Tsuneyoshi offers to help Hawaii
I'M certainly glad I haven't been critical of California's recreational boating program in this column because I've recently discovered the director of that state's Department of Boating and Waterways is a Water Ways reader.
"I read your article in the Star-Bulletin regarding the sad state of affairs faced by the recreational boaters of Hawaii," wrote Raynor Tsuneyoshi in an e-mail message.
"I have to agree with you," the director continued. "I was born and raised on Oahu, spent many summers in Kohala on the Big Island, and know what magic lies in the sparkling blue waters that surround the islands."
Tsuneyoshi went on to say that he now lives in California and has been the state's DBW director for close to five years.
"We have nearly a million registered boats, plus around 70,000 (federally) documented boats and perhaps 250,000 canoes, kayaks and assorted human-powered craft," he told me.
It's not surprising then that he concedes to spending a good deal of his time protecting the dedicated funds that provide his department with the resources to build and renovate launch-ramp facilities and finance both public and private marinas throughout the state.
And Tsuneyoshi, unlike many in Hawaii, understands the relationship of those marinas and facilities to the state's economy.
"(Recreational boating) generates close to $20 billion of direct and indirect revenues to the state of California," he said. "Approximately 10 percent of that accrues directly to state coffers. It is a robust revenue generator."
Also, as it has been noted in this column over the years, recreational boating can be an effective job generator as well.
"We attribute over 370,000 jobs in California that are needed to directly support our boating," the director said. "That's about a third of Hawaii's population."
Tsuneyoshi believes Hawaii is a perfect locale to exploit such an industry, but it has not displayed the will or commitment to do so. He thinks the lack of recognition by the leadership of both political parties that boating creates jobs and dollars for the state has resulted in our sad state of affairs.
"I do hope that the state will realize what a great, untapped opportunity it has," Tsuneyoshi said.
Coincidentally, according to Tsuneyoshi, the Western States Boating Administrators Association -- made up of representatives from Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Montana -- is having its conference on Kauai in May.
The conference is held in part so the states and territories can qualify for federal funding for recreational boating safety enforcement and education.
Perhaps it will also offer our lawmakers and bureaucrats an opportunity to learn how other states deal with recreational boating. Tsuneyoshi says he'd be happy to help.