News Stories

Yacht Owner Fined $1.8 Million Fine for Running Grounding


(HONOLULU) – “A slap on the wrist in this situation, would be a slap in the face of this community,” exclaimed John Carty of the Save Honolua Coalition. This, after the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) greatly increased a fine against the owners and operator of the yacht Nakoa. The luxury yacht grounded on a reef approximately 600 yards north of the Honolua-Mokulē‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District in February 2023.

In a unanimous and unprecedented decision, and after hearing impassioned testimony from members of the community, the tentative proposed fined of more than $117,000 for damage caused to corals and live rock, was increased to $1,818,851.97 to account for biological and cultural damages, as well as “emotional distress to the community.”

Yacht grounding in Honolulu

BLNR Chair Dawn Chang said, “We commend members of the community, especially those from Honolua, who came forward to share their concerns.  We heard you, about the cultural significance of the place and these resources and we really appreciated their participation in this process.”

The original lesser fine was recommended by the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), while leaving consideration of penalties for biological and cultural damage, and community distress, to the board.

Yacht grounding in Honolulu

In DAR’s submittal to the BLNR, it stated, “The DLNR does not have a tool to obtain a monetary value for emotional distress and cultural damage to the public, but DAR acknowledges the volumes of public testimony received at the July 2023 and January 2024 BLNR meetings, and at a February 2024 Maui community meeting regarding its emotional distress and loss of use. Therefore, the DLNR leaves the decision to levy additional appropriate fines against the responsible parties to the board in its discretion.” 

This was the third time an enforcement action against Jim Jones, Noelani Yacht Charters, LLC and Kevin S. Albert, Kimberly L. Albert, and the Albert Revocable Trust, had come before the BLNR.

In July of last year, the Alberts and their trust reached a tentative agreement with the board to pay a settlement in the amount of $117,471.97. The BLNR reserved its right to assess fines and penalties against Jim Jones and Noelani Yacht Charters. After six months and despite numerous requests to the Alberts, the settlement did not materialize.

Yacht grounding in Honolulu

In January, the DLNR renewed its administrative enforcement action against all parties. The board’s final action was deferred, and it directed DAR to hold a community meeting in West Maui to receive input on the final civil fine amount. That meeting, on February 22, in West Maui at Kumulani Chapel helped staff solicit input from community members affected by the grounding incident.

According to the submittal for today’s BLNR meeting, DAR indicated three general themes emerged from the community meeting.

  • The recommended fine amount was too low; the Board should pursue the maximum fine to deter this type of behavior in the future;
  • Any fines paid by the Responsible Parties to the DLNR should be used for the increased enforcement of existing rules and/or for better, more durable moorings; and
  • If the DLNR cannot adequately police and manage Honolua Bay, then Honolua Bay should be closed to all commercial activities.

Chang added, “This was a win for natural, biological, and cultural resources and for an entire community that places great value on a cherished bay and the life it supports. I’m proud of the BLNR for sending a strong message, that if you damage Hawai‘i’s precious resources and cause distress for people, the penalties can be significant.”

Yacht grounding in Honolulu