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Hawaii boat operator certification enforcement coming soon

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Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is reminding all operators of motorized vessels they must be able to show proof of their successfully completing an operator certification course by Nov. 10, 2014.

Boaters have less than six months to take a boating safety course approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators and the State of Hawaii to comply with HAR 13-244-15.5, which became effective on Nov. 10, 2012.

When passed, this law provided for a two-year period before the rule could be enforced to allow the DLNR time to develop multiple compliance methods and give the boating community time to make use of those methods to become compliant.

The DLNR said it has worked diligently to create multiple methods for complying with the requirement. It notes there are three Internet courses that are fully approved, with one being offered free of charge. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering classroom courses statewide and two U.S. Power Squadrons are offering classes on Oahu.

In the months leading up to November, numerous other course providers across the state will start to offer additional classes and the DLNR said it would launch its own home study course. In addition, those who have already taken a course approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators can take abbreviated courses free of charge, to become compliant.

“A little bit of education and training can go a long way toward saving lives and preventing accidents,” said DLNR Director William J. Aila, Jr. “We can be easily persuaded to think of the ocean as wide open space. But because of the increasing number of whales that visit our waters each year, the burgeoning sea turtle population, the explosion in free diving, the popularity of stand-up paddling and other emerging recreational and commercial uses of our waters, there is growing potential for interaction between boats, marine life and ocean users.”

The Mandatory Education Rule, HAR 13-244-15.5, is a part of the administrative rules under DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and will be enforced by DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Any person violating this rule shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $1000 or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days, or both, for each violation; the court may also prevent an individual from operating a vessel in State waters of the State for up to 30 days.

Information about the mandatory education rule and how to sign up for courses is posted on the DOBOR web site at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/mandatory-boating-safety-education-qa/

The public may also contact DOBOR offices on each island.

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