NOAA's Proposed Time Area Closure

Spinner Dolphin Core Resting Areas
We support NOAAs Proposed Rule to Establish Time-Area Closures of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins’ Essential Habitats in the Main Hawaiian Islands. However, it needs to be extended to include additional core resting areas in the Islands, including, but not limited to, critical resting habitat in Hulopoe bay and Manele bay on the Island of Lanai'i.  

NOAA's Final Rule to Prohibit Swimming With and Approaching Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.

Distance Limit

We support NOAA's Final Rule to Prohibit Swimming With and Approaching Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, but do not think it is going far enough.  The observations in this study suggest that, in order to be effective in not disturbing the dolphins the distance limit needs to be extended from 50 yds (46m) to 100 yds (91m), as is currently applied for marine mammal species covered by the endangered species act (ESA) and promoted by the Alaska regional office of NOAA Fisheries.

 

The data in this study, using aerial behavior as an indicator of disturbance, suggest that these dolphins can be disturbed from farther away than 50 yds.

In addition to a distance limit, it is also important to restrict the number of vessels around the school, since dolphin schools in several locations may spend some or most of their resting time, slowly swimming along the coastline while resting. One example of this is along the Kohala Coast, where spinner dolphin schools were displaced from their resting area when Kawaihae harbor was built. They now often congregate north of the harbor in the morning and then slowly move north along the coast.