Maui explores expanding ban on commercial beach activities

WAILUKU — Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino is looking to ban commercial activities at all beach parks on Sundays and holidays.

Victorino plans to ask the Maui County Council to consider changes to Commercial Ocean Recreational Activities permits, prohibiting activities like surfing lessons, scuba tours and snorkeling and kite boarding instruction on those days, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

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Victorino said on a PBS Hawaii program last week that residents feel like their beaches are becoming inundated with tourists and commercial activities. The ban aims to “bring back local days at our beaches,” he said.

The county has issued 95 permits for commercial beach activities, though not all permit holders operate on Sundays, county officials said.

Of the 17 permitted areas for such activity on the island, only the Kanaha, Ulua/Mokapu and Wailea beach parks allow all activities on Sundays.

“The administration’s got to look at the big picture,” Maui Dive Shop general manager Jeff Strahn said. “The big picture is residents like to participate in activities just as much as tourists like to participate in activities.”

When residents take lessons and classes at the beach, it is usually on weekends, he said.

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The commercial operators also carry first aid kits and lend assistance when emergencies happen on the beach, said Greg Shepherd, Maui Dive Shop’s director of operations.

The Department of Parks and Recreation expects to be ready to present the proposed changes at a public hearing in the next month or two, said Brian Perry, county communications director.

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