Honolulu – When it comes to food, Hawaiian monk seals behave much like dogs. Feed them once and they’ll come back for more. That’s one of the messages the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is relaying to fishers who frequent the small bay adjacent to the Kahe Power Plant on O‘ahu’s Wai‘anae coast.
Recently at least three seals have been seen in the bay looking for food and reports indicate some anglers have provided them with the scraps of a fish that a seal tried to take off a hook. Angela Amlin, the Hawaiian monk seal Recovery Coordinator for the NOAA Pacific Fisheries Office explained, “A seal that gets food from one fisherman will then try to poach from other hook and line fishermen or spear fishermen, impacting everyone’s fishing experience. Fishermen can help each other by not feeding seals.” It’s also important to know that feeding a seal, or attempting to feed a seal, (or any wild marine mammal), is prohibited under federal law. This is why, this week, NOAA Fisheries put up a seal safety sign at the entrance to the Kahe fishing area and are stepping-up outreach to fishermen.
Yesterday Amlin and a colleague walked the sea walls around the Kahe fishing area and stopped to talk to fishers. They explained the dangers of seal-human interactions and asked fishermen to take a break for a few minutes when a seal is in the area. Amlin said, “Hopefully the seal gets bored and moves on. If the seal does get your bait or part of a catch, don’t throw it back into the water as that becomes an incentive for a seal to keep coming back.”
“We rely on calls from the public to