Had The Maui News attended the hearing in Kahului on boating regulations, the June 18 article wouldn't have identified boaters' reactions as "mixed." When asked if anyone, among the approximately 100 attendees favored the proposal, not a hand rose.
Speakers pointed out that the incidents of fatalities since 1995 show a marked decrease for Hawaii, well below national averages and prior years.
Hawaii was compared to states that do not have large visitor populations and whose waters are inland. The Department of Land and Natural Resources had cherry-picked statistics.
There was simmering anger. In the last few years, when a DLNR officer appears, no one feels safe. The department claims insufficient resources to protect the environment but spares officers to prowl the ramps, doing lengthy detailed safety checks. These often result in citations, all of which mandate a court appearance, no matter how trivial. The process clogs courts and takes up public defenders' time. The penalties are draconian and often include possible jail for offenses that may be simple oversights.
One speaker has been "inspected" almost every time out. Another spent three days in court because he was not aware certification was required on personal watercraft (not required at all in most states).
The new rules couldn't get through the Legislature, so they're proposed executively. The impression was that the proposal is largely motivated by interest in puffing up DLNR authority rather than honest interest in safety. We should be winnowing out regulations, not inventing endless new ones.