Ige signs bill to give more lead time for ocean-event permits

The Maui News

Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law Monday that will allow organizers of marine events to apply for permits one year in advance, instead of 30 days.

Rep. Lynn DeCoite, whose district includes East Maui, Lanai and Molokai, introduced House Bill 2259 after a Haiku resident expressed concerns about safety and having enough time to prepare for the Peahi Challenge, according to a news release from DeCoite’s office.

“As surf and stand-up paddleboard events gain even more traction around the world, it is very important to make sure these events can be efficiently planned,” DeCoite said. “These events get worldwide attention. It is in everyone’s best interests to make sure the event sponsors have the time to plan safe, successful and community-friendly programs and events.”

The measure, now known as Act 156, requires the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to allow applications for marine event permits up to one year in advance. It also authorizes the department to adopt rules to mitigate hazards posed by vessels, thrill craft, drones and other means used by spectators to observe or record marine events.

In the past, event organizers could only apply for permits 30 days before an event, which gave them little time to prepare. Being able to apply one year in advance will allow event sponsors more time to work with the community and respond to concerns leading up to the event, the news release said.

Every year, Rodney Kilborn of Handsome Bugga Productions crosses his fingers that permits for the Peahi Challenge will get approved in a timely manner. The big-wave surf event, held each fall at the East Maui surf spot known as “Jaws,” is streamed live around the world. Kilborn, the organizer, had concerns about safety during the most recent event in October, when drones were flown in the flight path of helicopters that were filming the event.

“Getting the bill is important not just for me but for all of the event organizers out there that apply for these marine event permits,” Kilborn said. “These permits protect all of us and help ensure safety and use of the area along with conservation to make sure the areas do not get overcrowded or overrun.”

Kilborn added that organizers would also have more time to go after bigger sponsorships for events, “which leads to more dollars coming into the state.”

DeCoite thanked the department, fellow lawmakers and her staff for helping to move the bill through.