HONOLULU – In order to try and prevent potential resource damage and to ensure that any damage is repaired, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) and Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) are closely monitoring the salvage operation of a Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) vessel that grounded in Lahaina Harbor on Monday.
Incidentally, the entry fee for Saturday’s “Run and Walk for the Whales” peaked at $75. How many run/walk entrants’ fees does it take to move a PWF vessel off a reef? Insert your own punchline here.
PWF is working to identify which professional maritime salvage company it will use to conduct the removal operation. “The state’s interest is to recommend best practices to minimize any potential resource damage to fragile aquatic resources, to make sure no fuel or other hazardous materials leak into the water, and to hold the boat’s owner accountable for any costs associated with environmental damage caused by the grounding or during this salvage operation,” according to Ed Underwood, DOBOR administrator.
DAR has an aquatic biologist on scene in Lahaina to monitor and assess reef damage. The division will conduct an in-water assessment of the area where the boat grounded, after it’s removed, to determine whether any damage occurred. The DOBOR Maui District Manager is also assisting in determining the best way to remove the boat and to minimize damage.
PWF has been working with all the agencies involved: DLNR, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Hawaii Dept. of Health. Removal operations are expected to begin once the USCG approves a salvage plan and the weather permits.