By Stephanie Salazar
Kona Blue, which operates several open ocean net fish farms off West Hawaii is facing a $6,700 state fine for damaging coral at Kawaihae Harbor. The Land Board votes on the fine and other conditions at its meeting today in Honolulu.
In April 2010 Land Department staff noticed the pen inside the harbor, which was anchored using chains and concrete blocks that broke off coral in several places.
Kona Blue official Neil Anthony Sims wrote to the board, apologizing for the inadvertent damage, but explains they were given a verbal OK to moor the pens at the Kawaihae small board harbor by Nancy Murphy of state boating (DOBOR)
The land board may impose the fine today, as recommended by a report signed by Staff planner Audrey Barker. The fine would have been double the amount, but the penalty accounts for the verbal permission Kona Blue had to temporarily moor the pen at the Kawaihae. Staff called the damage to the coral unintentional and minor.
If the land board appoves the fine, it must be paid within 60 days and Kona Blue would also have to notify the OCCL, the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands – any time it moves its net pens.