WAIKIKI, Hawaii (KHON2) — Beachgoers, beware: You could face fines or jail time for getting too close to the monk seals at Kaimana Beach.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is stationing enforcement officers around the clock after several incidents at the popular Waikiki beach.
Rocky biting a visitor certainly made the biggest splash, but other incidents of folks getting too close left volunteers at Kaimana with few options for enforcing the distance rule.
Unfortunately they have no law enforcement powers and that’s the reason DLNR decided late yesterday afternoon to enforce an emergency rule which requires people to stay 50 yards, 150 feet — basically the length of three school buses — away from the monk seals.”Dan Dennison, DLNR senior communications manager
Enforcement officers began patrolling the beach by both land and sea on Thursday, August 4 to cite folks if they are found in violation.
“So it’ll be kind of a semi-circle because the buildings here provide some artificial protection so we’ll have jet skis out there on the water during the daylight hours but there will be law enforcement presence here 24 hours a day maintaining that cordon,” Dennison said.
The degree of the citation is determined by the officer as either a misdemeanor of a felony. Misdemeanor citations carry up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail, felonies can cost up to $5,000 with up to one year in jail.
DLNR officials said felony citations will be extremely unlikely unless someone gets belligerent. Beachgoers disagreed if a $1,000 misdemeanor fine is enough.
“Any rich person would say, ‘I don’t care!’ So, I would care,” said Montreal visitor Sean Cassidy, “but a lot of people would just like, ‘Oh, go for it my son, try and do something, it’s worth it.'”
“Seems fair,” said Randee, a Kaimuki resident. “I mean, either you get the fine or you get a different kind consequence. So, they’ll learn either way.”
Both visitors and locals agreed that they are happy to see some official presence at Kaimana Beach.
“I think it’s better for the animals because it, you know, nobody’s gonna go and try and touch em and you can still see them from a certain distance, which was great,” Cassidy said.
“At least the State’s trying to do something about it,” Randee said. “Can’t just have these things keep happening, got to do something about it.”
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Officials expect Rocky to hang around Kaimana Beach for at least another two to three weeks until her pup weans; Law enforcement will be right there with them.