USCG, NOAA Team Up to Stop Illegal Boat Charters

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement are partnering for Operation Kapena Kohole, a month-long mission to curb illegal boat charters within the Hawaiian Islands.

The agencies are cracking down on such illegal charters, which can be fined up to $27,500.

Illegal operators are a risk to public safety and affect legitimate businesses that significantly contribute to the state economy, according to the agencies. Charter vessels need the proper number of personal flotation devices and other equipment, and the operator should be able to show appropriate merchant mariners credentials.

“Passengers should refrain from employing charters and tours from captains who do not advertise Coast Guard certification or possess valid merchant mariner credentials,” explained USCG Chief Warrant Officer Omar Perez, Sector Honolulu’s command security officer. “The credentials must be present at all times on all voyages; the dangers from engaging with unlicensed captains can be life threatening.”

To report an illegal charter operation, contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2603 or For more on recreational boating safety, visit the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division (CG-BSX-2) at

By Karen Robes Meeks