New Hanalei ocean rules approved

KALAPAKI — New rules regulating commercial activities in state waters, directly affecting Hanalei Bay, will soon go into effect, state officials said.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila Jr. said Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the new rules on Tuesday and they will take effect 10 days from that date.

Aila made the statement Wednesday morning during a Lihu‘e Business Association meeting at Duke’s Canoe Club in Kalapaki Bay.

The changes to Section 13-256-39 of the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules are expected to have broad impacts to recreational and commercial marine vessel operations in Hanalei Bay and Hanalei River.

The amendment limits to up to five the number of commercial use permits for self-propelled vessels that can load and unload at Hanalei Bay.

Priority will be given to the companies that held a commercial permit and operated under such permit in November 2000. But the number of allowable permits could drop to three, through attrition of the initial permittees.

The amendment also limits the permits to passenger vessels certified by the U.S. Coast Guard that can carry up to 25 passengers. Permits shall authorize the carrying of no more than 30 passengers daily.

Kayak tours will be limited to two commercial use permits for the Hanalei launch ramp. The maximum number of passengers per trip per permit will be limited to eight, and no more than 30 passengers per day. Priority for kayak tour permits would also be given to those who operated under a permit in November 2000.

Surfing instruction will also be regulated. The DLNR will issue up to eight permits for commercial water sports instruction within Hanalei Bay ocean waters, including surfing and stand-up paddling.

Each water sports instruction permit will authorize one instructor per day to have no more than four students at any given time. The DLNR may designate the site of instruction and hours of operation.

Additionally, the instructor must have at least three year surfing experience and possess a current Red Cross advanced life-saving certificate.

Commercial water sports instruction or tours include, but are not limited to, commercial kayak tours, canoe rides, diving, snorkeling, parasailing, surfing, sailboarding and other water-related recreational activities, according to the amendment.

Earlier this year the DLNR held seven public hearings statewide on proposed amendments and additions to state boating rules, seeking more effective management of state small boat harbors and related facilities, plus ocean activities in state waters.

On March 24, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was expected to decide on the fate of the amendments to Chapter 13 of HAR, related to ocean recreation and coastal areas rules.

But the item was pulled off the BLNR’s meeting agenda because when DLNR Kaua‘i District Manager Joe Borden had presented Abercrombie with the proposed amendments, he “inadvertently” forgot to include the Hanalei map.

“The governor approved it, and it went out to public hearing without the map of Hanalei,” Borden said in March.

The DLNR then rescheduled two more public hearings, one on Kaua‘i and another on O‘ahu.

More than 100 people turned out at the meeting July 6 at the Hanalei School cafeteria, where a majority of the three dozen speakers supported the amendment. The DLNR accepted written testimony until July 13.

Visit hawaii.gov/dlnr for more information.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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