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Install buoys to protect ocean users

By Staff | Feb 16, 2012

Na Kupuna O Maui has issued a community call to action on ocean safety.

“Please join us in a ‘March of Awareness’ in Lahaina on Saturday, February 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” announced Aunty Patty Nishiyama, Na Kupuna spokesperson.

The public awareness demonstration will begin at Papalaua Street, continue south down Front Street and end at Lahaina Harbor.

“We want to remember the life of Billy Gonzales,” Nishiyama explained.

“He dedicated his life to the culture, community and the keiki,” Nishiyama continued. “We need to honor his legacy.”

Late last year, Gonzales was hit and killed by a 19-foot privately owned boat while diving about 200 yards off Canoe Beach while setting flags for a canoe regatta. He was not using a dive flag.

In the wake of this tragic accident, residents want swim buoys restored at popular Canoe Beach. They also want lawmakers to review Hawaii’s very lax boating rules to protect ocean users near the shore.

“There are so many conflicting uses of the nearshore waters,” Nishiyama said.

“Motorboats and commercial operators should not be sharing the ocean where our children and ‘ohana are swimming, paddling, fishing and engaging in cultural practices.”

The purpose of the call to action is to make the state aware of its responsibility to protect people in the ocean, Nishiyama said.

She wants buoys and floats anchored to denote the division between boaters and ocean users at Canoe, Wahikuli, Launiupoko, Puamana and Kahekili parks.

“In Waikiki,” she said, “they have floaters all over the place.”

Participants in the march will carry signs.

“We want our visitors, boat captains and government authorities to know that incidents like this should never happen again in our waters.”

For more information, call Aunty Patty at 281-5470.