Planning on hitting the windward beaches this holiday weekend? Watch out, law enforcement will be out in full force.
The city and state have combined forces to protect Oahu’s offshore islets, like Mokulua Islands and Flat Island.
Restrictions include no alcohol, no dogs and no camping. Anyone caught doing illegal activity will get a huge fine and possible jail time.
It’s the city’s and state’s attempt at balancing resource protection with recreation. Officials want people to understand the rules, what they’re trying to protect and to ensure they use the offshore islets responsibly.
All 15 of Oahu’s offshore islets are state wildlife sanctuaries. Mokulua Islands and Flat Island, located on the windward side, are the most visited. These islets are home to endangered birds.
“Urbanization and the development of Oahu in general have really taken away the habitat these birds have left,” said Jason Misaki, Oahu Branch Wildlife Biologist with Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Illegal activity, like camping on the islands, has killed a lot of birds.
“We had a number of instances where birds have died from hitting these structures at night,” said Wes Mundy, Oahu District 4 supervisor with DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
This weekend, officers will be out enforcing the rules, and that’s not the only problem officials are bracing for this weekend.
“On the backside of the Mokulua Islands, time and time again we’re seeing an alarming number of injuries,” said Shayne Enright, Honolulu Emergency Services public information officer. “Please stop jumping off of the cliffs. Yes, it can be fun, but we’re having serious injuries, critical injuries.”
In 2014, lifeguards prevented 20,000 injuries from happening, but they had to do 43 rescues. “We don’t want you to end up in the emergency room,” warned Enright.
Officials say most people kayak or standup paddleboard to Mokulua Islands or Flat Island.
“Please know you should be able to swim back if you lose those devices. You need to be strong swimmers. Please don’t just rely on the lifeguards to help you out. Yes, of course we are going to be there, but know your capabilities,” said Enright.