Boat owner fined $43K for damaging live coral and rock in West Hawai‘i waters

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Photos from social media provided by the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The owner of a 54-foot sailing catamaran has been fined more than $43,000 by the state for damaging a total of nearly 160 live coral colonies and pieces of live rock last year in West Hawai‘i waters off the Big Island.

The Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources issued the fine for the owner of the vessel called Avalanche in connection with a social media report May 28, 2021, saying the boat anchored on top of live coral outside Honokōhau Small Boat Harbor. The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources recommended the administrative penalty of $43,417 to compensate the state for damage to natural resources on public lands and the cost of its investigation.

After receiving the report of damage, a Division of Aquatic Resources biologist and Land Department Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers relayed concerns about the Avalanche’s anchorage to the boat’s captain and the biologist conducted a visual survey of the underlying reef.


After the survey and talking with the captain, the vessel pulled anchor and left the area. An underwater assessment June 1, 2021, found extensive damage to 101 coral colonies and 58 pieces of live rock.

“The portion of the penalty not expended to cover the costs of our investigation is placed in a fund dedicated to coral damage response and restoration,” said Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Brian Neilson in a press release. “We appreciate the Land Board’s action in approving what we believe are fair and equitable penalties based on the extent of damage caused … .”


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