Illegal Rental of Kayak Draws Maximum Civil Fine
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources on Friday received approval to assess a civil fine of $2,500 against a Captain Cook man for the alleged illegal soliciting of kayak rentals at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.
The fine approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was the maximum allowed for violating the rule prohibiting commercial activities in state parks without a proper permit.
The land board also tacked on administrative costs of $753 for the violation assessed against 39-year-old Alexander Aquino.
As previously reported by Big Island Now, Aquino and another Captain Cook man, Nathan Kolii, 27, were arrested Nov. 21 for prohibited commercial activities after a DLNR officer went undercover at Napoopoo Beach.
The DLNR has not targeted Kolii for a civil fine.
Aquino holds a special use permit that allows people to use his rented kayaks in the bay, but it is not a commercial permit that allows him to solicit customers in the park itself, DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said. Violation of those terms is grounds for revocation of the permit, she said.
A marked increase in ocean activities in the area, primarily kayak launchings at Napoopoo wharf and landings at Kaawaloa Flats, prompted the DLNR to issue a moratorium on those activities in January 2013. Only the three companies that already had proper permits were allowed to continue those activities.
“This case shows that DLNR is taking enforcement action to curb a prolific business in illicit sales and services that have had detrimental impacts on the community and the park environment,” DLNR Director William J. Aila Jr. said in a statement today.
“We have provided opportunity for a limited number of responsible commercial vendors to service a manageable number of clients going to Kaawaloa, and share in stewardship responsibility,” Aila said. “We have also provided a simple process for ocean recreational users to obtain permits to allow them to enjoy the bay’s waters.”
Last year, the department issued a total of 447 special use permits, 354 of which were for non-commercial users.
The DLNR noted that in addition to the civil proceedings before the land board, criminal cases are still pending against both Aquino and Kolii.
Neither made an appearance as scheduled for a hearing Friday in Kona District Court, according to Deputy Prosecutor Britt Bailey.
Bailey said she has asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for the men for “failure to appear,” which is a misdemeanor.