Hawaii to add fees to tours and water activities to help protect the ocean
Tourists spending time on the water in Hawaii will soon have to pay a fee to support the conservation and protection of the state’s endangered marine resources.
Governor David Ige this month enacted legislation that establishes, among other things, a royalty to help protect marine resources.
“Hundreds of millions of visitors have enjoyed our magnificent ocean resources for decades without directly contributing to their management and protection,” said Suzanne Case, president of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, in a statement. “This new fund provides a framework for collecting fees from visitors who use our waters.”
Beginning in 2024, commercial marine operators offering shipboard activities to passengers or shipless services to customers will charge a user fee of $ 1 per person. The fees are expected to generate between $ 14 million and $ 30 million over the next 15 years.
“Our oceans are constantly threatened by repeated events of coral bleaching, pollution, marine debris and unsustainable fishing practices,” said Brian Neilson, Administrator of the DLNR Aquatic Resources Division. “The economic importance of ocean tourism requires constant investment in critical marine management. The Ocean Stewardship Special Fund is a win-win solution for reefs, residents, visitors and the state economy.
User fees are only part of the legislation. Other provisions will come into effect immediately, and other sources will contribute to the fund, including some income from state land leases under the jurisdiction of the DLNR.
The fund is part of the state’s comprehensive coastal waters initiative, Holomua: Marine 30 × 30, which aims to protect 30% of the state’s coastal waters for fishing and ecosystem resilience by 2030. .
The legislation was one of nine bills the governor signed this month relating to aquatic resources.
The bill has received a wide range of support, including from the Ocean Tourism Coalition (OTC), whose members depend on coastal resources for their livelihoods, recreation and livelihoods.
“OTC supports pono stewardship of resources to ensure that our coastal waters and coral reefs can be managed in a responsible, sustainable and economically viable manner,” said Jim Coon, president of OTC and operator of Trilogy Excursions on Maui.
Nelson said the royalty’s goals are vital to the state.
“Our beautiful oceans and vibrant ecosystems set Hawaii apart from other tourist destinations,” said Nelson.