Maui News

County issues emergency permit for removal of private yacht grounded at Honolua Bay

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Photo credit: Kākoʻo Haleakalā via County of Maui

The County of Maui issued an emergency permit to assist in the removal of a private charter yacht that went aground on rocks in the area of Honolua Bay, officials said.

The action comes after attempts to remove the vessel during high tide Monday afternoon failed.

County officials say the state must still issue a corresponding permit for the work that also involves DLNR jurisdiction beginning at the high water mark and into the ocean.  


The County’s emergency Special Management Area permit would allow equipment to access the site via the shoreline and assist in dislodging the vessel from the reef it is resting on and enable it to reach deeper water to exit the area, according to a news release.

“We are pleased to be able to rapidly respond to a situation in dire need. The longer the vessel remains in the sensitive area the higher the risk of damage,” said Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr. 

County officials say there is an increased risk of damage to the reef and ecosystem at Honolua Bay, a marine sanctuary in West Maui.


The emergency permit was authorized by Acting Planning Director Kathleen Ross Aoki following discussions with West Maui Council Member Tamara Paltin and the excavation company.

Following reports of the incident, emergency crews responded to evacuate passengers.

The Malama Kai Foundation issued a press release saying the vessel was tied to a day use mooring buoy overnight, and the vessel’s own mooring line, attaching it to the DMB, failed.


Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, told Maui Now on Monday that day-use moorings have a time limit of 2-hours.

Funding for the installation and maintenance of these day-use mooring buoys has come primarily through private donations and grants to Malama Kai Foundation, and volunteers continue to provide equipment and manpower. 

The foundation reports that coral reefs provide many benefits to the islands, including protection from waves and storm surges as well as habitat for marine life. “Day mooring buoys both protect our nearshore reefs and serve as one component of safe ocean recreation experiences for Hawaiʻi’s residents and visitors,” the organization said.

Hawaiʻi’s first day-use moorings were installed on the Kona coast in 1990 as a partnership among, the State of Hawaiʻi, community members, ocean tourism businesses, non-government organizations, and the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Extension Service.

Today, The Malama Kai Foundation reports there is a statewide system of about 220 day-use moorings around the main Hawaiian Islands which are intended for short-term, day-time use only, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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