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DLNR says it found no evidence cruise ship violated state rule

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources today said it failed to find any evidence that a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship violated state rules while sailing off Kauai’s Na Pali Coast earlier this month.

DLNR had on May 7 said it was investigating whether a large cruise ship had anchored too closely to the coast in response to social media posts and concerns from community members.

State rules for Na Pali Coast ocean waters require any vessels carrying more than 50 passengers to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet from the shoreline, DLNR said.

Officers conducted a two-pronged investigation, according to DLNR in a news release, which involved both an on-ship inquiry when the Celebrity Edge returned to port in Honolulu as well a search for witnesses on Kauai.

DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Officers boarded the Celebrity Edge at Honolulu, and interviewed the captain and shipmaster.

According to DLNR, the captain said he was in full control of the vessel and was always in waters of no less than 30 meters depth, but was unclear on the vessel’s distance from shore.

On Kauai, DOCARE officers searched for witnesses who could provide relevant information, but found none.

“None of the witnesses could factually conclude the 3,000-foot seaward distance was violated,” said DLNR. “Some witnesses did not wish to be involved in the investigation and others only had second- or third-hand information or repeated what they saw on social media.”

DLNR said the cruise line chose to sail along Na Pali Coast because it was unable to make port calls at Lahaina due to the Aug. 8 wildfires.

“DOCARE determined there is insufficient evidence that supports probable cause or that there is clear and convincing evidence to pursue any criminal or civil action at this time,” said DLNR in the release.

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