DLNR Leadership, Chair Dawn Chang and representatives from the Divisions of Boating and Ocean Recreation, Aquatic Resources, and Conservation and Resources Enforcement provided updates to west Maui Boaters during a more than three-hour meeting in Kahului Wednesday morning.
After staff gave updates on Māla Wharf, Lahaina Small Boat Harbor, and Kāʻanapali commercial activities, they fielded questions and comments from more than 200 people.
During a Q&A portion of the presentation, staff addressed issues at Lahaina Harbor saying slip sizes and layout will be considered for its future design, but noted that the facility was already overcrowded prior to the August wildfire.
Concerned residents also raised issues over competing interests including cruise ship impacts, funding for preventative maintenance and over commercialization.
“I propose this for your advisory committee—that it not only be centered around commercial operators and people who have slips—it also should include surfers who use these places, the people who fish in these places, the people who dive and those who use it for traditional and customary rights,” said resident Palele Kiakona.
The Nov. 1 meeting was a followup to two Zoom meetings held on Sept. 13 and Oct. 3, in which community members requested an in-person meeting. The informational meeting provided updates on the status of matters involving the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the US Coast Guard.
“In general, we have reopened Māla Wharf, especially for recreational users 24/7, including those who are transporting ʻohana from Maui to Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. We are limiting commercial activities to the weekdays,” said Chair Dawn Chang. “We’re not permitting shoreline commercial activities Māla Wharf because of the water quality concerns.”
Chang said the department has revisited the issue of the status of Lahaina and Māla use permits to clarify that those who lost their vessels would be placed on a hold-over status, not a waitlist. “Many of you had asked us to explore using expanding Lahiana Harbor to create a trailer park facility to accommodate the Māla commercial vessels,” said Chang, noting that the department is in discussions, but we doesn’t have any firm commitments at this time.
“I wanted to let you know that we are listening to you. We have heard your concerns and we are trying to address them,” said Chang. She said the department is trying to balance recreational and commercial users, with the understanding that DLNR’s primary mission is to preserve and protect cultural and natural resources.