Diver Fatality Prompts Review of Boating Laws

November 23, 2011, 6:31 AM HST · Updated November 23, 4:34 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Lanai, file photo by Wendy Osher.

The Maui Council’s Policy Committee unanimously recommended adoption of a resolution yesterday, urging review and strengthening of the state boating law and related rules.

The resolution comes in direct response to a July 31st incident outside of the Kamalapau breakwater on Lanai, in which a diver was fatally hit by a commercial Zodiac boat.

“Our community is still dealing with the loss of a beloved son of our island,” said Committee Chair Riki Hokama, who introduced the measure.

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Hokama said the tragedy has heightened the need for better safety practices in the ocean waters surrounding the island, which are frequented by boaters and divers alike.

Hokama pointed to testimony received from a Lanai resident urging stronger enforcement and specific regulatory improvements.

Administrative rules already require underwater swimmers or divers in navigable waters of the state to mark their position with a divers flag; the rules also limit all vessels on waters of the state to a slow-no-wake speed when within 200 feet of any divers flag.

The resolution also urges action by the State Legislature and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to consider requiring an owner or operator of a boat registered in the state to take a safe boating course.

Further discussion is expected to surface at the council’s December 2nd meeting.

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