Land Board Issues $2,500 Civil Fine for Commercial Activity Violations at Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) today authorized an civil penalty fine of $2,500 and associated administrative costs of $753 to be assessed against Alexander Aquino, of Captain Cook, for violation of State Parks Hawaii Administrative Rule chapter 13-146-68, which prohibits commercial activities in State Parks without a written permit from the board or the Division of State Parks.

Aquino was arrested on Nov. 21, 2013 within Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park during an undercover operation conducted by officers of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), and charged with soliciting for patrons to rent kayaks for use in Kealakekua Bay. Also arrested and charged for the same violation was Nathan Kolii, also of Captain Cook.

Criminal cases against both men are still pending.

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

In January 2013, the Division of State Parks implemented a moratorium on the use of all vessels within Kealakekua Bay and all landings at Kaawaloa Flat. Vehicle parking and launching of kayaks at the historic Napoopoo wharf were no longer allowed without a permit. Only the 3 previously Board-authorized commercial companies holding state parks revocable permits were allowed to continue offering guided kayak tours to Kaawaloa Flat and to launch from Napoopoo. State Park’s objective was to stop the illegal vending and renting of equipment at Napoopoo, and stop the proliferation of kayak client landings at Kaawaloa, with the accompanying environmental damage to nearshore corals and from human waste upon archaeological sites.

State Parks then began to issue special use permits for vessels such as stand-up paddleboards, sailboats, kayaks, etc. to transit the water of the bay only, but not to launch from Napoopoo or land at Kaawaloa. No one is allowed to land a vessel, or to swim from a vessel and land at Kaawaloa. Permits are free and contain a set of conditions to protect the natural resources of the park. During 2013, a total of 447 special use permits were issued, 93 authorized vessel permits, and 354 for non-commercial users.

Although Aquino held a special use permit, it is not a commercial permit allowing for solicitation of patrons within the park, which constitutes a violation of park rules and is grounds for revocation of the permit.

“This case shows that DLNR is taking enforcement action to curb a prolific business in illicit sales and services that have had detrimental impacts on the community and the park environment,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have provided opportunity for a limited number of responsible commercial vendors to service a manageable number of clients going to Kaawaloa, and share in stewardship responsibility. We have also provided a simple process for ocean recreational users to obtain permits to allow them to enjoy the bay’s waters,” Aila said.

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