Proposed Expansion of Hawaii National Marine Sanctuary


May 1, 2015

West Maui real estate is prized for its quality, its luxury and its beauty. The stunning ocean vistas may just be the best feature of all. In fact, these allow for excellent whale watching between the months of December and May. Thanks to their grand size and acrobatic antics, whales can easily be seen from miles away. If you have a pair of binoculars or a handy spotting scope, then so much the better. These marvelous migratory behemoths are an iconic presence here in our tropical waters, which is why residents and visitors alike are so passionate about protecting and learning more about them.

Because these whales are such a treasured part of our heritage, a great deal of support is being shown to a proposal to expand the size of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The proposal would also increase the focus of the sanctuary to include multiple marine species.

NOAA has been holding public meetings to solicit comment on the proposition, with the next meeting taking place this evening (May 1st) at the Lanikeha Community Center from 4-6:30pm. The proposal involves the inclusion of all natural and cultural resources within the sanctuary’s boundaries to be managed alongside the whales, and those boundaries would expand by 235 square miles to over 1,600 square miles. State and federal waters around Oahu, Kauai and Niihau would be included.

NOAA has also announced recently that 10 out of 14 populations of humpback whales have recovered their numbers to the extent that they no longer need to be listed as endangered. If removed from the list, they would still be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The health of humpback whale populations is a boon to Hawaii, and is also encouraging from an ecological standpoint. Whale watching is among the most loved activities of Hawaii’s visitors, as well as those who are lucky enough to call Maui home. We’ll find out more about the success of this proposal in time. Don’t forget to check in each Friday for our latest Maui real estate and lifestyle blog. Mahalo!

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