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New water jetpacks spark concern in Hawaii

By Jonathan Lam     Aug 8, 2013 in Environment
Honolulu - Being strapped to a water propelled jetpack and launching nine meters into the air can be one of the best adrenaline rushes a person can get. But to others it sparks a couple of concerns.
Jetlev is a device that is capable of lifting a person by pumping water from a backpack through a hose connected to a small, unmanned boat. There are promotional videos all throughout Youtube showing riders shooting out of the ocean into the sky, then diving in the water like dolphins.
These devices are starting to show up for recreational rental in San Diego, Key West, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico. However, some in the Aloha State are far less enthusiastic about the machines. Fishermen, scientist and state officials are questioning their safety and how they may affect fish and coral in the state's heavily trafficked tropical waters. The complaints prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to call a public meeting about the devices last month. The department's top enforcement officer, Randy Awo, expressed alarm about unsafe maneuvers, such as riders dive-bombing into the water next to moving boats.
Bob Richmond, a coral scientist at the University of Hawaii, told officials he was concerned about the noise the devices make, as fish avoid areas that are too loud. Richmond is also worried that fish and coral larvae could get pumped through some of the equipment the watercraft use and die. Fisherman Carl Jellings says the watercraft already scared fishes away from Oahu's bay and is worried these new machines would do the same. Jellings explains that the marine life depends on these places, but they are being displaced.
The state may find a way to accommodate the devices, perhaps in selected places, said William Aila, chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources. But Aila said studies are needed examining how such watersports may affect fish and coral. Jeffrey Krantz, owner of the company that operates the sole Jetlev in commercial use on Oahu, suggested the state set aside areas for jetpack use. His company, H2O Sports Powered by Seabreeze, takes about 10 people on Jetlev rides daily, at a rate of $179 for 15 minutes.
Sometimes we have to look beyond the fun and excitement to come to realizing that everything has a sort of consequence. Whether it may be good or bad.
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