State takes control of vessel grounded in Lahaina, Maui near Hauola Stone
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation has informed the owner of a grounded vessel in Lahaina, Maui, that the department is taking control of the boat and is immediately hiring a contractor to move the vessel to a safe location.
The 56-foot motorboat, Kuuipo, grounded 10 days ago on the north side of the Lahaina Boat Harbor channel on March 8. The department reported that two boats broke loose from moorings in Lahaina that day due to strong winds.
The boat’s owner, a Wailuku man, told DOBOR staff that he was hiring a salvage company to remove the vessel and was informed that he was prohibited from bringing the boat anywhere near the Hauola Stone (birthing stone) because of its cultural significance.
Saturday morning, DOBOR was informed the Kuuipo was refloated to a location closer to shore and approximately eight feet away from the Hauola Stone.
In a letter today to the owner, Meghan Statts, DOBOR Assistant Administrator wrote, “You are hereby notified that in order to protect this culturally significant site as well as to protect the natural resources…the State of Hawai‘i, through DOBOR, is immediately taking control of Kuuipo.
In addition to the immediate hiring of a contractor to move the vessel away from the birthing stone, DOBOR will hire a salvage contractor to remove the vessel “by any means necessary,” state officials said in a news release today.
Statts added, “Any unauthorized persons found aboard the vessel will be charged with trespassing.” He notified the boat owner that he will be responsible for reimbursing the state for all costs and expenses associated with the removal and disposal of Kuuipo, and all administrative costs.
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are on scene.
DLNR Deputy Director Laura Kaakua shared, “The Hauola stone is where the Pi‘ilani ali‘i line of Maui birthed their children. It is a sacred site. DLNR did not permit the owner to bring their boat anywhere near the stone, and specifically directed the owner to stay far away from the cultural site. The majority of boat owners are responsible, but recent actions by a few have harmed Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural resources. Damage to our reefs and cultures sites is unacceptable. DLNR is exploring ways to enforce responsible ownership to protect our ocean environment.”
The grounding comes following a widely reported yacht grounding and salvage effort off of Honolua Bay in recent weeks, in which the vessel Nakoa was scuttled in 800 feet of water after being freed from the rocky shoreline. The removal of fuel and salvage effort took nearly two weeks from the initial date of grounding on February 20.