No locals allowed! Only rented kayaks can enter bay
Longtime residents of Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island are upset two commercial kayak companies have been allowed to reenter the ocean while a ban on personal kayaks remains in place.
Gordon Leslie, who traces his family's roots to the area, held a small protest Monday to demonstrate against a plan put into place by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
"The feeling is that it's very, very not right," Leslie told KITV4.
DLNR placed a moratorium on kayaks and other floatation devices entering the bay on Jan. 1 as a way to control unpermitted rentals. On Monday, the agency began slowly rolling back the ban by allowing Aloha Kayaks and Kona Boys to rent up to 24 kayaks each per day. Both companies are required to pay DLNR $5 per passenger as a condition of the revocable permits.
DLNR Director William Aila says his agency is trying to come up with a permitting process that would allow Kealakekua locals and other Hawaii residents to enter the bay for a small processing fee.
"What's proving problematic for us is right now, is trying to avoid the residents getting a daily permit," said Aila. "We thought about an online system, but the technology has yet to be figured out so that one group cannot get all of the online permits at one time."
Leslie is against the issuance of permits for residents, and wants DLNR to come up with an alternate plan. He says residents came up with their own proposal that involves the control of parking in an area just mauka of the Kealakekua pier.
"Everyone in the village embraces that plan," said Leslie. "They need to get away from this idea about permitting, (and) they just need to find a good management plan for the bay."
Aila could not say for certain when a permitting system for residents would be up and running, and urged Kealakekua residents to exercise patience.
"As we try to fashion these permits, making them foolproof is proving very difficult," said Aila. "We would ask for the community's patience."
Residents and tourists are still allowed to swim or snorkel at Kealakekua Bay as the ban on non-rented kayaks and other floatation devices continue.
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