Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar
KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii: The past two months have been hard on the business of Iwa Kalua, who operates Aloha Kayak Company in Hanalo.
There has been a kapu on kayaks in Kealakekua Bay since January 2nd, the main attraction for customers of Kalua’s business.
The Department of Land and Natural resources initiated a ban on launching or landing kayaks – as well as other vessels – from Napoopoo, or within the waters of Kealakekua Bay, and at Kaawaloa Flats.
DLNR blamed the proliferation and use of unpermitted kayak rentals at Napoopoo, and concerns about their impact on the general public’s experience and the quality of resources in the water and at Kaawaloa Flats.
Sate officials have been getting an earful about the situation for quite a while.
DLNR said the moratorium had nothing to do with the tragic death of 15 year old Tyler Madoff on July 4th. The White Plains, New York teenager was swept out to see during a day of high surf. He was on an off limits section of Kaawaloa Flats at the time with a tour company and contracted kayak guides.
The local company – Hawaii Pack and Paddle – had their permit to operate the kayak tours revoked after the incident.
At the time of the decision, the Board of Land and Natural resources said they were going to put the moratorium in effect at the start of the year.
Since January 2, the bay has been a lot emptier.
Signs are now posted on the shore warning of the new rules.
And at the top of the hill, there are a lot more cars parked … as hikers hope to reach Kaawaloa by foot.
These two out of state visitors say the atmosphere has changed for the better.
But Iwa Kalua says the kayak ban hasnt stopped all the traffic to Kaawaloa.
Kalua – one of the few companies holding a legal permit to operate kayak rentals at the bay – says the whole problem is enforcement.
Management of Kealakekua Bay is now under the the DLNR’s Parks Division.
A good thing, says Kalua…
But he has some ideas about how government can better manage the situation at the bay.
No word yet on when the moratorium will be lifted… but once it is, all commercial activity, and recreational kayak and vessel use at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park will require a permit.
Kalua says Aloha Kayak is patiently waiting.