State revokes permit for Big Island tour company

Action part of larger move to restrict activity at Kealakekua

 UPDATED 10:04 AM HST Sep 15, 2012
State will revoke Big Island kayak company's license

This summer, a large wave swept two teenagers who on were on a Hawaii Pack and Paddle adventure tour, out to sea.

One of the teens, 16-year-old Tyler Madoff, was never found.

The company, came under scrutiny and the state voted to sanction the business, saying it violated the conditions of its permit.  The order takes effect in 30 days.

The company’s lawyer, who had hoped for a suspension, said the move could devastate his client.

"Likely it will not put them out of business, it will diminish its work and the livelihood of those who work for and with him,” said Bob Frame.

The state's land board chair said he intends to take more drastic action that could affect other businesses as well.

The three other permitted kayak tour companies were told last month they likely will not be able to continue operating at Kaawaloa Flats, which allows access to the Captian Cook monument, as of Jan. 1.

"We are going to stop access from the road, pedestrian access from the top. We are going to allow Kaawaloa to rest," Aila said.

For decades, management of the bay and the commercial activity in the marine preserve has been an issue. Enforcement has been a problem.

The state parks budget has gone from $8 million down to $3.9 million, according to its deputy administrator Kurt Cotrell.

Now, public safety and the overuse of a culturally sensitive area are prompting this latest crackdown which may also ban recreational kayaking.

"We do not have facilities there, and the complaints we are getting is people are defecating in and around the cultural sites, and taking stones, so it’s coming to a head. Right now we need to take serious steps to deal with it and get it under the control," said Aila.

Aila says his department is prepared for the anticipated push-back.  He didn’t say how long the new restrictions will last.

Aila says the state will be only issuing permits for cultural practices as part of a move to get control over the bay.

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