Paddle Battles

Proposed ban on SUPs falters in Hawaii

Kewalo Basin, one of the lineups mentioned in the proposed SUP ban in Hawaii. Photo: Noyle

Kewalo Basin, one of the lineups mentioned in the proposed SUP ban in Hawaii. Photo: Noyle

Last week, a group called Safe Surf Hawaii proposed a pilot program meant to ban stand up paddle surfing at some lineups in Honolulu. In response to the proposal, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) held a meeting where both proponents and opponents debated the issue. At the conclusion of the meeting, the DLNR opposed the proposal and the ban was not implemented. However, undertones raised by the issue continue to linger.

The desire for a ban on SUPs in certain Honolulu lineups (specifically, between the Ala Moana boat harbor and Kewalo Basin on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.) arose because they believed that SUPs were taking more than their fair share of waves. SUP supporters—who vastly outnumbered supporters of proposal at the meeting—argued that the lineups needed to be self-policed.

"We don’t need the government regulating our lineups. For the most part, lineups are self-policing," said Robert Stehlik, manager of the Blue Planet surf shop that specializes in SUPs. "If someone is being a wave-hog, whether he’s on an SUP or not, the lineup regulates that."

When they first proposed the ban, Safe Surf Hawaii noted that not all SUPs are dangerous, but the lineups of Honolulu are clogged and have reached a tipping point where the safety of other surfers is in jeopardy.

"In a perfect world, there would be no need to adopt safety or resource sharing regulations concerning the use of SUPs in surf zones. In a perfect world, all SUP users would behave both safely and courteously. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world. However, this is a problem for which at least a partial solution is readily available."

Following the DLNR meeting, Safe Surf Hawaii posted a humble statement on their website expressing their respect for those that disagreed with their stance, while still advocating a need to regulate SUPs.

"The opinion at the meeting that was most frequently expressed was that surfers and SUP users need to regulate themselves. It is less than clear how such 'self-regulation' is supposed to work. However, a good starting point for all surfers and SUP users is to be guided by the principle that, 'Just because you can, does not mean you should. No one likes surfing with a wave-hog. So don’t be one. Share the waves, and share some aloha, by letting a couple pass by for the others in the water."

What’s your opinion? Should lineups be segregated or are they better self-policed? Let us know in the comments below.