Lava boat op­er­a­tors face stiff penal­ties

$60,000 in fines urged by DLNR

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM CALLIS

Two men could face sub­stan­tial fines for al­legedly op­er­at­ing il­le­gal lava boat tours.

The state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources is rec­om­mend­ing fines of $60,000 against Henry Pom­roy, $20,000 against Wil­liam Fujimoto and $60,000 against Ho‘okupu Fish Com­pany LLC, which they co-own.

Both re­quested a con­tested case hear­ing, which the Land Board will con­sider April 28.

DLNR al­leges they sold tours to the lava ocean en­try at Kamokuna with­out a com­mer­cial per­mit. The com­pany was ob­served pro­vid­ing tours six times since Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment.

The men told en­force­ment of­fi­cers the money they col­lected was for mem­ber­ships in Ho‘okupu LLC, ac­cord­ing to DLNR.

Their pe­ti­tion for a con­tested case hear­ing ar­gues DLNR is un­law­fully re­strict­ing com­mer­cial per­mits at Po­hoiki to four. They deny con­duct­ing un­law­ful com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity.

Pom­roy and the com­pany face six counts of en­gag­ing in busi­ness at a small boat har­bor with­out ap­proval and six counts of il­le­gal com­mer­cial oper­a­tion on state ocean wa­ters. Each count comes with a max­i­mum fine of $5,000.

Fujimoto faces two counts for each vi­o­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to DLNR, the com­pany re­ceived a cease and de­sist let­ter from the depart­ment in Septem­ber and a U.S. Coast Guard or­der in Fe­bru­ary, but the tours con­tin­ued.

The cata­ma­ran boat, Ho‘okupu, is reg­is­tered as a recre­ational ves­sel, ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment.

DLNR iden­ti­fies Steve Strauss as Ho‘okupu’s at­tor­ney and mem­ber.

Strauss said he left the com­pany in Septem­ber but still rep­re­sents the LLC.

He said Ho‘okupu ap­plied for a com­mer­cial per­mit but was de­nied.

“The whole per­mit­ting scheme is flawed,” Strauss said.

“Com­mer­cial per­mits can only be re­stricted when there are ad­verse im­pact on re­sources. None are shown in this case.”

Pom­roy told of­fi­cers he takes in­vestors on fishing and sight­see­ing trips, ac­cord­ing to DLNR.

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