Abandoned boats litter state harbors

Abandoned boats litter state harbors
Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2015 at 11:01 PM HST
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KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)

There are several abandoned boats floating at Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor. On Monday, Hawaii News Now saw at least a half-dozen moored in the mud flats. Jerry Kaluhiwa said he has counted as many as 16, and some have broken apart.

"The thing deteriorated right on the shore line. That wasn't only one. There were several boats," said Kaluhiwa, who serves on the Kaneohe Bay Regional Council

DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation impounds and disposes of abandoned or derelict boats. People dump the vessels and expect the state to clean up the mess.

"It is a waste of the Boating Special Fund," Oahu District Manager Meghan Statts said.

Disposal costs range from $2,000 to $20,000 a vessel, depending on size. Boater's pay for ramp and slip fees and commercial permits.  Their money goes into the special fund.

"And those are the ones that suffer when we have to spend the money in order to dispose of these vessels," Statts said.

Since 2012, the state has impounded more than 150 abandoned boats on Oahu alone. Some owners were found and billed.

"But there are some where the owners try to scrape off the hull identification number, the HA number. So we may never find out who the owner is," Statts said.

Clearing abandoned boats from Heeia Kea Harbor is complicated because a clause in state rules allow unpermitted skiffs and small boats to moor in the mud flats of Kaneohe Bay.

"I see some going into the channel and sinking in the channel," Kaluhiwa said. "You can't see it (the boats) at night if you're going out. It's underwater."

Disposing of the abandoned vessels in the harbor will start with a public notice.

"We have taken some of the steps already to try to determine who the owners are," Statts said.

The state hopes to have Heeia harbor cleared of some of the abandoned boats within a few weeks. Unclaimed vessels worth more than $5,000 will be auctioned.

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