The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold the second of two public meetings to seek input on where day-use mooring buoys should be placed in the waters in and around Hilo Bay from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, in the State Building first-floor conference rooms at 75 Aupuni St. in Hilo.
The buoys will be part of a coral mitigation plan for Hilo Harbor that the Army Corps of Engineers permitted for the dredging of the harbor channel by the state Department of Transportation. DLNR is working to implement the mitigation plan, and the meeting will cover the purpose of the mooring program, the modified draft list of day-use mooring buoy locations, and public feedback to develop a priority ranking for these sites.
A previous meeting was held on April 18. To install the moorings, a draft list of appropriate sites will be developed based upon the advice of a core group of fishermen and professionals familiar with the waters off Hilo. Boaters, fishers, commercial dive operators and other ocean users who frequent Hilo Bay, and especially Blonde Reef, interested in preserving this resource are urged to attend.
Previously, the need for day-use mooring buoys in the Hilo area was not recognized, primarily because there was no overt request from charter boats for their deployment. During surveys of Blonde Reef for the artificial reef initially proposed as mitigation for the project, a variety of abandoned anchors was seen littering the bottom and coral cover was much higher than anticipated, said state officials.
The need for buoys to offset damage from recreational users over this reef is apparent, but has not been documented. Because Hilo Bay has multiple user groups — including cruising sailboat moorings, sailing, canoe, paddling, jet skis, free diving, scuba and bottom fishing — it is imperative to coordinate the location of mooring buoys.