Whale expert testifies on ferry
A hearing focuses on the possibility of collisions at sea
WAILUKU » Pacific Whale Foundation President Greg Kaufman has been on the witness stand off and on for nine days in a court hearing on whether the Hawaii Superferry can operate while an environmental study is done.
Kaufman is testifying on behalf of three environmental groups who filed the motion for an injunction against the Superferry.
As an expert witness, Kaufman has responded to questions on whale population, breeding grounds, seasonal activity, vessel speed restrictions, vessel routes and research on whale-vessel collisions.
During cross-examination yesterday, Superferry attorney Bruce Lamon questioned Kaufman about a Feb. 10, 1998, incident near Kihei in which an agent with the Pacific Whale Foundation was accused of violating the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The alleged violations included failure to allow an inspection of research activity records by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Lamon said. He said a $5,000 fine was issued, along with a warning for alleged violations.
Isaac Hall, attorney for the environmental groups, argued that the questioning amounted to a miniproceeding that would take the court away from the subject matter of the case, resulting in hours of rebuttal.
"The Hawaii Superferry is getting into kill-the-messenger tactics and mudslinging," said Hall.
Lamon responded calling Hall's comments an attack on his clients and "completely inappropriate."
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza determined that Kaufman did not have to answer the question because it was not clear who engaged in the conduct or if the Pacific Whale Foundation was directly involved.
Lamon also raised questions about Kaufman's testimony on professional affiliations and reaction times when whales are observed.
Cross-examination of Kaufman concluded yesterday. Arguments continue in the rebuttal portion of the proceedings today, with the hearing set to resume at 10 a.m.
John Garibaldi, Hawaii Superferry president and chief executive officer, and Terramar Environmental Research owner Mark Fraker, Superferry's marine mammal expert, have been observing the proceedings but have yet to take the stand on behalf of the Superferry.