Kilauea volcano on Hawaii island has been putting on quite a show recently, and it’s attracting illegal business.
In 24 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard has identified two tour boats operating illegally out of Pohoiki Boat Ramp. Officials are ramping up enforcement against illegal charters operating in the area to view lava streaming into the ocean.
“Safety is always our top priority,” said Capt. David McClellan, chief of prevention, Coast Guard 14th District. “For boat operators, it is important to maintain situational awareness and not unnecessarily put yourself, your passengers or your boat in danger. For visitors, it’s important they check that their hired boat operators are licensed ensuring they possess the experience and training required to get them to the viewing area and back safely.”
Commercial tour boat and charter operators must possess the appropriate merchant mariner credential to operate. Masters of commercial charters operating in state waters are also required by the State of Hawaii to have a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and to keep that permit on the vessel.
According to the National Park Service, the spot where lava meets the ocean is referred to as the “bench.” It is one of the most dangerous areas of the park because it could potentially collapse, sending dangerous projectiles into the air. The steam emitted where lava meets the water contains hydrochloric acid and glass particles.
Tour boat operators are urged to maintain a safe distance from both to ensure their safety as well as that of their passengers.