The Maui News - The recent death of a man near Canoe Beach has brought about new calls for the state to replace buoys off Ka'anapali. The buoys would mark swimming areas and help prevent collisions between boaters and swimmers.
Previously, there were buoys placed along a swath of the coast from Mala Warf to Black Rock. Unfortunately, many of the buoys have not been maintained and have broken off years ago. Diver Darrell Tanaka and other advocates have been pushing the state to alleviate the problem, but have not seen any action since 2008.
"I guess my greatest disappointment is that nobody took us seriously," said Tanaka. "Money is a problem, but they collect fees from the many commercial permits they allow for this area, and those fees should go back to protecting the public and managing this area."
On Sunday, Jan. 8, hundreds of paddlers from Maui’s canoe clubs and other islands’ filled over 40 canoes at a memorial at Hanaka‘o‘o Beach in Lahaina to pay tribute to William Kalanikai Gonzales. The canoes formed a circle around a double-hulled canoe carrying members of the Gonzales family. The paddlers prayed and sang together as flowers dropped from a helicopter. Photo: Kimo Knutson
William Kalanikai Gonzales was struck and killed by a boat on Dec. 29 off of Hanaka'o'o Beach Park. It is not clear whether he was in an official swim zone or not. He was setting up lanes for an upcoming canoe race for high school students.
The incident has served to make others aware of the dangers that being in the ocean can cause, according to Maui Country Ocean Chief Archie Kalepa. He expressed concern over the bigger crowds now in the water.
He said that replacing the swim-zone buoys off Ka'anapali would improve safety in one of the island's most heavily used areas. He would like to see the swim zones to be marked again to help avoid such collisions in the future.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is currently in the process of finding a vendor to inspect all of Maui County's buoys.