Maui News

State discusses second attempt to collect fines from owners of Nakoa super yacht

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Nakoa salvage operation – Honolua Bay (March 5, 2023). PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi

Six months after reaching a settlement with owners of a luxury yacht for its grounding, removal and damage to natural resources, the owners still have not paid the thousands of dollars owed to the state.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday agreed to defer discussion on efforts to revisit the collection of fines from the owners of the Nakoa luxury yacht, until after the department holds a community meeting in West Maui.

The board had imposed a $117,471.97 fine in July 2023 under a tentative settlement agreement with the owners for damage to stony coral and live rock during the vessel’s grounding outside the Honolua-Mokulē‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District on Maui in February 2023.


But state officials say the owners, identified as Jim Jones, Noelani Yacht Charters, LLC, Kevin and Kimberly Albert, and the Albert Revocable Trust, have not paid any of the settlement amount.

The matter resurfaced at the board’s regular meeting in an agenda item raised by the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources. The topic drew testimony from multiple community members in July, and again on Friday.

The DAR submittal notes, “The Nakoa grounding incident caused considerable angst and emotional distress to the public, especially to residents of northwest Maui. The DLNR does not have a tool to obtain a monetary value for emotional distress and cultural damage to the public, but DAR acknowledges the volumes of public testimony received at the July 2023 meeting regarding their emotional distress and cultural damage. Therefore, the DLNR leaves the decision to levy additional appropriate fines against the responsible parties to the Board in its discretion.”


At the conclusion of last July’s meeting, the Alberts and their trust reached a tentative agreement with the BLNR in which they would agree to pay the settlement amount for damage to natural resources, the restoration of natural resources, and the cost of the DLNR investigation. In return, the BLNR agreed to release them from any and all liability from current and future claims by the State, deriving from the Feb. 20, 2023, grounding incident off Maui. The BLNR reserved its right to assess fines and penalties against Jim Jones and Noelani Yacht Charters at a later date.

According to the DAR submittal, “Nearly six months have passed since the July 28, 2023, Board meeting and, despite numerous requests to the Alberts to finalize and pay the settlement amount, the settlement has not materialized.” The new submittal included all the owners.

The Nakoa broke loose from its mooring, was adrift, and ultimately grounded on the rocky shoreline between Honolua Bay and Līpoa Point. It took weeks to prepare the boat for removal and to conduct salvage operations. A salvage team determined the vessel was not salvageable and it was scuttled in 800-feet of water off Maui’s west coast, where it remains.


DAR conducted two natural resources damage assessments and found that 1,640.5 square meters of live rock were damaged and at least 119 living coral colonies were damaged or destroyed. Hawai‘i Administrative Rules lay out a fine schedule for each specimen damaged or destroyed in a boat grounding, though the BLNR has broad discretion in assessing fines.

*Maui Now’s Wendy Osher contributed to this report.


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