Temporary vessel restrictions lifted at Māla Wharf in Lahaina

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A boater launches a shallow-draft Zodiac boat Tuesday afternoon at Māla Boat Ramp in Lahaina. PC: Brian Perry

Commercial operators, with permits, will again be able to use Māla Wharf seven days a week beginning Saturday April 13.

Last October, DLNR began restricting access to commercial boats on weekends for many reasons, including:  the absence of a Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) office in West Maui; the lack of operational restrooms; potential health risks from exposure to contaminants in the ocean, and the unsafe conditions of nearshore waters due to debris from the August 2023 wildfires. Concerned Lahaina residents also indicated they wanted commercial operations restricted.

DLNR Chair Dawn Chang is lifting the temporary restrictions following the completion of improvements at the wharf in addition to a legal review. Improvements include temporary office space for DOBOR staff. The Lahaina Small Boat Harbor DOBOR office was destroyed in the wildfires.


An attorney for two commercial operators had requested that the restriction be lifted and in a response letter Chair Chang advised, “Please be aware that we are currently working on amending DOBOR administrative rules to implement commercial activity prohibitions on weekends and holidays at Māla Wharf and other boating facilities, similar to the Kāneohe Bay restrictions on O‘ahu.”

Pending the rules amendments for Māla, DLNR is urging commercial vessel operators to be mindful and sensitive to community concerns regarding the impacts of commercial activities. Among the concerns are limited parking, conflicts between recreational and commercial activities especially on weekends, and safety concerns about nearshore commercial activities.


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