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February 1999

Maritime commission update

Hawaii cows ’n cars ride in new equipment|

Y2K and EOW: Ready or not, here they come

Maalaea Harbor’s muddy mess

Logistics means business for Matson

Congress to ponder “cruises to nowhere”

Marine Casualties

News Briefs
 
Soundings:  Anti-business policies sinking industry

 

 

 

Maritime commission seeks more time

Governor Ben Cayetano’s two-month delay in appointing members to the temporary maritime authority commission established by the Hawaii Legislature last year got the group off to a late start.

The 15-member commission was charged with examining the consolidation of four state departments and agencies to create a Hawaii Maritime Authority and to make recommendations to the legislature.

The group’s first meeting took place on October 23, nearly three months behind schedule, and too late to meet the December 20 deadline to submit a final report and proposed legislation to Hawaii lawmakers.

Just days before the January 28 deadline to submit bills for consideration this session, commissioners were still trying to reach consensus on a motion to set up a maritime authority with a policy-making board, an executive director and three divisions: Harbors, boating and Aloha Tower development. The Hawaii Community Development Authority would be excluded from the authority in exchange for giving up its jurisdiction over lands at piers 1 and 2 and at Kewalo Basin. The motion fell one vote short of an 8-vote majority of commissioners.

While the maritime authority won’t become a reality this session,  House Bill 14 seeks to extend the life of the temporary commission for another year, giving the group more time to work on the structure and responsibilities of the authority and prepare legislation for next year.

Clint Taylor, Sea-Land Service’s representative on the commission and a driving force in keeping the group moving forward, says that while he is disappointed that the commission did not make more progress, he remains optimistic that with the continued support of the Cayetano Administration, details of a maritime authority can be worked out.

“I think it will happen, but it will take longer,” Taylor said. “I feel we’re really close.”  

 

 

Hawaii cows ’n cars ride in new equipment

by Tom Kaser

Hawaii cattle growers and Matson Navigation Co. have developed special 40-foot containers to efficiently ship two key commodities — cattle and cars — between Hawaii and the Mainland.

The cattle growers are using “cowtainers” to move their animals to market on the West Coast, and Matson has introduced custom-built auto frames that carry larger vehicles with less chance of damage in transit. Both new pieces of equipment have proved to be remarkably successful, Matson and the cattle growers say.

Matson and Hyundai Precision America jointly developed the auto frames to enable Matson to carry wide-body vehicles, mini-vans and light trucks as efficiently as cars.
So far, Matson has spent $3 million to acquire 200 of the frames, “and they have both increased our stowage capacity and reduced claims for damage incurred in transit,” says Matson spokesman Jeff Hull. “We’re very happy with this outcome.”

The auto frames are built of high-strength steel that can support up to 12,000 pounds on their upper level and 8,000 pounds on the lower level. They also have a wider track width than conventional auto frames do, and internal clearance between centerposts has been increased, allowing more vehicles to pass through the frame without requiring time-consuming adjustments and damage to their side mirrors.

Cattle call

The need for special cattle containers is underscored by the fact that Hawaii has no commercial slaughterhouses or feedlots. Some Hawaii cattle are shipped directly to Mainland slaughterhouses, but most are younger animals that need to be fattened up in West Coast pastures first.

All of Hawaii’s cattle are shipped to the West Coast on Matson ships because Hawaii’s other primary ocean carrier, Sea-Land Service, sends most of its vessels to Guam and Asia after they leave Hawaii. All of Matson’s ships to Hawaii turn around and return to the West Coast.

Getting Hawaii cattle to the Mainland can sometimes be a headache, says Peter Craig, owner of Pacific Livestock Inc. of Dixon, Calif. He also owns the Big Island’s Onomea Ranch. About six years ago, he and other Hawaii ranchers formed Pacific Cowtainer Inc. and built the state’s first “cowtainer” — a 40-foot, double-decked container that gives cattle all the fresh air, food and water they need.

Today Pacific Cowtainer has 21 cowtainers. The company worked with Matson to design a new type of container that was put into service last June: a flat-rack cattle carrier that has a screen for a roof and can be disassembled for the empty backhaul to Hawaii, thus reducing freight costs.

Another cattle ranchers’ group, the Hawaii Cattle Producers Cooperative Association (HCPCA), has requested and received from the Hawaii Board of Agriculture a $127,000 loan to build five new cowtainers, bringing the group’s fleet to 19.

The first cowtainers built by both groups — and a few that have been built by individual Hawaii cattle growers — were made of steel, but they soon corroded beyond use because of the salt air to which they were constantly exposed. Thus all the containers being built today are made of aluminum.

Lani Petrie, the HCPCA’s general manager, says the 40 ranchers who are members of her organization feel the Jones Act impedes their ability to compete with the big beef-
producing nations, especially New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
“What our members need is access to livestock carriers, but none of those vessels are U.S.-flagged, and for us to create one would mean to build it at a U.S. shipyard and operate it with a U.S. crew, all of which means big expense,” Petrie says.

Pacific Cowtainer’s Craig says shipping cattle by sea is “dicey, labor-intensive, frustrating work” because it depends on several people working together — and a bit of cooperation from the weather.

“The scheduling is extremely critical because you can’t just leave cattle waiting if something goes wrong. They have to be fed, watered and tended to 24 hours a day. If the ship they’re waiting for comes in late, such as because of a storm at sea, you’ve got to make arrangements for them to be put somewhere and taken care of.”

Currently, about 90 percent of the cattle transported in the company’s cowtainers are younger “wean-off” animals weighing 400 to 550 pounds and bound for grass-feeding on the Mainland. For them, the slaughterhouse is many months away.

Craig says the new flat-rack carrier is meant for ranchers who want to grow their cattle to 750 or 800 pounds before shipping them to the Mainland for a quick turn at a feedlot before going to the slaughterhouse. 

Tom Kaser is a former business writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. He now lives in Washington state where he teaches college-level writing and is a full-time freelance writer focusing on Pacific maritime issues.

 

 

Y2K and EOW: Ready or not, here they come

by Mele Pochereva

The much discussed “Year 2000,” or Y2K problem and the less pervasive GPS “End of Week  (EOW) Rollover” issue are looming ever closer on the horizon, and the maritime industry — like others around the globe— continues to grapple with possible effects they may have on the safe, orderly flow of operations.

In the shipping industry alone, the potential for major problems is enormous, especially considering that 95 percent of the goods entering the United States arrives by ship. The industry not only must address Y2K issues as they affect the many computerized internal systems on vessels— navigation, propulsion, timekeeping, cargo operations, communications — but also as they affect shoreside systems such as tracking cargo and fleet movement, electronic tariff filing, customs clearance and other electronic data exchange.

Adding to the challenge are uncertainties regarding the reliability of such external interfaces as gas, water, electricity, phone service and other utilities, particularly in some foreign countries that may have limited resources for Y2K modifications or began their efforts too late.

Essentially, every automated or semi-automated function within a company needs to be inspected to see if the imbedded computer chips are Y2K compliant. If they are programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year, the switch to “00" at midnight, December 31, could be read as ”1900" or an invalid date. The impact all of this will have at local and global levels is impossible to predict.

A more reassuring message comes from the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office which is responsible for the $19 billion Global Positioning System. The group has determined that all generations of GPS satellites are unaffected by the Y2K issue.

GPS Rollover

Well before December 31 rolls around, however, the maritime industry and others who rely on the Global Positioning System will face another important date change at midnight on August 21:  the GPS End of Week Rollover.  It’s a phenomenon that can be expected every 19.6 years.

It originates from the date the GPS satellite system was launched, at midnight, January 5/6, 1980. At that time the system was programmed for 1,024 weeks of operation before it would need to be reset. August 21 is the date that week 1,023 rolls over to week 0 again.
While the GPS satellites and military receivers are unaffected by the rollover, civilian GPS users may encounter problems with their individual units. Similar to the millenium bug, the EOW rollover could mean that some units, particularly older ones, will read “0000" as an invalid date. Stored waypoints could be lost; calendar and date readings as well as navigational positions could be inaccurate.

Some manufactures have solved the EOW problem; others have not.  The best way to find out about a specific model is to call the manufacturer, suggests the U.S. Coast Guard, the government liaison to the civilian sector for GPS-related issues. Their website has GPS and Y2K information as well as a comprehensive listing of GPS manufacturers and  how to contact them: http://www.navcen.uscg.mil/gps/geninfo/y2k/default.htm. 

 

 

 

 

 

Maalaea Harbor’s muddy mess

by Jessica Ferracane

The waters of Maui’s Maalaea Bay turned a muddy brick red two years ago when a succession of heavy Kona rainstorms hit Maui’s leeward shore and drenched the construction site of the commercial development adjacent to Maalaea Small Boat Harbor.
 Today the harbor is still clogged with runoff—and red tape—and boats run aground frequently because of it.

Despite an agreement signed by the developer in September 1998 to dredge the harbor, not a single atom of muck has been removed. State officials and the developer, Maalaea Triangle Partnership, are still negotiating a suitable method to dredge 2,000 cubic yards of silt from the commercial boat harbor.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials maintain that sedimentation settled into the harbor because there were no protective measures at the construction site to prevent runoff during the unusually heavy storms and high winds from November 1996 through January 1997. Maui County fined the developer $21,000 for violating permit conditions that contributed to the damage.

The 18-acre commercial development, known as Maalaea Harbor Village, is the home of the $20 million Maui Ocean Center. The developers hope to finish construction on a 43,000-square-foot shopping mall that will feature boutiques, art galleries and restaurants by the end of 1999.

Michael Spalding, a general partner in the Maalaea Triangle Partnership, said he and his colleagues have been trying to come up with an effective and affordable method to remove the muddy silt that chokes the harbor in some places.

The company first examined the possibility of hiring a sewage pumping truck to slurp out sediment from certain areas of the harbor, but the DLNR was skeptical and rejected the plan.  In a meeting Jan. 13, the developers sought approval to hire North Pacific Construction’s 82-foot barge with a hydraulic excavator to dredge the harbor. Material would be excavated off the bottom and deposited onto the barge, then hauled by truck to a landfill. The rig is currently dredging Haleiwa Harbor on Oahu, Spalding said.
If approved, which is likely, the cleanup effort could cost up to $200,000.

“I would just like them to fix the harbor,” says Skip Price, who owns the charter sailboat Silent Lady. Price and several other boat owners are suing the developer, Maui County and Oahu Construction, the company hired to build the development. Price says Silent Lady has run aground numerous times since the runoff settled in the harbor and has suffered damage to its sails, bottom paint, and rigging in excess of $247,000.

John Baldwin, who has operated charter boat businesses out of Maalaea Harbor since 1968 and was recently appointed by the governor to serve on the temporary Maritime Authority Commission, says the main problem at Maalaea Harbor is the culvert drain near the launching ramp which funnels runoff from agricultural land mauka of the harbor. Approximately 480 acres of state and privately owned land are located across Honoapiilani Highway from the harbor.

“There’s no doubt that they (the developers) shouldn’t be responsible for all the problems because that’s been an on-going situation,” Baldwin said.

But Maalaea Triangle Partnership is being held responsible, under threats of a lawsuit from the state attorney general’s office. DLNR Civil Engineer Curtis Powers said there has never been a history of problematic runoff from the state-owned ranch land across the highway into any of the culverts that lead into the harbor.

During a site inspection of the mauka land, Powers pointed out that the arid parcel acts like a sponge during rains so very little runoff occurs. On that trip, the culvert that outflows near the boat ramp was free of sedimentation, despite heavy rains two weeks prior.
Powers compared the amount of runoff from the mauka land to “teacupfuls” and the amount of runoff from the development site to “100 semi-truckloads.”

“I stood in the middle of the sheet flow coming from the (commercial) property watching cubic yard after cubic yard pouring into the harbor,” he recalled.
So far, plans to dredge the harbor include removing about 1,500 cubic yards of sediment from the channel near the harbor master’s office. Another 300 to 500 cubic yards of silt will be removed from the area near the boat ramp.

Spalding admits the partnership is not without guilt, but he feels his company is being used as the scapegoat.

“Basically the state is making us fix the harbor that has not been dredged in 13 years. There’s been silt built up every time there’s been a Kona storm. We’re part of the Maalaea community and the betterment of the harbor will benefit us all so we are proceeding with the work as expeditiously as permits and approvals can be obtained," he said.

Charter boat owner Mary Jane Caldwell agrees that the harbor has needed dredging for a long time.

“The harbor has never been as deep as it should be. But it was never muddy back in the old days and people didn’t go aground like now,” even after Kona storms, she added. Caldwell’s 60-foot schooner Lavengro backed into a ridge of dirt after the damaging runoff and sustained $15,000 in damage and loss of revenue.

Jessica Ferracane is a freelance writer living on Maui.

 

 

 

Logistics means business for Matson

by Mele Pochereva

It took a lot of planning and special handling to move a 27-foot wide, 24-ton mirror and its 30-ton container from New Orleans to its ultimate destination: the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, some 7,000 miles away. The journey actually began last September in Pittsburgh, Pa., where the unusual cargo — the delicate primary mirror for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s new Subaru telescope — spent the past four years being ground and polished to perfection. It is the world’s largest optical-infrared mirror.

From Pittsburgh, the mirror was transported by truck then barge down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. Enter Matson Logistics Solutions, the year-old subsidiary of Matson Navigation Company, created in January 1998 to help customers manage their transportation needs, including complex shipping requirements.

Having completed a similar move earlier in the year, delivering the mirror for the Gemini North telescope, Subaru’s neighbor on Mauna Kea, Matson Logistics was called upon to handle the ocean transport of this newest astronomical addition to the 13,800-foot mountaintop observatory.

In New Orleans, the mirror was transferred to the “sugar ship,” the 678-foot bulk raw sugar carrier Moku Pahu operated by Matson, where it sailed through the Panama Canal to Honolulu, dodging Hurricane Lester to the north.  From Honolulu, Matson chartered Hawaiian Tug & Barge tug Mikiala and Young Brother’s barge Malana for the final leg to Kawaihae.

“We are building a reputation based on our transportation expertise and a knowledge of handling virtually any commodity from point ‘A’ to point ‘Z’ in an efficient, cost-effective manner,” said Dave Hoppes, Matson Logistics’ vice president and general manager.
More recently, the company handled the shipping to Hawaii of the equipment needed to tape two weeks of “Wheel of Fortune” shows in the Islands — four 48-foot trailers and 26 containers, including the Wheel itself, of course. And, still in the talking stage is the possible involvement of Matson Logistics in helping the Miss Universe Pageant take its show to Trinidad this May. 
 

 

 

 

Congress to ponder “cruises to nowhere”

As Hawaii legislators ponder ways to increase state revenues, legalization of shipboard gaming and other gambling proposals will likely be debated once again. Both sides of the gambling issue may also be interested in a proposal now before Washington lawmakers.

Among the many maritime-related bills introduced in Congress this session is a bill to amend the 1951 “Johnson Act” and allow states to choose if they wish to legalize gambling cruises. HR 316, introduced by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), would restore the effectiveness of state laws over gambling “cruises to nowhere.”

Following are Congressman Wolf’s comments before the House of Representatives on January 6. Dubbed the “Cruises to Nowhere Act of 1999,”  the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation regarding so-called cruises to nowhere. ‘Cruises to nowhere’ are gambling cruises, ships where a destination, created for the sole purpose of allowing passengers to gamble on the high seas on board a floating casino. The cruises depart from a certain state, sail three miles into international waters for gambling, and then return to the same state. States receive no revenue from the cruises, but must absorb the social costs associated with the  gambling traffic through their state.

“Mr. Speaker, my legislation is about the fundamental principle that states should be able to  determine on their own if they want gambling cruises in their state. My colleagues should be aware that on October 16, 1998, a federal district court ruled in the state of South Carolina that federal law preempts certain state laws prohibiting ‘cruises to nowhere,’ and are therefore unenforceable. The federal law cited by the court is a poorly worded 1992 amendment to the Johnson Act buried in a bill designating the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Congress did not intend for the 1992 amendment to supercede states’ rights, and we should act to restore state sovereignty with regard high-states [sic], unpoliced and unregulated casino gambling around the country.

“Almost every state has a law making it illegal to possess gambling equipment (e.g., slot machines). Thus it should be patently illegal for a day-trip gambling boat to dock in a state with statues that clearly prohibit such operations, and it was illegal prior to enactment of the 1992 Johnson Act amendment.

“In the meantime, casino ‘cruises to nowhere’ have started operating out of Florida, Georgia, New York, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. Most recently, ‘cruises to nowhere’ are planning to dock in Virginia and begin operations out of Virginia Beach. Unless Congress acts soon, almost all other states bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, or Gulf of Mexico could expect gambling ships to be docking very soon.
“The legislation I am introducing today would make it clear that no preexisting state gambling law is weakened, preempted, or superseded by the 1992 Johnson Act amendment. My legislation will restore state sovereignty with regard to ‘cruises to nowhere.’ If states do choose to permit ‘cruises to nowhere,’ they can enact appropriate legislation, but will not be forced to by the federal government.”
 

 

 

 

Marine Casualties

The following casualty information is provided by the USCG Marine Safety Office Honolulu.

10/4/98 TUTUILA ISLAND, AMERICAN SAMOA.
Two miles west of Tutuila Island, the 194-foot purse seiner Capt. Christiano Da Rosa was found to be taking on water in the machinery spaces. The crew located and secured the sources: a sheered 1.5 inch hard pipe on the salt water cooling system and an opened escape hatch to the CO2 room, located on the aft portside work deck level. After getting the generators back on line, the engineering crew dewatered the engine room to a manageable level. Unable to regain engine operation, the vessel was towed back to Pago Pago. There were no injuries to the 20-person crew nor any pollution resulting from the incident.

10/13/98 HONOLULU ANCHORAGE, OAHU.
The MV Daio Copihue lost its port anchor and entire length of chain while attempting to anchor at Honolulu Anchorage. Human factor elements likely played a key role in the loss since no evidence of equipment failure was found.

10/16/98 KURE ATOLL.
The 87-foot fishing vessel Paradise Queen II ran hard aground on the reef line on the southeast side of Kure Atoll. Surf action caused extensive damage to the vessel’s hull, rendering it a total loss. Salvage and oil pollution crews managed to remove 7,000 gallons of fuel oil and other pollutants from the vessel. Crewmember inexperience played a key role in the grounding, according to a CG investigation.

11/12/98 KANEOHE BAY.
A Japanese tourist died when her jet ski collided with another jet ski in Kaneohe Bay. A second person sustained multiple injuries. Both jet skis had two people aboard and were following a racetrack pattern in a regulated jet ski zone. The accident occurred when one skier lost control and turned into the direct path of another.

11/12/98 PACIFIC OCEAN.
The Bahamian flagged MV Norwegian Star lost power and had a general blackout while in international waters en route to Honolulu. Emergency generators assumed the emergency load until the main generators were brought back on line two hours later. A blockage in the fuel supply line to the main generator was determined to be the cause.

11/27/98 PACIFIC OCEAN.
The 523-foot Panamanian freightship Settsu and the 78-foot American flagged fishing vessel Iolani collided at sea approximately 350 nautical miles west of Honolulu. The Iolani sustained major hull damage and sank within 20 minutes after the collision. The six crewmembers deployed a liferaft and were rescued by the crew of the Settsu. No major injuries were sustained.

12/4/98 HONOLULU HARBOR. A longshoreman employed by Hawaii Stevedores was seriously injured when he fell 32 feet from atop marine containers on the MV Sumida at Pier 1. The spreader bar became jammed atop a container and attempts to free it caused the bar to swing wildly. One longshoreman managed to jump to another level and avoid being hit; the other was pushed over the side by the spreader bar and landed 32 feet below on the deck. Neither worker was wearing a safety belt.

12/9/98 PACIFIC OCEAN. Five of six crewmembers were washed overboard when the fishing vessel Red October, operating approximately 750 nautical miles north of Oahu, was hit by a wave estimated to be 50 feet tall. The captain managed to stay aboard and was able to rescue all but one of the crew. A massive search ensued for the missing crewmember who was never found. The MV President Polk responded to the scene and took aboard the four rescued crewmembers, two of whom sustained serious injuries and were flown by CG helicopter to a Honolulu hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

Newsbriefs

Diver homing device introduced

Hawaii-based Neptune Technologies has introduced an inexpensive beacon marker for commercial, recreational and military use. The Diver Beacon and Homing System allows divers to mark selected spots on the seafloor, or find their way back to the boat, or even set up a navigational course with multiple beacons spaced 150 to 500 meters apart.

The beacon is placed at the desired site. Then, when the diver wants to locate the site, a “Finder” is used to scan the water and home in on the beacon’s ultrasonic signal.
The standard beacon can operate continuously for 12 hours using a 9V alkaline battery, or for 24 hours using a 9V lithium battery. The SuperBeacon operates continuously for up to 14 days. The Finder will last for about 400 hours of diving if left in the “off” position when not in use.

CEROS, the National Defense Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences, sponsored Neptune Technologies in the design, development and testing of the patented system. It is being manufactured in Hawaii by Bear Machinery, and should be available in local dive shops this spring for about $200.

For more information, contact Neptune Technologies at (808)531-8330.

Cruise lines predict huge passenger increase

With nine new ships entering service in 1999, including an existing ship that is being lengthened, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is projecting a record 11 percent increase in the number of cruise passengers that will take to the seas this year. From yacht-like ships to mega-liners, the new vessels will accommodate from 490 to 3,100 guests.

According to James G. Godsman, president of the 23-member cruise line association, the industry has enjoyed an average year-over-year annual growth of almost 8 percent since 1980, when 1.4 million people took a cruise. “Year-end figures for 1998 are yet to be tallied,” he says, “however, third-quarter statistics indicate that the industry will be right on target for reaching its projected 5.4 million cruise vacationers. CLIA projects that figure will increase to 6 million for 1999.”

Additionally, in response to extensive consumer research that reveals today’s cruise prospects are younger, active, adventurous and tend to travel with children, CLIA-member lines are investing in unprecedented cruise ship design: the first ice rink, cabins overlooking a soaring indoor atrium, extensive youth facilities and lavish health spas, to name a few. And, to keep experienced cruisers coming back, cruise companies are seeking new ports and exotic destinations, enhancing shore programs by offering more in-depth experiences and providing more sports and adventuresome options for the active traveler.

Speedsailing catamaran to be auctioned

The Trans-Pacific record-setting, ocean racing Catamaran, Aikane X-5, will be sold a public auction in Honolulu on February 27.

The 62-foot vessel was built in 1985 by legendary catamaran builder/sailor Rudy Choy for racing and to set elapsed-time sailing records. She previously held or currently holds course records in the Trans-Pacific Yacht Race, Newport-to-Ensenada and Lahaina-to-Honolulu races, among others.

The vessel has been re-fitted to qualify for a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection allowing it to carry to up 49 passengers for hire.  Rigid, open passenger modules fit between the hulls and crossbeams amidships, aft of the mast, to accommodate charter passengers.

The estimated replacement value is more than $750,000. For more information contact Pacific Boat Sales, Inc., (808 )325-5000.

 

 

 

Soundings

Anti-business policies are sinking our ocean recreation industry

by Sig Schuster

State laws, rules and regulations have pared down some Oahu ocean recreation businesses by as much as 78 percent since 1989. By all indications, the trend will continue.

In 1990, three main ocean recreation areas — Keehi Lagoon, Maunalua Bay and Kaneohe Bay — served about 500,000 people per year, primarily Japanese visitors. By 1997, that number had dropped to about 90,000 visitors. During that same period, estimated gross revenues slid from $32 million to $7 million, and 400 employees lost their jobs. These losses trickle down to other businesses: fewer lunches being bought to serve onboard, less gas and equipment purchased, fewer advertising dollars spent.
The problem? While some blame can be placed on the general decline in eastbound visitors to the state, restrictions on the days that ocean recreation businesses can operate have had the most devastating effect on the industry.

Collectively, in two of the three areas on Oahu, the commercial ocean activities are now shut down on Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays — 179 days a year. Include restricted Maui sites and another 152 days are closed to tourists.

Prior to 1990 there were direct bookings for ocean activities from Japan agents. Now there are none. When agents call to book an activity and countless times are told, “Sorry, we’re closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” they stop calling. Seventy percent of Japanese visitors in the 20-40 age group want to partake in ocean sports, according to the Japan Hawaii Travel Association, but with an average length of stay of only four days, these visitors often leave dissatisfied.

Consequently, agents in Japan steer their customers to Guam and Saipan if ocean sports are what they want to do on their vacation. Guam’s visitor count has soared from 300,000 in 1990 to 1,300,000 in 1997. Is this just a coincidence?

Besides restrictions on when companies can do business, other rules make the ocean recreation business increasingly difficult and seem to favor an elimination of all commercial boating activities. Rule 13-256-5, for example, favors an auction/bidding process for commercial permits. Who would bid for a permit when that permit could be lost when it comes up for auction again? Then there is Rule 13-256-7 that requires a transfer fee for commercial boaters if they sell. The list goes on, including regulations prohibiting carrying school groups when regular paying passengers are on board. No other type of business is subject to these types of rules.

Hawaii’s ocean restrictions have sent Guam operators laughing all the way to the bank, with the 365-day-a year ocean recreation business up more than 85 percent. Japan Travel Association estimates that of the 1,300,000 visitors to Guam and Saipan in 1997, 50,000 to 100,000 or more would have preferred Hawaii if it weren’t for the restrictions on ocean sports activities.

Together with Guam and Saipan, ocean recreation destinations in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, California, the Philippines, Australia and the Mediterranean attract some 100 million visitors a year; Florida alone gets about 40 million of them. From sources in Florida and California, not one closes access to the ocean except for weather-related reasons.

Hawaii cannot restrict access to ocean activities and still expect visitors to flock to our shores. The ocean is a main attraction of this visitor destination, where fun in the surf and sun is what we promote. Hawaii must have a strong, healthy ocean recreation philosophy to keep local folks and visitors satisfied. 

Sig Schuster is the president of Kaneohe Bay Cruises which has been operating in Kaneohe Bay since 1981.

Hawaii Ocean Industry provides this space as a forum to express viewpoints on Hawaii’s ocean industry.

 

 
     
     
 

© 2002 Hawaii Ocean Industry