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Grounded yacht owners fined $1.8 million

The owners of a luxury yacht grounded on a Hawaiian reef have had a fine increased to $1.8 million.

This was the third time an enforcement action against the yacht’s owners and operators – Jim Jones, Noelani Yacht Charters, LLC and Kevin S. Albert, Kimberly L. Albert, and the Albert Revocable Trust – had come before the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).

The yacht Nakoa grounded around 600 yards north of the Honolua-Mokulē‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District in February 2023.

An initial fine of $117,000 for damage caused to corals and live rock, was imposed but this has now increased to $1,818,851.97 to account for biological and cultural damages, as well as ‘emotional distress to the community.’

The original lesser fine was recommended by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), while leaving consideration of penalties for biological and cultural damage, and community distress, to the board.

Nakoa grounded in February 2023
Nakoa grounded in February 2023

“We commend members of the community, especially those from Honolua, who came forward to share their concerns,” said BLNR chair Dawn Chang. “We heard you, about the cultural significance of the place and these resources and we really appreciated their participation in this process.”

In July of last year, the Alberts and their trust reached a tentative agreement with the board to pay a settlement in the amount of $117,471.97.

The BLNR reserved its right to assess fines and penalties against Jim Jones and Noelani Yacht Charters.

After six months and despite numerous requests to the Alberts, the settlement did not materialise.

In January, the DLNR renewed its administrative enforcement action against all parties.

A community meeting decided that fines paid by the responsible parties to the DLNR should be used for the increased enforcement of existing rules and/or for better, more durable moorings.

The meeting also stated that if the DLNR cannot adequately police and manage Honolua Bay, then Honolua Bay should be closed to all commercial activities.

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