DLNR drafts rules for West Hawaii manta ray viewing sites

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — The Department of Land and Natural Resources has formulated a list of draft rules regarding proposed changes to manta ray viewing sites.

West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday that the department’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation crafted the rules with the Big Island specifically in mind, as manta ray excursions represent a multi-million dollar industry in West Hawaii that has gone essentially unregulated.

The draft rules would, among other stipulations, require documentation of manta ray viewing site usage and proof that the applicant has an established history of operating tours.

Department spokeswoman Deborah Ward said due to the lack of rules, no permits specifically for manta ray tours have ever been issued. Instead, anyone who currently holds a general commercial use permit is eligible to operate a tour.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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