Enforcement, clean-up efforts ramped up for July Fourth 'Floatilla'

Enforcement, clean-up efforts ramped up for July Fourth 'Floatilla'
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawai'i's near shore waters and coastlines fall under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources -- and conservation officers
were out in full force for the Fourth of July "floatilla" in Waikiki.

DOCORE officers conducted patrols on six jet skis and from two vessels.

It's not illegal for anyone over 21 to drink alcohol in the water, but captains can be cited for boating while intoxicated.

Officers weren't carding any of the partygoers, but said they would be approaching anyone who looked underage.

DOCARE officers were also boarding vessels to check for proper paperwork and to ensure there were enough life jackets for every passenger. Captains face a fine of $100 for each person without a flotation device.

An unregistered boat full of young people who were drinking without lifejackets had to be escorted back to the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor. The operator of the boat was cited for three violations and the boat was impounded.

"This boat was an accident waiting to happen. You mix alcohol, with boating, sun exposure and the lack of safe operations and equipment and it's probably only a matter of time before someone would have gotten hurt," DOCARE Chief, Guy Chang said.

Officers were taking passenger counts to ensure vessels were not overcrowded, which can result in a ticket as well.

City and County Ocean Safety crews were also on patrol to keep an eye out for swimmers who might need assistance, and helped several return back to

DLNR officers enforcement on the water was in conjunction with HPD officers on land, who were patrolling beach parks to cite for littering and prevent underage drinking.

In addition to the law enforcement efforts, a team of volunteers with Sustainable Coastlines spent Independence Day keeping Waikiki waters free of
litter and debris.

"We saw a need and decided instead of just pointing fingers and complaining, to do something about it and be pro-active about keeping our coastlines
and our ocean floor clean," explained Kahi Pacarro, Sustainable Coastlines Hawai'i's Executive Director.

Dozens of abandoned floats and empty beer cans and bottles littered the beachfront of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel after
a "floatilla" on Memorial Day -- leading many community leaders to raise concerns about the Fourth of July went and whether restrictions are needed.

Pacarro insists partgoers don't need regulations to learn to behave, and says his non-profit organization aims to educate and empower them to be more

For the last five years Sustainable Coastlines has hosted a beach clean up each month from the south point of Hawai'i Island all the northwest to
the Kure Atoll, but every Fourth of July they take their efforts to the water.

More than two dozen volunteers gathered at Kewalo Harbor to take a catamaran out to where hundreds of people were celebrating the Fourth of July.

"If we want to keep continuing these events, then we need to do them in a sustainable and respectful manner for the entire island," said Jessica Hodge,
a volunteer.

Using stand-up paddle boards and SUPsquatches, the clean-up team approached boats and people who are floating to let them know they have an option for their trash and to educate them about the non-profit's mission.
"To be out here on the Fourth of July is especially important, because often the debris is placed here from the people out on the water and so it's
a little different than it washing up on shore from being out of our control," said Trisha Martin, another volunteer.

Instead, participants say their Fourth of July efforts afford them the opportunity to catch trash before it floats out into the open ocean or eventually onto a beach.

Volunteers also dived. for rubbish to clear the ocean floor of whatever may have sunk.

"When the mass of people are together partying, it's quite a scene. You dive underwater and it looks like rain of trash," described Pacarro.

Everything is hauled on-board -- where plastics, trash, glass, and aluminum are then sorted.

"90% of all marine debris is plastics, so we want to perpetuate and facilitate the education of removing all that litter from the oceans and we're
doing our small part here to try to collect all that and to keep Hawai'i pristine in nature -- to keep Hawai'i Hawai'i," explained Wesley Wong.

Over the last five years, Sustainable Coastlines estimates they've collected 1,500 pounds of trash just cleaning up at the Fourth of July "floatilla."

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