A ruling that protects Hawaiian monk seal habitats is being hailed as an important step towards preventing their extinction.
The US National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final ruling last week, protecting almost 18 thousand square kilometres of critical habitat for the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
It means anyone who requires a federal permit for activity in the protected area will have to undergo a review of whether or not they will impact, or harm, the monk seal habitat.
An advocate for Hawaiian monk seals, Trisha Kehaulani Watson, says the monk seal population is down to about 1,100, and there is no easy solution to recovering the population, but this will help.
"This is another tool in that tool box, and it's an important one. I think this will not be a silver bullet but I think it's an important step along the way to recovering monk seals. It's a great step, it's important and really it was a good week for us."
An advocate for Hawaiian monk seals, Trisha Kehaulani Watson.