Shark predation on Hawaiian monk seals workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 8-9, 2008
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Shark predation on Hawaiian monk seals workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 8-9, 2008

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    This report summarizes the proceedings of the workshop, Shark Predation on Hawaiian Monk Seals, sponsored by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) and the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The workshop was held January 8–9, 2008 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The workshop was convened primarily to address the ongoing problem of Galapagos shark predation on preweaned Hawaiian monk seal pups at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). This predation was first observed on a large scale at Trig and Whaleskate Islands in 1997–1999 (map: Appendix A) and has persisted at varying degrees since that time. Various types of mitigation have been attempted, including harassment, translocation of weaned pups, and removal of predatory sharks. While these methods appear to have been partially successful in reducing predation, predation remains at unacceptable levels and is believed to constitute an impediment to recovery of this declining population. The workshop was therefore convened to examine the dynamics and history of Galapagos shark predation on monk seal pups, and to investigate the full range of mitigation options that might be applicable to the situation at FFS. The workshop was chaired by Dr. John Reynolds, Chairman of the Marine Mammal Commission. Participants included representatives of key agencies with jurisdictions in the NWHI, shark ecologists, and researchers with expertise in recent innovations in the field of nonlethal shark deterrents (see Participant List, Appendix C). The workshop was structured around presentations conducted by PIFSC and visiting scientists, with abundant time devoted to moderated discussions. Abstracts were assembled from transcribed notes, as supplemented and reviewed by each presenter. The workshop culminated in a general evaluation of all mitigation alternatives proposed during the workshop.
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