Land Board approves fines for illegal lava boat tour

HONOLULU — The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) voted on May 11 to approve administrative fines against Henry K. Pomroy, Bill A. Fujimoto, and Hookupu Fish Company, LLC, regarding instances of illegal commercial lava boat tours on Hawaii Island.

Pomroy was issued a criminal citation for violation of Hawaii Administrative Rules, but the Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office dismissed the criminal citation, leading the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) to bring a civil enforcement action to the BLNR. A contested case hearing was held on the enforcement action and BLNR voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s findings of fact, conclusions of law and decision and order.

DOBOR brought the civil enforcement action against the parties at BLNR’s regularly scheduled April 28, 2017, meeting, alleging multiple instances of illegal commercial activity and requesting a total of $140,000 in civil penalties. Steven D. Strauss, then-managing member of Hookupu Fish Company, LLC, as well as attorney for Pomroy and Fujimoto, requested and was granted, a contested case hearing on the enforcement action.

According to DOBOR Pomroy was warned that he was operating illegal lava boat tours because he did not hold a commercial use permit authorizing the activity. The division said Pomroy continued to repeatedly conduct illegal lava tours from the Pohoiki Boat Launching Ramp. Pomroy then instituted a “membership” system with assistance from Strauss; a scheme where customers would pay to enter into an agreement for “Conveyance of Membership Interest in Ho‘okupu Fish Company, LLC.” Pomroy argued that members of Ho‘okupu Fish Company, LLC were taking boat rides as members of the company and therefore were not paying customers.

The Hearing Officer ruled that there was commercial activity taking place and that the agreement for membership interest in Ho‘okupu Fish Company, LLC did not remove the commercial use permit requirement. The hearing officers proposed decision was adopted without change by the BLNR which amended fines, attorney’s fees, and administrative costs to $48,500.

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  1. Mahi May 16, 2018 11:10 am Reply

    Now if ONLY the DLNR will levy fines for Bite Me at the Harbor in Kona who takes tourists out to harass dolphins on their Dolphin Encounters that they give 100% guarantee that the snorkeler will get “UP CLOSE & PERSONAL”. The boat leaves the harbor then scopes out dolphins then chasing the dolphins in the pods ’round until they get TIRED then unload tourists on top of ’em. Mahalo for listening as this Hott Issue has already been brought to DLNR’s attn. even on Oahu & still giving tours!


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