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Management Plan Review Information

A management plan serves as a framework to address critical issues facing the sanctuary. It lays the foundation for restoring and protecting the sanctuary's target resources, details the human pressures and threats impacting the sanctuary, and recommends actions that should be taken now and in the future to better manage the area. Management plans are guiding documents that outline regulations, describe boundaries, identify staffing and budget needs, and set priorities for resource protection, research, and outreach and education programs.

Currently the primary purpose of the sanctuary is to protect humpback whales and their habitat within the Hawaiian Islands. However, the sanctuary was mandated by Congress in the 1992 Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary Act to identify and evaluate additional resources and ecosystems of national significance. During the last review of the sanctuary's management plan in 2002, numerous public comments requested the sanctuary to increase its scope to include the conservation and management of other marine resources and species.

There has been a high level of community engagement in the sanctuary management plan review process. In the spring of 2010, statewide informational meetings were held to ensure that the public was aware of the opportunity to participate in the sanctuary public scoping process. A 90-day public scoping period held in the summer and fall of 2010 included 10 statewide public meetings, and generated over 12,300 submissions. Working groups were formed by the sanctuary advisory council to address priority issues that were raised by the public during the scoping period.

Since April 2011, working group participants have contributed over 2,000 hours of service. Working groups were comprised of council members, cultural advisors, local stakeholders, technical experts, and state and federal agency representatives. Issues that were addressed include climate change, ecosystem protections, enforcement, humpback whales, maritime heritage, Native Hawaiian uses, offshore development, ocean literacy, and water quality. The groups have worked to identify gaps in current resource protection efforts and possible roles the sanctuary could play in future management efforts.

In the interest of a transparent process, the council opened working group meetings to the public and provided opportunities for public comment. Additionally, meeting agendas and minutes were posted on the sanctuary website. Working group reports were presented to the full advisory council at an open public meeting on January 17-18, 2012. The council voted to forward all recommendation reports to the sanctuary management. No decisions have been made and there continues to be many opportunities for public engagement.

View documents related to the current management plan review.

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