The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation has informed the owner of Kuuipo that the agency is taking control of the boat to avoid potential damage to a culturally significant site, according to a news release.
The 56-foot motorboat had been grounded on the north side of the Lahaina Boat Harbor channel since March 8. Owner Vernon Ray Lindsey of Wailuku told DOBOR he was hiring a salvage company to remove the vessel. In turn, DOBOR informed Lindsey to not bring the boat anywhere near the Hauola Stone (birthing stone) because it is a significant cultural site.
On Sat., March 18, DOBOR was informed the vessel had been refloated to a location closer to shore and was now approximately eight feet away from the Hauola Stone.
Meghan Statts, DOBOR assistant administrator, wrote a letter on Saturday to Lindsey stating, “You are hereby notified that in order to protect this culturally significant site, as well as protect the natural resources … the State of Hawaii, through DOBOR, is immediately taking control of Kuuipo.”
Statts also stated, “Any unauthorized persons found aboard the vessel will be charged with trespassing. You are further notified that you (Lindsey) will be responsible for reimbursing the state for all costs and expenses associated with the removal and disposal of Kuuipo, and all administrative costs. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are on scene.”
Lindsey was also told he would be liable for damage to coral and/or live rock because of the grounding and salvage operation.
“The Hauola stone is where the Pi‘ilani ali‘i line of Maui birthed their children. It is a sacred site,” said DLNR Deputy Director Laura Kaakua. “DLNR did not permit the owner to bring their boat anywhere near the stone, and specifically directed the owner to stay far away from the cultural site. The majority of boat owners are responsible, but recent actions by a few have harmed Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources. Damage to our reefs and cultures sites is unacceptable. DLNR is exploring ways to enforce responsible ownership to protect our ocean environment.”
Sarah Yamanaka covers events, environmental and community news for Spectrum News Hawaii. She can be reached at email@example.com.