Cat feeding ban among long list of proposed changes for harbors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is proposing a long list of changes for state harbors aimed at addressing longstanding concerns.

But don't expect all of the scores of draft rules to sit well with boaters.

Among the proposed changes: No more "pau hana" at state harbors. Currently, boaters can drink alcohol while on their vessels, but the state doesn't want that happening in other parts of the harbors.

Under a proposed rule, harbor rules would mirror county laws regarding open alcohol containers.

"People come in, they're drinking at night, they're partying in the parking lot, things like that, broken bottles in the morning." said Ed Underwood, administrator for the state's Boating Division.

Tom Gann, a resident who lives on his vessel at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, said the unregulated drinking is putting people at risk.

"We've had several people fall in the water because they've been too drunk, so confining the alcohol consumption to the boat isn't a bad idea either," he said.

Another rule being discussed would change how boaters can remain anchored.

Right now, boaters can drop anchor anywhere in state waters for up to 72 hours, then they're supposed to move. But some are skirting the rules.

"What's happening is that after the 72 hours expires, people move their boats 10 feet and they say now I get another 72 hours," Underwood said.

New regulations would force boaters to leave their anchoring area entirely.

There's also a proposed change involving the feeding of feral cats, which will likely prove controversial.

The state wants to ban people from feeding wildlife and feral animals at harbors, and also wants to prohibit anyone from abandoning an animal on the properties.

Underwood said cat feeders are leaving mounds of cat food out at harbors daily, contributing to a feral cat problem, but also attracting birds, mongoose and rats.

The Hawaiian Humane Society has already opposed the proposed feeding ban, calling it "inhumane" and "ineffective."

"The proposed rule change would punish free roaming cats in response to what appears to be irresponsible behavior by a few people," the society said.

Public hearings on the proposed changes will be held in March. The draft rules aren't yet online, but will be posted here.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.