How close is too close? Coast Guard issues important reminder for boaters

How close is too close? Coast Guard issues important reminder for boaters

PUNA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Coast Guard officials are reminding mariners of important restrictions while sailing near the Puna flow.

Officials are continuing to enforce a 300-meter (984 feet) safety zone around all active lava entry points into the ocean from Kilauea.

Lava from the flow continues to pour into the ocean, creating new land and even a tiny peninsula.

"Future entry points of lava will continue to vary and require safety zone(s) at entry points," the Coast Guard said in a recent marine safety bulletin.

The reminder comes after more than 20 people were injured from a lava explosion while sailing near the ocean entry Monday morning.

Any mariner wanting to gain access closer than the 300-meter safety zone had to gain prior approval from the Coast Guard, or they could face criminal and civil penalties.

Pre-approved vessels could previously get as close as 50-meters. After Monday's incident, the 300-meter safe zone applies to all mariners.

The company involved in Monday's incident is one of several permitted lava boat tours in operation. However, that same company was previously cited by the DLNR for conducting tours without proper permits.

The operator was fined $15,000 in February last year on three violations.

Hawaii County Fire officials said the tour boat involved in Monday's incident got as close as 200 yards offshore.

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