"We understand a petition is being circulated on Moloka"i to demonstrate public support for legalizing jet ski riding," said Thielen. "The purpose of this public meeting is to hear directly from residents regarding concerns or questions they might have about the use of jet skis in Moloka"i waters."
Residents can also provide comments in writing to the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, or at subsequent meetings.
Commercial or recreational use of controlled ocean sports equipment, such as jet skis, is currently prohibited around the islands of Moloka"i and Lana"i.
"In recent months we have received complaints from island residents about noise and disturbance to reef animals from an increase in illegal jet ski riding in nearshore waters of Moloka"i," said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson. "After our enforcement division officers followed up on these reported cases, we saw a decrease in jet ski use."
A similar public meeting will be planned for Lana"i in the near future.
Legalizing jet ski riding would require a change to the administrative rules of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation. The process would involve public hearings on a draft rule change, approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, review by the Small Business Regulatory Review Board and Department of the Attorney General, and final signature by the Governor, before the new rules can take effect.
In addition, Hawai"i Administrative Rule Chapter 13-256-16 requires all personal watercraft operators to be certified in the safe use of their watercraft, by completing a class offered through the University of Hawai"i Community College System.
Under its administrative rules, thrill craft operations may be curtailed in certain designated areas as necessary, to avoid possible adverse impacts on humpback whales or other protected marine life; provide for increased public access; reduce user conflicts; and promote overall public safety.
Any person requiring accommodations for special needs (i.e. sign language interpreter, large print documents, etc.) may contact harbormaster Bernard Strehler at Kaunakakai Harbor (808)553-1742 to make arrangements for assistance.