by David Corrigan, voice of Stephanie Salazar
KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii – Kayak rentals are returning to Kealakekua Bay starting today.
Hawaii News Now is reporting that the Department of Land and Natural Resources has lifted the moratorium on the kayak rentals and approved permits for two commercial tour companies – Aloha Kayaks and Kona Boys – at the State Historical Park in South Kona.
The companies are authorized to launch permitted commercial kayaks from Napo’opo’o Landing in order to guid tour groups across Kealakekua Bay to Kaawaloa Flats.
We spoke to Aloha Kayaks Company owner Iwa Kalua in February about the moratorium, which was a big chunk of his business.
Kalua’s company will now be able to return to Kealakekua.
Hawaii News Now reports conditions for these operations include limitations on the number of landings, and the number of customers per trip. The duration of the landings will also be limited.
In a media release, DLNR Chairperson William Aila said the decision is a part of the department’s multi-stage efforts to improve the management, quality and sustainability of the resource.
In the same media release, DLNR says the “moratorium continues” for the rest of the bay’s recreational users, which prohibits “operating, launching, transiting, beaching or landing of kayaks and other vessels from Napoopoo, within the waters of Kealakekua Bay, and at Kaawaloa Flats until certain planned management and regulatory actions are completed to address proliferation and use of unpermitted kayak rentals being conducted at Napoopoo.”
“Also prohibited in the closed areas are other floatation devices and watercraft such as stand-up paddle boards, surfboards, and boogie boards. Swimming and snorkeling are allowed in the bay, but no landing at Kaawaloa will be permitted.”
Local residents are reportedly upset that permits have been given to the tour companies – which cater mostly to tourists – while there have been no allowances for other use.