Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Mokulua Isles have no
commercial restrictions

Question: It was my understanding that most of the small islands off Oahu are seabird sanctuaries. I have been warned, and I know of local residents who have been cited by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, for landing on these islands, even though it was only on the sandy areas and just long enough to stretch while paddling. Yet, DLNR allows commercial operations on the Mokulua Islands, which are sanctuaries. Commercial operators use Mokulua as a base camp, serving hot lunch there, and their customers dominate the small beach. How can someone know where DLNR enforces its regulations and where it does not? And why does the state allow commercial use of the seabird sanctuaries?

The Mokuluas off Lanikai have no restrictions against commercial operators, the DLNR says.

Answer: It obviously will surprise you to learn that there are no restrictions against commercial operators visiting the Mokulua Islands, as long as they observe the general restrictions.

"We are working to revise the rules to require a permit for such commercial use," said DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

However, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

"It's going to take awhile," Ward said. "Rules are not a fast-moving thing."

Meanwhile, "as far as we know," there have been no violations by commercial operators of existing rules protecting the seabird sanctuaries, she said.

She also said that kayaks are allowed to land on any island shoreline that's open to the public, such as the Mokuluas.

DLNR manages most of the small islands off Windward Oahu as seabird sanctuaries. Only two, Manana (Rabbit) Island and Moku Manu, are strictly off-limits to the public. That's because many of the bird species nesting on those two islands are said to be "particularly sensitive to human disturbance."

Ward said the citations you mention may be for violating those off-limit rules.

The other islands, including the Mokuluas, may be visited, but with these restrictions: People may go there only during daytime (sunrise to sunset); there is to be no camping, fires or dogs; and people must stay out of the bird-nesting areas.

"If someone has information (about violations), we would want to know about it, but just to say vaguely that (commercial operators are) dominating the area ... it's not something addressed by our rules," Ward said.

According to an informational brochure put out by DLNR, "mokulua" means "two islands." The two "islets" are named Moku Nui (large island) and Moku Iki (small island).

They are among "numerous small islands, islets and rocks" just a few hundred yards offshore to a half mile out that surround Oahu and that are protected as bird sanctuaries.

Scam Warning

I left the Kaheka Street Daiei parking lot on a Tuesday -- Senior Citizen Discount Day -- back in September. A car followed me and stopped me on Piikoi Street. The driver claimed that I hit him. He insisted that I go back to Daiei. I got out of the car and I told him no way did I hit him or he hit me. He was looking at his old car -- a cream-colored Datsun; I didn't get a license number. He looked like a street person. He had someone in the car who said he was a witness. I told him, "Let's go to talk to the policeman," who was directing traffic on Keeaumoku and Kapiolani. He followed me, but turned another way just before I got to the policeman. After I spoke to the policeman, the guy followed me again. He kept saying, "I don't want trouble, I don't want trouble, but give me $40 and everything will be fine." I did not stop. Somehow I got away from him. I did not know who else to call and warn people. He seems to be targeting seniors, especially maybe at Daiei on Tuesdays. He's a scam artist trying to get money. I hope you can warn people about this. -- No Name

We directed you to report the incident to CrimeStoppers, which you did. In fact, Honolulu police Detective Letha DeCaires, who coordinates the CrimeStoppers program, asks anyone else who might come across this obvious scam to call 955-8300.

Apparently, the same person reportedly was working his scam on Thursday, Oct. 21, at Safeway Beretania.

DeCaires first advises that if anyone is involved in any kind of accident to call 911 and file a police report.

"Don't ever hand money over to someone instead of making a police report," she said.

As to what you described, she said, "This is a scam," adding that it was a variation of a scam that was making its rounds a few years ago.

"In those days, they were using crayons to mark the other car to make it look like there was paint transfer," DeCaires said. "This is just the newer version of the old thing we've seen before."


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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