HONOLULU (KHON2) — Rulemakings are in the process on commercial manta ray viewing operations on the Big Island.

The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation estimated that between 60 to 70 boats take guests to view and feed the manta rays in Makako Bay and Kaukalaeae Point.

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The rules proposed are said to limit commercial viewing permits to 24 boats, in each of the two designated zones.

According to the DLNR, boats should carry no more than 60 passengers for hire within a single 24 hour period.

Boats are also to be subjected to two-hour-long shifts in each zone.

The DLNR said that these proceedings, if they go through will be the first to exist on Hawaii.

There are currently no rules or laws that are regulating manta ray activities, but the DLNR said that it has led to overcrowding, safety concerns and environmental impacts.

A few other proposed rules are:

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  • Defines manta ray viewing hours from 4:00 p.m.- 4:00 a.m. the next day 
  • Specific permits at a fixed monthly fee of $300.00, in addition to commercial use permit fees 
  • Implement a guide-to-customer ratio of 8-to-1 
  • Safety requirements including specific vessel lighting, propeller guards or safety lookout 
  • Display of capital “M” on both sides of vessels 
  • Prohibiting fishing in the zones during manta ray viewing hours