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Hawaii News

State takes control of grounded boat after it comes too close to Maui cultural site

                                The Kuuipo, a 56-foot motorboat, has been grounded off the Maui coast since March 8.
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The Kuuipo, a 56-foot motorboat, has been grounded off the Maui coast since March 8.

The state is taking control of a 56-foot motorboat — the Kuuipo, which has been grounded on the north side of the Lahaina Boat Harbor channel since earlier this month — to prevent it from damaging the culturally significant Hauola Stone.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation plans to hire a contractor to move the vessel to a safe location, according to a news release. The boat has been grounded since March 8 and on Saturday came within 8 feet of the Hauola Stone. The department also plans to hire a salvage contractor to remove the vessel “by any means necessary.”

DOBOR said it told the boat’s owner, Vernon Ray Lindsey of Wailuku, that he was prohibited from bringing the boat near the Hauola Stone, and that he had told the agency that he planned to hire a salvage company to remove the vessel.

DLNR Deputy Director Laura Kaakua said in a statement, “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.”

Kaakua added, “The majority of boat owners are responsible, but recent actions by a few have harmed Hawaii’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.”

DOBOR Assistant Administrator Meghan Statts said in a letter to Lindsey, “You are hereby notified that in order to protect this culturally significant site as well as to protect the natural resources … the State of Hawaii, through DOBOR, is immediately taking control of Kuuipo.”

Statts added, “Any unauthorized persons found aboard the vessel will be charged with trespassing. You are further notified that you (Lindsey) 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.”

Lindsey also was informed that the state considers him liable for any damage to coral and/or live rock as a result of the grounding and salvage.

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