HANALEI — Almost everyone present at a state Department of Land and Natural Resources meeting in Hanalei School Cafeteria Wednesday evening agreed there is a need for rules regulating commercial activities in Hanalei Bay and River.
At the height of the meeting, more than a hundred people filled the cafeteria. About three dozen of them signed up to give a two-minute testimony on the proposed amendments to Chapter 13 of Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, regulating commercial boating activities in Hanalei.
Paul Young, longtime boater and self-described resident of the river, said he was glad the DLNR put rules in place.
“I have some reservations, but I’m in favor of the rules as presented,” he said.
Some of the concerns shared by others included the logistics of enforcement, while others had concerns about the number of “water-sport instruction schools.”
Several others were concerned about the permit application process.
“I have been number one on the wait list at ‘Anini (Beach) for 10 years,” Captain Rick Prowse said. “I am still waiting for this permit to be issued.”
And there were those whose concerns simply did not favor the amendments.
Liz Homeweaver said she was against the rules because of the “recession of young people” who are leaving because of no jobs, jobs created by boating.
Section 13-256-39 of the HAR would allow for up to five commercial use permits for the use of self-propelled vessels to load and unload passengers at Hanalei Bay.
Priority for the initial issuing of permits would be given to people who held a commercial use permit and operated under the permit in November, 2000, for Hanalei Bay ocean waters.
Through attrition of these initial permits, the maximum number of permits may be reduced to three.
The DLNR may also issue up to two commercial use permits for the Hanalei launch ramp for the purpose of conducting guided kayak tours in Hanalei Bay ocean waters, with the maximum number of kayaks per trip not exceeding eight and no more than 30 passengers allowed per day under each permit.
Priority for the initial issuing of permits will be given to the operators who have held a commercial use permit in November, 2000, for Hanalei Bay ocean waters.
The DLNR may issue up to eight permits for commercial water sports instruction, including surfing and stand up paddle boarding.
Each permit allows one instructor a day to conduct water-sports instruction, the instructor having no more than four students at any given time.
Additionally, the instructor must have at least three year surfing experience and possess a current Red Cross advanced life-saving certificate.
“The Hanalei Watershed Hui is proud to have assisted with the promulgation of these rules and we stand on the process as open and fair,” said Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana, executive director of the Watershed Hui in expressing her support for the rules. “All commercial and recreational interests were represented at the North Ocean Recreation Management Area meetings and their willingness to work together and compromise for the good of the resources is to be commended.”
Brian Lansing was concerned over the limited number of water sports instruction permits.
“The number of permits should be greater,” Lansing said. “Limited lessons will put out more uneducated people into the water.”
Jeff Chandler, chair of Hui Ho‘omalu i ka ‘Aina, said he strongly supports the proposed rules.
“Hui Ho‘omalu i ka ‘Aina is a taro roots organization founded in the early 1980s in response to threats to the natural and cultural resources of moku Halele‘a,” Chandler said. “It began because of the boats; too many boats, too many people, too little regulation and too much pilikia. Our river suffered, our bay suffered, and our ice box suffered.”
After seven meetings statewide in the beginning of the year, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was supposed to decide on March 24 on the fate of the controversial amendment to ocean recreation and coastal areas rules, which would affect Hanalei Bay.
But the item was pulled off the BLNR’s meeting agenda, because when Joe Borden, Kaua‘i District Manager for the DLNR, had presented Gov. Neil Abercrombie with the proposed amendments, he “inadvertedly” forgot to include Hanalei map.
“The governor approved it, and it went out to public hearing without the map of Hanalei,” Borden said in March.
So the DLNR rescheduled a public hearing for this past Wednesday, when Borden moderated the meeting.
The DLNR will be accepting written testimony until July 13. Submissions should be mailed to the Chairperson at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813.
Go to www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dboar/bordraftrules.htm to view the proposed rule amendments.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.