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”
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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,”
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
“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
“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.”
The following casualty information is provided by the USCG Marine Safety
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.