Report Title:

Moratorium on Dolphin Tour Operator Permits in Waianae

Description:

Institutes a moratorium on dolphin tour operator permits in Waianae to protect the nearshore habitat populations of the resident Hawaiian spinner dolphins and akule nurseries.

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2437

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to ocean recreation.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that few sectors of the tourism industry have experienced the same levels of growth in such a concentrated period of time as whale- and dolphin-based operations. As the popularity of interacting with marine mammals in the wild increases, managers of these operations face the challenge of providing a service while protecting the target species. Few forms of tourism provide a greater challenge in accurately understanding the impacts of tourism on marine resources and appropriate management responses.

As a result of the increased popularity, the number of dolphin tour operations in the Waianae coast region have reached a perceived capacity, and any further growth of dolphin tour operations may bring undue pressures on the nearshore habitats and populations of the Hawaiian spinner dolphins and increased user conflicts with akule fisheries. In response to the increased number of dolphin tour operations, existing operators in the Waianae coast have self-imposed limitations on the number of passengers carried and trips per day and agreed to develop and follow a code of ethics for operating in the Waianae coastline area. These efforts are, in part, due to the remoteness of the coastal area, difficulty in policing the area, and a desire to act as a role model in community-driven resource and conservation management.

The purpose of this Act is to clarify the department's authority over commercial dolphin-watching tours in state waters and protect the dolphins and other offshore marine wildlife in the Waianae coast area by imposing a moratorium on the issuance of additional permits to dolphin tour operations.

SECTION 2. Chapter 200, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"200-   Waianae coast dolphin tour permits; restrictions. Permits issued by the department for the commercial operation of dolphin tour activities on the Waianae coast of Oahu shall be limited to a total of eight permits. If current holders of existing permits withdraw from use of a permit, then the unused permits shall be evenly distributed between Ko Olina marina and Waianae state small boat harbor, so that each shall be assigned four permits.

For the purposes of this section, "dolphin tours" means commercial operations of tours for the observation of cetaceans, including dolphins and whales."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________