The state Department of Land and Natural Resources proposes that a company that damaged a coral reef while trying build an artificial reef off Maui should be fined $824,373.
The state said it could have sought a $4.9 million fine, or the $1,000 maximum allowed by law for each of the 4,914 corals damaged.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources was to decide on the fine at a hearing this morning.
The fine, if approved, would be nearly double the $436,460 that the state paid American Marine Corp. for the Keawakapu artificial reef project.
According to a department document, American Marine dropped 125 Z-shaped concrete slabs onto Keawakapu Reef on Dec. 2. The damage covered 312 square miles of living reef well outside the area marked for the slabs.
According to the document, American Marine’s barge appeared to drift as much as 300 to 400 feet from its buoy and had to be repositioned at least twice. After 1,452 slabs were sunk, state divers found several landed on coral.
The department stopped the artificial reef improvements and opened an internal administrative investigation.
The state said it is not seeking the maximum penalty because previous cases involving habitats considered high-value ecosystems had fines less than the maximum. The Keawakapu reef is classified a medium-value ecosystem.