HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on proposed regulations involving Hawaii spinner dolphins (all times local):
Federal regulators say a proposed ban on swimming with Hawaii dolphins is intended to keep people a safe distance from the animals.
Ann Garrett of the National Marine Fisheries Service said Tuesday the agency wants to require that people stay at least 50 yards from spinner dolphins.
She says some tourist operators already follow similar voluntary guidelines and others can do so and remain viable businesses.
Under the proposal, operators could still take people snorkeling for other reasons but they wouldn't be allowed to set their customers within a pod of dolphins or within 50 yards of a dolphin.
Federal regulators are proposing a widespread ban on swimming with Hawaii's spinner dolphins to allow the nocturnal creatures to rest during the day.
The National Marine Fisheries Service proposal expected to be announced Tuesday would allow some limited exceptions, given dolphins sometimes approach people.
But the rule would likely shut down or greatly disrupt Hawaii's dolphin tour industry as it currently operates.
The ban would cover waters out to 2 miles, where Hawaii's spinner dolphins rest after foraging for food at night. Tour companies take customers to these nearshore waters to find dolphins.
Swimming with dolphins is popular with visitors and some locals. But scientists are concerned this deprives the dolphins of the rest they need.
The agency plans public meetings on the proposal with a final decision next year.