New rules will limit kayaking, paddling at Kealakekua Bay

KEALAKEKUA BAY, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an effort to "improve the management, quality and sustainability" of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources will temporarily limit the use of certain vessels in waters at the park.

Beginning on January 2, 2013, there will be no operating, launching, transiting, beaching or landing of kayaks and other vessels from Napoopoo, within the waters of Kealakekua Bay, and at Kaawaloa Flats.

Also prohibited in the closed area will be other floatation devices and watercraft such as stand-up paddle boards, surfboards, and boogie boards. However, these items can still be used outside the closed area. Swimming and snorkeling are allowed in the bay, but no landing anywhere or entry at Kaawaloa will be permitted.

"DLNR recognizes Kealakekua State Historical Park's deep cultural significance, the quality of its marine resources and the overall economic value to both the local community and the visitor industry," said William J. Aila Jr., DLNR chairperson. "This management action is needed to ensure the sustainability of this resource now and in the future."

The proliferation and use of unpermitted kayak rentals being conducted at Napoopoo have resulted in concerns about their subsequent impact on the general public's experience and the quality of resources in the water and at Kaawaloa Flats.

Specific vessels with existing permits will be allowed, and new permits for specific vessels --which will only be allowed to transit the water -- are being prepared.

Once certain planned management and regulatory action is completed, the launching and landing of kayaks at Napoopoo and Kaawaloa Flats will be allowed.

The Division of State Parks is developing an online permitting system that will allow permits for a maximum number of kayak rentals to be used by visitors per day, and will issue annual permits for residents' kayaks along with pre-existing authorized kayak tour operators with established patronage limits.

After the moratorium is lifted, all commercial activity, and recreational kayak and vessel use at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park will require a permit.

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