Kohala Tours Fined for Ramp Permit Violations

The Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday assessed a fine of $15,000 for three violations by lava tour boat operator Shane Turpin (dba Kohala Tours) for conducting commercial activity from a state boating facility without a required commercial use ramp permit, in violation of boating administrative rule, HAR 13-231-51.

According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the violations took place between February 3-7, 2017 from the Pohoiki boat launch ramp in south Hawai`i island. These involved repeated launches of the vessel LavaKai II from the ramp without having a valid commercial use ramp permit.

A media release from DNLR notes that Turpin’s other company Lava Ocean Tours, Inc. does hold one of the four available commercial use ramp permits issued by the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation for use of the state ramp for operation of its vessel, LavaOne. On the same dates the LavaOne was also carrying passengers for lava viewing tours. However, permit holders may not use the boat ramp to launch other vessels not covered by the permit.

The board declined to assess additional fines ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 against two vessel captains for multiple counts of violating the same boating rule.  Any future violations may result in citations, fines or possible revocation of the commercial use launch ramp permit.