Two Hawaiian monk seals likely drowned in lay nets, says NOAA

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Three Hawaiian monk seals were reported dead on Kauai in 2020. After completion of post-mortem examinations and gathering of lab test results, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it believes two of the seals died after becoming entangled in lay  gill nets.

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The two seals were found in September and November of 2020. A cause of death for the third seal, which was severely decomposed upon discovery, could not be made, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

“While the vast majority of fishers in Hawaii continue to practice safe, sustainable and pono fishing methods, some continue to fish recklessly, with devastating impact on native and endangered species. This is particularly common with lay gill net fishers,” said the DLNR.

DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) rules require that a gill net, used in the lay net fishing method, not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes after being set. The net should also be physically checked in its entirety two hours after its initial set up per the rule.

Because interactions between monk seals and lay nets continue to escalate, the DLNR has decided to increase patrols for nets that are left unattended.

“These monk seal deaths are, yet again, terrible and unnecessary losses.  Monofilament lay nets are imported modern fishing gear that is indiscriminate and deadly and have been banned elsewhere in the U.S.  We are in discussions regarding how best to ensure seals and turtles are protected given ongoing drownings in lay nets,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.

To report unattended lay nets or seals in close proximity to nets, please visit the DLNRTip app or call 643-DLNR (3567). 

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