Updated: September 29, 2022
The State Board of Land and Natural Resources voted on Friday to implement amended rules limiting and regulating commercial activity in ocean waters at Kahalu‘u Bay on the Kona coast of Hawai‘i Island. The decision comes following an earlier public hearing, and verbal and written testimony submitted by dozens of people.
In revising the rules, DOBOR indicated its primary concerns were for the safety of ocean users and the protection of natural resources. So, its recommendations focused on the bay’s capacity for commercial use. The rules not only cover surfboards, but all non-motorized craft in Zone A of Kahalu‘u Bay.
The Land Board approved the amended rules which authorize DOBOR to issue eight commercial surfing permits in two shifts; four morning-shift permits and four afternoon-shift permits.
The rules (Hawai‘i Administrative Rules) for the popular snorkeling and surfing spot were last amended in 2016.
During a virtual public assessment hearing on Sept. 8, 2021, 20 people provided verbal testimony and another 48 mailed or emailed testimony. DOBOR’s submittal to the land board characterized testifiers as being opposed into two separate groups: (1) those who oppose all commercial activity at Kahalu‘u Bay; and (2) those who oppose commercial operation shifts (largely commercial operators). DOBOR said it does not support an outright ban on commercial activity at the bay.
Some testifiers recommended prohibiting commercial operations on weekends or on Sundays. Since that was not considered in the original proposal, DOBOR will consider weekend/Sunday prohibitions in future rule amendments.