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January 2024

Dear Ocean Tourism Coalition (OTC) Members,

I hope this message finds you well. As we kick off the 2024 Legislative Session, it is crucial that we come together as a unified voice to address the challenges that lie ahead. This year is shaping up to be an “all hands on deck” moment for our industry, with several bills that pose a significant threat to our operations.  The compounding effects of inflation, adverse weather conditions, and the recent Lahaina Fire have collectively inflicted considerable challenges on boat businesses across the state.  Now is the time to ensure that our voices and concerns are effectively communicated and acknowledged.

Legislative Landscape Overview:

The proposed bills cover a wide range of issues affecting the ocean tourism industry, including the termination and reduction of commercial use permits, fee increases, penalties, and additional regulations that will make our lives more challenging. These bills have the potential to impact the vitality of our businesses and the overall health of our industry.

Proposed Rules to Monitor:

HB1874 (Companion SB2205)

Maui County Council Package; DLNR; Ocean Vessels; Commercial Use Permits; Environment
Prohibits the Department of Land and Natural Resources from renewing a commercial use permit if renewal would cause nearshore water overcrowding or harm, or potential threats to, the environment.

HB2249 (Companion SB2721)

Boating and Ocean Recreation; Criminal Penalties
Clarifies that violation of part I of chapter 200, HRS, relating to ocean recreation and coastal areas, or any rules adopted thereunder shall be subject to criminal penalties.

HB2477 (Companion SB3166 )

Ocean Recreation Commercial Use Permits; Unsealed Public Auction
Specifies that the Department of Land and Natural Resources can issue new ocean recreation commercial use permits by unsealed public auction. Revises provisions relating to boating and ocean recreation fees and permits. Specifies how commercial use permits may be issued where a permit limit has been exceeded. Increase Harbor Tax to 6% (H ) 1/24/2024 – Introduced and Pass First Reading. SAIKI (Introduced by request of another party)

HB2476 (Companion SB3165 )

Ocean Recreation Management Areas; Commercial Ocean Activity
Designates all ocean waters of the State within 3,000 feet from shore as ocean recreation management areas (ORMAs). Prohibits commercial activity in ORMAs unless authorized by use permit. Prohibits commercial activities in ORMAs on weekends and state and federal holidays unless authorized by the Board of Land and Natural Resources.Companion Bill to SB3165 (H ) 1/24/2024 – Introduced and Pass First Reading. SAIKI (Introduced by request of another party)


DLNR; Visitor Impact Special Fund; Establishment; Positions; Expenditure Ceiling; Appropriation ($)
Establishes the Visitor Impact Special Fund to be administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Declares that the general fund expenditure ceiling is exceeded. Appropriates funds for the Visitor Impact Special Fund and establishment of positions to develop the Visitor Impact Special Fund.


DLNR; State Boating Facility Lease Pilot Program; Ala Wai Boat Harbor; Leases; Repeal
Establishes a state boating facility lease pilot program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources to lease one state small boat harbor for private development, management, maintenance, and operation in a county with a population of less than 900,000. Repeals provisions related to the leasing of fast lands and submerged lands of the Ala Wai boat harbor. Repeals on 6/30/2044.

SB3164 (Companion HB2475)

Commercial Ocean Activity; Advertisements and Offers

Includes advertisements and offers in the definition of “commercial activity” as used in chapter 200, HRS. Provides that advertisements or offers for commercial activity are prima facie evidence that the owner disseminated or directed dissemination of such advertisements or offers. Teeth to identify illegal commercial activities (S ) 1/24/2024 – Passed First Reading. KOUCHI (Introduced by request of another party)


Hawaii Tourism Authority; Recreational Activities; Commercial Activities; Mobile Application; Tourism Enterprise Fund; Appropriation; Expenditure Ceiling
Requires the Hawaii Tourism Authority to develop and publish, through a contract with a third party, a mobile application that includes all online application processes, including the collection of any applicable reservation fees, to acquire a reservation to conduct recreational and commercial activities in the State that are regulated by or under the jurisdiction of a state or county agency. Requires the Hawaii Tourism Authority to issue a request for proposal to contract for the development and publishing of the mobile application. Establishes a tourism enterprise fund. Appropriates funds for the development and publication of the mobile application, including the hiring of a mobile manager. HTA create a mobile APP to collect data from permitted commercial activities (H ) 1/24/2024 – Introduced and Pass First Reading

HB2474 (Companion SB3163)

Ocean Recreation Equipment; Interim Administrative Rules
Authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to issue interim administrative rules to quickly regulate the use of ocean recreation equipment, especially new and emerging ocean recreation technologies, in state ocean waters until long-term administrative rules can be implemented. Authorizes BLNR to issue Admin rules quickly with as new technology equipment emerges (H ) 1/24/2024 – Introduced and Pass First Reading. SAIKI (Introduced by request of another party)

Call to Action:

As members of the Ocean Tourism Coalition, it is imperative that we stand united in opposing these detrimental bills. Our collective strength lies in our ability to advocate for the sustainable and fair regulation of our industry.

Stay Informed:

Regularly check our website and communications for updates on legislative developments and proposed rules that may impact our industry.  We will do our best to keep you updated on all the bills, both good and bad, that could affect our industry and your livelihood.

Engage with Legislators:

Reach out to your local representatives and express your concerns about the proposed bills. Share the positive contributions our industry makes to the local economy and emphasize the need for balanced and reasonable regulations.


This year demands our active engagement and collective efforts. By staying informed, actively engaging with legislators, and collaborating together, we can protect our industry’s interests and ensure a fair and sustainable future.

We appreciate your ongoing commitment to the Ocean Tourism Coalition. Let’s navigate these challenges together and emerge stronger as a unified front.


Denver S. Coon
Ocean Tourism Coalition (OTC)

Please e-mail [email protected] to receive a membership application.