Kayakers enjoy the waters of 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve in south Maui. But environmental concerns will prompt state Land Board Chairman Peter Young to propose a limit on the number of commercial kayaks there.

Kayak limit to be proposed
for Maui natural reserve

WAILUKU >> State Land Board Chairman Peter Young will propose a limit on the number of commercial kayaks in the waters of 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve in south Maui.

Young is making the proposal after a two-day assessment in August by state conservation officials and biologists found human activity was harming marine life and geologic features at 'Ahihi-Kina'u.

But Young said based on the assessment, he feels there can be some commercial activity at 'Ahihi-Kina'u.

Young is circulating copies of the draft for comment and tentatively plans to present the proposal to the Natural Area Reserves Commission at its meeting 9 a.m. Oct. 30 at the Kalanimoku Building in Honolulu.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources has the authority to preserve and protect unique biological ecosystems and geological formations in 19 natural area reserves statewide.

'Ahihi-Kina'u, near the most recent lava flow at Haleakala, contains 1,238 acres of land and 807 acres of marine ecosystems, including brackish pools that contain rare shrimp and native Hawaiian coastal animals in lava tubes.

The state bars motorized boats from the preserve, but there is no ban on kayaks, which have become numerous as commercial tours increase.

'Ahihi-Kina'u was once regarded as a remote area, but tour books and the area's reputation for clear waters and bountiful marine life have encouraged hundreds of people to visit the reserve daily, observers note.

A two-day assessment by state conservation officials and biologists found that human activity was detrimental to the marine life and geologic features at 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve in south Maui. There is a move under way to limit the number of commercial kayaks in the area.

The draft document said within 'Ahihi-Kina'u, observers found evidence of coral and rock damage consistent with kayak contact, snorkeling fin strikes, standing and hand breakage at areas known as "Aquarium" and "Fishbowl."

Observers said there was also evidence of sunscreen film in the water and indication of urination in the cove areas. Estrogen-like compounds in urine released into the ocean can harm reproduction in some marine life, the state said.

At Aquarium, Young's draft calls for limiting use of the cove to two groups of nine kayaks, with each group remaining for 1 1/2 hours weekday mornings only.

The proposal suggests prohibiting kayaks from portions of the Aquarium cove or tying up to or standing on any submerged rock or coral in the middle of the cove.

At Fishbowl, the draft proposal calls for a maximum of two groups of 10 kayaks.

Roger Simonot, owner of South Pacific Kayaks, said six kayak businesses, forming the Kayak Association of Maui four months ago, voluntarily agreed to a limit their operation at 'Ahihi-Kina'u.

He said the limitations include restricting each operator to eight kayaks a day and banning solicitation at the marine sites.

Simonot said although the association hasn't reviewed the draft proposal, he's hopeful his group will be able to work with state officials to come up with some guidelines for a permit system.

Ann Fielding, a biologist who conducts occasional educational tours at 'Ahihi-Kina'u, said she believes the numbers of commercial kayaks in Young's proposal should be cut in half.

Fielding said she would be willing to abide by a ban on commercial tours, but she's also worried about the impact of the public on the coves, including snorkelers who damage the coral.

Leslie Kuloloio, a native fisherman, said he was against allowing any kayaks in 'Ahihi-Kina'u.

Kuloloio said presence of people in 'Ahihi-Kina'u upsets the reproductive cycle of marine life.

"It's against the old native practices," he said. "They're just chasing the fish away."

Comments about the proposal may be sent via e-mail to or; or mail to NARS Commission-DLNR, Betsy Gagne, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 224, Honolulu 96813.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --