Competing interests crowd Leeward seas
A meeting will look at recreation, fishing and dolphin tours
Waianae Coast fishermen complain that increases in recreational and tourism boating have disturbed their traditional fishing spots between Ko Olina and Kaena Point.
Surfers and divers have battled over their different uses of offshore areas at Makaha, and state and federal wildlife officials worry that commercial "swim-with-dolphins" experiences are disturbing the animals.
State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials want to know if there is there a way for everyone who wants to use the ocean on Oahu's Waianae Coast to get along.
A consulting firm working for the department is looking for answers at a public meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Waianae Community Center.
A several-years-old "gentleman's agreement" among fishers and commercial tour operators does not seem to be working now that the number of tour operators has doubled, said Waianae Neighborhood Board member Jo Jordan.
"It's beginning to look like fishermen against tourist guys," Jordan said. But the picture is even more complex, she said.
Companies want to farm fish in huge offshore cages, but residents wonder if that would attract sharks or pollute the water.
Ko Olina Resort is expanding, and Haseko intends to build a marina at its Ocean Pointe development in Ewa.
"You can see that in next five to 10 years, we're going to have a freeway on the ocean," Jordan said. "We need to start making some rules out here and protect whatever resources we have left."
At Tuesday's meeting, facilitator Hillarie Keehne of Townscape Inc. will summarize the concerns of Waianae Coast ocean users that she has heard in a series of focus group meetings this fall, she said.
"We'll go over the main issues or themes and see if we're on target," Keehne said, and ask people, "Are there other things?"
Keehne's job on a $24,000 consulting contract is to compile the public comments and identify possible solutions. However, her report to the DLNR early next year will not call for official rules, she said.
Some believe that the Waianae Coast needs an Ocean Recreation Management Area, which would spell out what activities are allowed in what areas. Waikiki and the North Shore both have such rules.
Legislation passed in 2005 calls for the DLNR to prepare a "baseline environmental study" as a prerequisite to creating an Ocean Recreation Management Area. However, the study was not funded.