Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) introduced a bill last week to authorize the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to assess fees on tourists visiting marine protected areas in order to fund conversation efforts under the department.
H.B. 19-105 makes DLNR responsible for the development of a system of assessing fees for entry and usage of marine protected areas, or MPAs, in the Commonwealth. Fees will only be assessed on nonresident visitors to conservation and protected areas.
Collected fees will be transmitted and deposited in a Marine Conservation Revolving Fund, according to the bill.
The bill states that lack of funding for a Marine Conservation Section, as mandated by Public Law 12-2, has prevented the implementation of much needed management practices. Public Law 12-2 is an “unfunded mandate,” the bill says.
“The Legislature finds that the imposition of a marine conservation fee to be paid by tourists entering marine conservation areas is a reasonable, necessary, and worthwhile means to generate the necessary management funds.
Noting similar fees in other districts, the bill states that Hawaii currently charges $47.05 for entry into its Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District, the Republic of Palau requires visitors to pay $50 departure tax/green fee upon exiting the republic, and a $100 permit for entering its protected jellyfish lake, among other countries.