HONOLULU — New fees and permit requirements are now in effect for commercial recreational operations in state small boat harbors, facilities and near shore waters in the state of Hawaii.
Any company or individual conducting commercial activity is required to contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation for a permit.
“This includes surf and stand-up paddle boarding schools, kayaking companies, snorkeling and scuba diving tours and any type of commercial recreational activity happening in state waters,” said DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood.
The Garden Island wrote about the new rule earlier this month after local dive companies said the department cost them tens of thousands of dollars by implementing it prematurely and with little or no notification.
After initially being shut down, those companies said the state granted an extension for them to come into compliance.
DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said Kauai ocean recreation companies have been, and continue to be, notified by DOBOR Kauai office to submit their permit application and also show that they have landowner permission to access the shoreline.
“If caught operating without a permit, an operator may be subject to citations, fines and penalties,” she wrote in a recent email.
Prior to the implementation of this new set of administrative rules, commercial permits were only issued for use of state harbors, according to Underwood. There were no permit requirements for commercial operators conducting business from private marinas or from shore.
“There has been such a demand on near shore water resources that they are be-coming overcrowded,” Underwood said. “We are pushing out local families, who for instance, can’t get into popular surf breaks because there are so many commercial surf schools using these breaks. This gives the state the mechanism for regulating these types of activities and any new activities that may be on the horizon.”
Permits are available at DOBOR offices around the state. Operators seeking a permit will have to fill out a questionnaire which contains the information they need to be in compliance with the rules.
Permit fees are $200 per month or 3 percent of gross receipts, whichever is greater. Ward said the fee covers administrative processing and monitoring of ocean recreation activities.
Companies operating without a permit could be cited, fined and potentially have their equipment confiscated.