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SENATOR MCKELVEY ASKS BLNR FOR STRINGENT PENALTIES AGAINST NAKOA OWNERS

At its meeting on January 26, 2024, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider enforcement action against the owners of the vessel Nakoa, which, in February 2023, damaged and destroyed 119 specimens of stony coral and 1640.5 square meters of live rock when it grounded outside the Honolua-Mokulēʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District.

Senator Angus L.K. McKelvey (District 6, West Maui, Māʻalaea, Waikapū, South Maui)

 

State Senator Angus L.K. McKelvey (District 6, West Maui, Māʻalaea, Waikapū, South Maui) submitted testimony to the Board offering his full support for the Board to impose the maximum penalty under the law against Nakoa’s owners for the devastating damage caused to the reef at Honolua Bay. As the Senator for the area encompassing Honolua Bay, McKelvey testified that he is “dedicated to advocating for the protection and preservation of Hawaii's natural resources and is compelled to express his concern and assert the need for appropriate consequences for such actions.”


According to McKelvey, various sources have provided detailed accounts of the incident, documenting the severity of the damage inflicted upon the reef ecosystem at Honolua Bay, and that “the reef, a vital habitat for numerous marine species and a popular destination for divers and snorkelers, has suffered irreparable harm due to the actions of the Nakoa's owners.”


In his testimony to the Board, McKelvey stressed that “aquatic life has been disrupted, fragile coral formations have been decimated, and the ecological balance of the reef has been severely compromised. Furthermore, the destruction of this natural treasure has had a significant impact on the local community, which relies on cultural and recreational activities centered around Honolua Bay.”


“It is crucial to recognize that the imposition of the maximum penalty allowed by law for such offenses serves as an essential deterrent to prevent future incidents and protect Hawaii's natural assets,” said Senator McKelvey. “The severity of this incident warrants a strong response from the Board, demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding our coastal ecosystem and sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated. ”


“I firmly believe that the owners of the vessel Nakoa must be held accountable for their actions and be subjected to the fullest extent of the law,” Senator McKelvey emphasized. “I stand with the community and urge the Board to take all necessary measures to ensure that justice is served and the maximum penalty is imposed in this case.”



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