The Need for a Green List of Activity Providers

The Manta Rays of Hawaii have been Kona’s most unique attraction to travelers since the early 90’s. The Manta Rays amaze with their natural beauty. It is truly a world-class experience that makes an impression that lasts a lifetime.  The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the only places in the world with an accessible population of Manta Rays.

Up until a few years ago, the co-existence of humans and Manta Rays was mutually beneficial, but today there are now threats to the Manta Rays as well to the safety of participants due to non-compliance to established Industry Standards.

Learn what the criteria are to be a green-listed activity provider.


PROBLEM # 1 – Over-Capacity

In 2012, there was a paradigm shift within the Manta industry. Many more boat operators started up manta-based businesses. This Manta Ray “gold-rush” decreased the quality of the activity and increased the risk to the Manta Rays and the people. It has gone from a pleasant, serene experience to a chaotic, carnival-like atmosphere (“aquasphere”).

A Solution

The State of Hawaii is in the process of implementing regulations to manage the sites, but this controlling action will take place at the earliest in 2018. This unreasonably exposes the Manta Rays to continued harm.

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PROBLEM # 2 – Injuries to the Manta Rays + Disregard to Industry Standards

Unfortunately, the Industry Standards currently in place are “voluntary,” so there are no consequences for non-compliance.

Growth may make it impossible for this activity to ever be what it was [again], but with very little effort and agreement, the mantas could once again exist in a safe environment.

The Manta Rays are suffering and being injured because some activity providers do not follow the above mentioned Standards. This has manifested itself with the use of lighting too close to objects like lines, hulls, rudders, ladders and propellers. We also continue seeing operators drop anchor on live-coral.

Much of the excitement and awe from this Experience can vanish when you see manta rays swim by with deep gashes on its face, propeller wounds or rope burns. Many incidents have been documented. Above you will find a sad selection.

Learn more about the threats to the Manta Rays and the coral reef here.


The Solution: The Manta Ray Green List

The MISSION is simple, “DO NO HARM” to the Manta Rays, the aquatic environment or the people.

Our INTENT is to inform and educate the public so that the Manta Rays are protected from any adverse consequences of human interaction. Industry Standards for Kona, Hawaii were created in 2013 so that tour operators have specific guidelines, but not all activity providers have chosen to follow them. The GREEN LIST of ACTIVITY PROVIDERS identifies those that do.


Hawaii Ocean Watch Preferred Activity Providers practice the highest ecological standards.

Each preferred activity provider is a trendsetter showing leadership for the entire ocean recreation boating industry by committing itself

  1. to keep people and marine life SAFE
  2. to conduct SUSTAINABLE operations and
  3. to create MARINE-LIFE FRIENDLY encounters.

HOW GreenList Criteria: No TouchingHOW GreenList Criteria: No Freediving HOW GreenList Criteria: No Hull Lighting HOW GreenList Criteria: No Propeller HOW GreenList Criteria: No Fragmentation HOW GreenList Criteria: No Anchor

  • – Each preferred activity provider spreads HOW’s message and vision of DO NO HARM through further educating the customers they host every day on their vessels as well as through their website and social media channels.
  • – Each preferred activity provider not only supports HOW, but also helps other local non-profit organizations to keep up their good work by funding them through the Nature Fee.
  • – Each preferred activity provider prioritizes safe, sustainable and marine-life friendly practices over profits.
  • – The boat operators collect the Nature Fee. This will fund and enable HOW to create and maintain a Maritime Skills Training program which will increase the overall safety of operations within the boating industry.

Approved Activity Providers may not be collecting the Nature Fee but agree with the spirit and intent of the Green List.

How to become a Preferred Activity Provider? Learn more here.