Panel approves slate of boating rules

The Maui News

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a bundle of amendments to state boating rules Friday but delayed implementation of a rule on disposing of feral animals on small-boat harbor property.

With the board’s adoption, the proposed revisions and additions to the rules will be sent to Gov. David Ige for approval.

The rules were intended to improve management of state small-boat harbors, which are under the jurisdiction of the BLNR, and ocean recreation-related activities in state waters. The majority of the amendments were focused on making the rules more user-friendly and providing greater clarity through reorganization, said Ed Underwood, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator.

“Facility management and the ocean recreation industry are changing rapidly, and we need to better address the way people are using our harbors and the ocean currently,” he said in a news release. “This includes repealing obsolete rules.”

The rule changes cover commercial use and parking permits and fees; commercial marine operations and tours; anchoring or mooring outside of a designated mooring area; reporting of accidents and vessel ownership and registration; operation of power-driven vessels and recreational thrill craft; and authorization to hold a regatta, marine parade, boat race or exhibition.

The rules also cover restrictions to specific marine waters; use of a vessel as a residence or vacation site; marine toilets; sleeping or camping; and the serving, sale and consumption of liquor.

At statewide hearings in July, including at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku attended by 50 people, the majority of testimony focused on new rules regarding feral and abandoned animals.

The two new administrative rule sections would prohibit feeding of wildlife or feral animals and abandoning animals and creating or contributing to colonies at any property under the boating division’s jurisdiction. These new sections were added in response to complaints about increased feeding of feral animals at boating facilities, which creates potentially unsafe and unsanitary conditions and could endanger sea life.

The board approved both amended rules but deferred implementation of a provision that would allow disposal of feral or abandoned animals at state small-boat harbors until Jan. 1, 2019. The delay was to give time for the boating division to work with animal caregivers to come up with a viable plan to relocate colonies of feral and abandoned animals to areas outside of the small-boat harbors.

Rules pertaining to dive flags also came up during the Maui hearing July 26. The new rules will require dive flags to be illuminated at night, though most of the Maui testimony focused on expanding the surface zone for snorkelers and divers around a flag on a boat. That remained at 100 feet around vessels.