State gets new boat to beef up patrols off Oahu
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Kimi Andrew
HNN News Intern
The state has welcomed a new enforcement boat into its fleet.
The 30-foot vessel has been named Kia'i, meaning "guardian, to protect, to overlook."
And it will do just that in waters off Oahu.
"The use for the vessel will be supporting our primary mission, which is water safety, boating safety, and also fisheries enforcement," said Robert Farrell, state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement chief.
The state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is responsible for ensuring boats are equipped with safety gear and are in compliance. They also ensure commercial and sport fishing is done legally.
Kia'i, one of the largest vessels in the DOCARE fleet, has a four- to five-hour operational capability and can travel up to 35 knots.
If needed, it could circle the entire island.
The new boat comes after a busy year for the conservation enforcement officers.
On the Fourth of July, for example, DOCARE was out in force off Waikiki after hundreds were rescued at a particularly chaotic "floatilla."
Officials said as many as 10,000 people flocked to the event, in which participants gather in the water on floaties, kayaks, paddleboards and boats. Posts on social media showed crowds of people drinking as they floated in the water.
Last year, the driver of a 24-foot inflatable Zodiak boat ran over two divers in Kailua. One was killed.
The victim's family criticized the state for slack enforcement.
"Boating safety is our no. 1 concern," said Farrell. "And that includes boating around people in the water. We have a lot of rules and regulations that address those things and it's our job to make sure that they are enforced properly in order to avoid some tragic occurrences."
He added that challenge is that laws are keeping up with ever-evolving water activities.
"Fifteen years ago, we didn't really see stand up paddle boarders, we saw surfers, so as the technology changes, or as the activities change, the laws have to keep up with that," he said.
The state hopes to add an additional 30 conservation officers in the near future, bringing the total to 130.
In the meantime, they ask people to use their new DLRNTip app in order to anonymously report any suspicious behavior on the water.
This story may be updated.
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