Spinner dolphins. Photo by Ryann Williams/NOAA

Spinner dolphins. Photo by Ryann Williams/NOAA

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is supporting a proposed rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would prohibit approaching a Hawaiian spinner dolphin within 50 yards by any means. This would include commercial swim-with-dolphins programs.

“We believe NOAA’s preferred option is reasonable,” said Bruce Anderson, administrator of DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources. “Two of the five initial alternatives involved closing off entire areas designated as essential daytime habitats. We felt that was going a little too far, but we can support approach rules and eliminating swim-with-dolphins activities.”

Anderson noted the public comment period for the proposed rule ends October 23.

“We intend to comment,” he said. “The proposed regulations would be in effect within two nautical miles of the Main Hawaiian Islands, and within certain designated waters between Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. We will recommend NOAA expand that beyond two miles, all the way out to the limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is 200 miles from shore. We don’t see a rationale for a two-mile limit.”

Anderson also hopes NOAA will develop a plan to monitor the effectiveness of the proposed rule, once it goes into effect.