BLNR approves new Hanalei rules

LIHU‘E — The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday unanimously approved amendments to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, regulating commercial activities in the waters of Hanalei Bay and River.

“The amendment to Ch. 13-256, HAR have been a decade in the making and represent many hours of discussion and planning,” Edward Underwood, administrator of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said Friday in written testimony.

The consensus from the public hearing on July 6 in Hanalei was in support of the proposed rules because they agreed there is a need to regulate commercial activities, Underwood said.

“However, they were concerned about enforcement,” he said in his submittal. “In other words, if DOBOR is going to make rules, they need to be enforced by DOBOR and/or DOCARE.”

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. Each vessel will be allowed to carry a total of 30 passengers daily.

The amendment also regulates other commercial activities, such as kayak tours and water-sports instruction. These activities include, but are not limited to, canoe rides, diving, snorkeling, parasailing, surfing, sailboarding and other water-related activities.

Kaua‘i’s sole member on the BLNR, Ron Agor, said Saturday that he was pleased the rules were “community formulated.”

“The board and I are so proud of the community stepping up to the plate and formulating their own destiny,” he said. “The approval is the beginning of putting an old ugly 20 plus year political issue behind. Now, the community can move forward and hopefully all can co-exist happily.”

Before casting his vote, Agor said he me with key Hanalei community members Carl Imparato, Barbara Robeson, Mina Morita, Council Chair Jay Furfaro, state Sen. Ron Kouchi, county deputy attorney Mauna Kea Trask and DOBAR’s Joe Borden.

There were two meetings, as well as continual email communications and the community representatives talking with their community members, he said. There were two public hearings on the rules that followed with very little controversy, Agor added.

 He said the issues centered around the number of tour boat company permits, the amount of allowed passengers per day, and part of the beach being designated as loading zones for passengers. 

The limited amount of surf school customers allowed per day was also brought up, Agor said. 

The board has required DOBAR to report back to the board later this year to report on how the rules affected the bay. 

“We basically will want to know what worked and what didn’t work so we can make adjustments to the rules if necessary,” Agor said. 

The department was also asked to look into the plausibility of having just one designated site for the launching of all commercial tour activities, he added.

Underwood recommended BLNR approve the rules and send them to the Governor’s Office for final approval and filing with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie still has to sign the rules, which would take effect 10 days later.

BLNR meetings are held at the Kalanimoku Building, Land Board Conference Room 132, at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu.

Visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr for more information, including the entire amendment.

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