DLNR officers to patrol Kaneohe sandbar over Fourth of July weekend

Photo: DLNR

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will patrol Kaneohe Bay to ensure a safe and family-friendly holiday weekend.

State law prohibits the possession, use or consumption of alcohol; loud, abusive or disorderly conduct; and the presence of persons under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or non-prescription drugs in an area designated as the Ahu o Laka safety zone, also known as the Kaneohe Sandbar.

“The state continues to act to support public safety and respect for Ahu o Laka as a unique natural resource and cultural area,” said William Aila Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have listened to the concerns of families and responsible boaters in striking a balance that applies needed rules and enforcement to three summer holiday weekends, which were historically the times when there were larger crowds, and when drinking and unruly behavior caused more disturbances.”

Enforcement officers will patrol both on the water and in Heeia Kea small boat harbor from Friday through Sunday in an effort to promote safe boating during the three-day weekend.

The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources said no citations were issued for illegal drinking and disorderly conduct on Memorial Day.

Officers said rainy weather was likely responsible for the comparatively low number of boaters and recreationalists on the water.

However, weather is expected to be sunny and hot this weekend.

The following information is provided by DLNR:

Safety reminders for boaters
DLNR reminds boaters of the following boating safety carriage requirements for recreational vessels: certificate of number (State registration), properly fitted life-jackets for everyone aboard, (passengers under the age of 13 must wear life jackets at all times while away from the dock), proper combination of visual distress signals, appropriate number and type of fire extinguishers, a sound producing device like a whistle, horn or bell appropriate for the vessel size, and navigation lights for night-time operation of for periods of limited visibility. Click here for more information.

The rule establishes a rectangular safety zone in the middle of Kaneohe Bay that is just over a square mile in area, comprising the majority of the sandbar and defined by six marker buoys. Provisions of the rule are meant to protect the public while visiting Ahu o Laka on three designated holiday weekends in summer – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, including any three-day weekend associated with these holidays.

The sandbar rule first took effect over the July 4, 2012, weekend and has a sunset provision in three years (August 2015) to allow the department time to monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and need for continuance or modification at that time. Click here to read the rule in its entirety.

Under Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 13-256-73.13 Ahu o Laka Safety Zone, violations may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 or less than $50 for each violation, in addition to administrative fines, fees, costs and damages. Persons cited will be processed administratively at a public meeting before the Land Board. Persons wishing to contest the infraction(s) may request a contested case hearing.

A 120-day emergency rule that was in operation during the Independence Day, Admission Day and Labor Day weekends in 2011 resulted in a calmer, family-friendly environment. During that time DLNR issued a total of eight citations for unauthorized possession of alcohol, and fines issued by the land board ranged from $50 to $500.

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