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DLNR to Hold Manta Ray Viewing Rules Meeting

September 22, 2016, 10:28 AM HST
* Updated September 22, 10:48 AM
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manta-ray

Manta ray. Photo by Bo Pardau, Second Wave Images.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation will hold an informational meeting for manta ray viewing rules on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hawaii Community College Palamanui Campus located at 73-4255 Ane Keohokalole Highway, in Room B-126, in Kailua-Kona.

The meeting was previously scheduled on Sept. 3 but was postponed due to severe weather.

The Kona Coast’s manta ray viewing experiences are unlike any other in the world.

At this time tours are done in two specific areas where the manta rays feed on plankton and congregate, at Makako Bay, also known as Garden Eel Cove, and at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel coastline.

The first portion of the meeting will focus on discussing the history of manta ray viewing along the Kona Coast. During the second part of the meeting, DOBOR will present in detail the proposed management plan and will collect feedback from all interested stakeholders.

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DOBOR staff and the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources staff, commercial tour operators, the staff of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel and other stakeholders have been working together to draft administrative rules to mitigate environmental hazards, as well as, to decrease the potential risk for accidents causing harm to people or manta rays.

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In 2016, DOBOR has been surveying the two manta viewing sites to figure out how and where moorings could be added to alleviate coral damage from anchoring and to allow for a safe, environmentally friendly and sustainable regulation of commercial manta diving activities.

DOBOR drafted a proposed management plan and a potential management plan for the sites which is based on two years of collected stakeholder input. The proposed management plan contemplates strategies such as prohibiting anchoring at the sites, limiting the number of commercial operators, prohibiting rafting, and restricting live boating to improve safety.

On Sept. 10, DOBOR released the proposed management plan on its website in order to give stakeholders time to review the plan before the Sept. 24 meeting.

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View the proposed management plan and get meeting updates online.

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