a time-area closure.
  5. Vessels that transit straight through the time-area closure for the sole purpose of ingress and egress to privately owned shoreline residential property located immediately adjacent to the time-area closure.
  6. Outrigger canoes used for traditional subsistence fishing intended for personal, family, or community consumption or
    traditional use.

How to Submit Comments:

  • Online: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/28/2021-20620/establishment-of-time-area-closures-for-hawaiian-spinner-dolphins-under-the-marine-mammal-protection
  • Mail to:
    • Kevin Brindock, Deputy Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division,National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
  • Virtual public hearing: Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. HST
  • Access and registration details are available online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/event/public-hearing-proposed-rule-establish-time-area-closures-hawaiian-spinner-dolphins-essential. To participate via phone, dial US Toll +1-415-527- 5035; enter access code: 276 477 10691.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/12/05/hearing-on-proposed-rule-to-establish-time-area-closures-of-hawaiian-spinner-dolphins-essential-habitats/

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