Land Board levies fines for illegal lava boat tours

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources voted Friday to approve administrative fines against Henry K. Pomroy, Bill A. Fujimoto and Ho‘okupu Fish Co. 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, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation brought a civil enforcement action to the board at its April 28, 2017, meeting. According to DOBOR, Pomroy was warned that he was operating illegal lava boat tours from Pohoiki boat ramp in lower Puna because he did not have a commercial use permit authorizing the activity.

DOBOR said Pomroy continued to conduct illegal lava tours under the guise of a “membership” system 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.

A contested case hearing was held, and the hearing officer found Pomroy was conducting illegal lava tours without a commercial use permit.

The hearing officer’s proposed decision was adopted without change by the BLNR, which ordered payment of fines, attorney’s fees and administrative costs to $48,500.

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