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Overcrowding of near shore ocean resources prompts new DLNR rules for commercial recreational operations

By Staff | Jan 29, 2015


HONOLULU – New fees and permit requirements are now in effect for commercial recreational operations in state small boat harbors, facilities and near shore waters, the state Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) announced last week. Any company or individual conducting commercial activity is now required to contact the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) for a permit.

DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said, “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.”

Prior to the implementation of the new rules, commercial permits were only issued for use of state harbors. There were no permit requirements for commercial operators conducting business from private marinas or from shore.

Underwood said, “There has been such a demand on near shore water resources that they are becoming overcrowded. 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 that contains the information they need to be in compliance with the rules.

Companies operating without a permit could be cited, fined and potentially have their equipment confiscated.

Permit fees are $200 per month or 3 percent of gross receipts – whichever is greater. Ocean recreation businesses operating out of a private or county facility will only pay the minimum requirement of $200 each month.

Commercial operators that already pay 3 percent of gross receipts under a harbor commercial use permit will not be required to pay an additional fee for issuance of the new commercial permit for use of state ocean waters.

Currently, DLNR/DOBOR wants to educate people about the new rules. Permit information will help inform management decisions about activities happening in state waters now and in the future. For more information, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor.

The rules are the result of statewide public meetings held over the past two years. The final set of rules were adopted by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in April 2014 and signed into law by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie in September.