HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Controversy is growing over a new plan to expand a humpback whale sanctuary in East Oahu.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wants to make Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai a Special Sanctuary Management Area (SSMA), which means more protections for humpback whales and other marine life.
"We feel like NOAA, with our expertise and resources, can actually work with the community to try to help to restore it and make the bay more healthy," said Malia Chow, Sanctuary Superintendent.
However, opponents of the proposal fear if the plan goes through, the bay may not be as user-friendly.
"I can't see within the proposal how we'll carry out dredging or how we'll carry out our daily business without disturbing the ocean floor or going near a turtle," said Jeffrey Krants with "Friends of Maunalua Bay."
Krantz is the owner of SeaBreeze/H20 Sports, which specializes in jet skiing, parasailing, Banana Boat activities, and jet packs.
He, along with several other business owners on the marina, say nearly 200 jobs could be lost.
Sam Montgomery uses the bay for both work and pleasure. He says there are flaws in NOAA's proposal.
"Basically stating that our dredging, once they take over, is only good for one year. They're giving us a one year exemption. After that, it's up to the director of NOAA to decide whether or not we get dredge our marina or not," Montgomery said.
Executive Director for Malama Maunalua says the health of bay is in bad shape and help from the federal government is needed.
"We see this as an opportunity to help everybody else improve the quality of the bay, help us bring back the fishes that are no longer there, improve the corals, and still allows everyone to enjoy the bay the same way they're doing right now," said Frazer McGilvray.
The public comment period ends Friday, June 19.
You can submit your opinions by clicking HERE.