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Thursday, January 23, 2003



Molokai ship
ruling due Feb. 5

State officials battle a request
for an environmental study


By Gary T. Kubota
gkubota@starbulletin.com

WAILUKU >> Maui Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto will rule on Feb. 5 on a request for an order to stop a cruise ship from making a port call off Molokai.

The state and Holland America Lines have opposed the preliminary injunction request filed by Hui Ho'opakele Aina. Holland America's cruise ship Statendam is scheduled to stop at Molokai's Kaunakakai Harbor on April 15, followed by the Amsterdam on April 18. Passengers from both ships would take shuttle boats to shore for day trips, a first for Molokai.

The Statendam did not anchor off the Friendly Isle for its scheduled arrival yesterday because it was asked by the Coast Guard to assist three people aboard a sinking sailboat. The rescue took the ship eight hours off course, eliminating the day it would have used to visit Molokai, a Holland American spokesperson said.

During a court hearing yesterday, state Deputy Attorney General Lane Ishida said the arrival of the cruise ship does not constitute a new use at the harbor.

Ishida said to require an environmental review as requested by the hui would be discriminating against cruise ships.

"To me it's an attempt to bash the cruise lines," he said.

Ishida said no state approvals requiring an environmental review are needed to allow passenger shuttles from cruise ships to dock at the harbor.

Ishida said the state issues the shuttle permit like a reservation and does not have the authority to require an environmental review.

"It's like a park. It's like an airport. ... Everybody can use it," Ishida said.

Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake disagreed, saying the state has the regulatory power to require an environmental review.

Moriwake, representing the hui, said state officials have an obligation to take action.

"It's a complete derogation of their responsibility," he said.

Moriwake said in addition to complying with Hawaii's environmental protection laws, the state has a constitutional trust obligation to preserve the traditional and customary practices of native Hawaiians who use the reefs near Molokai's Kaunakakai Harbor as a source of food.

Raffetto denied a request by the hui on Dec. 12 for a temporary restraining order to halt the arrival of the cruise ship.



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