The Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has tentatively approved a $117,472 fine against the trust that was involved in the grounding of Sunseeker Nakoa on Maui in February 2023.
The 28-metre Nakoa had broken free from its mooring in the protected Honolua-Mokulēʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District and ended up grounded on the shoreline, causing damage to more than 100 coral colonies and over 1,500 square metres of live rock on Maui’s west coast.
The fine includes $26,700 for damaging stony coral, $33,520 for damaging live rock, $56,851 for the cost of the investigation, and $400 for violations.
The settlement was agreed by Kevin and Kimberly Albert, trustees of the Albert Revocable Trust, but the board is currently deliberating on a penalty for the operator of the yacht, Jim Jones, and his luxury yacht charter service Noelani Yacht Charters.
In 2022, Jones entered a 15-year purchase agreement with Kevin and The Albert Revocable Trust for a sum of $1.45 million. However, during the salvage operation on 5 March, the Sunseeker sank to a depth of around 300 metres while under tow.
Following the incident, Kevin and Kimberly Albert filed a lawsuit in US District Court against Jones, Noelani Charter Yachts, and the captain seeking $1.45 million for the loss of the yacht, $500,000 for salvage work, and $500,000 for environmental damages. The lawsuit accused Jones of using the boat in a “grossly negligent manner” for a personal trip and the matter is ongoing.
In a statement, DLNR Chair Dawn Chang said: “We realise that for the Maui community, especially those who cherish Honolua Bay, this settlement may be disappointing and not enough. However, under this tentative settlement with the Albert Trust, the State will receive almost $600,000 for the removal of the vessel, coral damage, and administrative fines. We will continue to aggressively pursue those who harm our cultural and natural resources."
The salvage costs were covered by the owner’s boat insurance and exceeded $450,000.