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  • Writer's pictureGarden Island News

Residents Frustrated at Boating-Rule Enforcement

Published in Garden Island News, By Sabrina Bodon | Monday, July 27, 2020

Hanalei Makai Watch — Thus far this year, no citations have been issued at Hanalei Bay for breaking boating rules. Frustrations are growing among residents disappointed in the lack of enforcement there.

Jean Sahuc, a regular at Hanalei, said the rules “do not seem to be enforced — at all. This creates a hazard, particularly to swimmers and snorkelers.”

Sahuc, in a letter to The Garden Island, cites speedboats in the slow, no-wake zone, motorboats both breaking the speed limit and launching within swim areas. “Motorboats are obviously a potential threat to all swimmers and snorkelers in the vicinity, especially to keiki wading around the designated swim zones,” Sahuc said.

Both the Hanalei Bay and Hanalei River are observed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation harbor agents and Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Officers when on patrol, according to DLNR.

Operators, recreation and commercial crafts must follow state rules as well as follow the Hanalei Bay Ocean Waters rules. The bay is located in the North Shore Ocean Recreation Management Area.

Part of these rules establish a slow, no-wake zone within 500 feet of shore, and prohibit anything besides an outrigger canoe or small, unmotorized vessel engaged in net fishing within 300 feet of a designated swimming area. Swimming areas are about 100 yards around either side of the bay’s pier.

The rules also state that a commercial vessel cannot load or unload passengers in the bay without a permit.

Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana is a coordinator for Makai Watch, a group through the DLNR that enforces these laws. She helps train and educate beach-goers of the rules, and how to file complaints. “We’re there to be the eyes and ears for DLNR,” she said. What makes these rules difficult to enforce is that the rules for documentation of infractions are so strict, she said.

Reports of possible violations must be seen and documented with pictures of the vessel, the wake, operator, time and location.

“In other words, actual on-view observations that a vessel has created a wake in a no-wake zone,” a spokesperson said in an email. DOBOR issued no citations in 2019, according to DLNR.

“It’s frustrating when you report and don’t see enforcement or follow-up,” Ka‘aumoana said.

“Some of the lifeguards I have talked to seem frustrated by the lack of enforcement on the part of DOBOR, as it makes their job harder, while substantially increasing the risk of an accident happening,” Sahuc said.


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