The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reopened  the public comment period for its proposal to designate additional critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi).  As we previously reported, on June 2, 2011, NMFS proposed revising the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by extending the current designation in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to the 500-meter depth contour, including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in the main Hawaiian Islands, including Kaula Island, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui nui, and Hawaii.  NMFS provided a 90-day comment period, ending August 31, 2011.

NMFS received numerous requests for an extension of the comment period.  The requests identified that additional time was needed to more fully consider the proposed rulemaking and provide comments on the proposed designation.  In response to those requests, NMFS elected to extend the deadline.  The public will now have until January 6, 2012 to comment on NMFS’s proposed designation.

Documents and reference materials related to the proposed rulemaking are available via the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office Web site: