ASSOCIATED PRESS / AUGUST 2007
A state Department of Land and Natural Resources boat keeps an eye on protesting surfers, swimmers and canoe paddlers Aug. 27 as the Hawaii Superferry sits outside the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor.
Kahului security will not be like Nawiliwili, the Coast Guard says
Federal, state and county officials are talking about whether to expand the security zone around the Hawaii Superferry when the ship returns to Kahului Harbor next Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
But any security measures will be different from those established on Kauai after protests turned the ferry around in August, said Coast Guard Lt. John Titchen.
"It's not fair to compare the situation in Kahului to Nawiliwili," Titchen added. "I think you're looking at two very different situations."
The Coast Guard established a 100-yard security zone around the Superferry ship Alakai before its initial voyages, Titchen said. Anyone who breaks that security zone -- pretty routine for large vessels -- can be arrested on federal charges and subject to 10 years' imprisonment and a $32,500 fine, he said.
The expansion of that security zone at Kahului "is one option for Coast Guard response we are considering," Titchen added yesterday after officials met on Maui.
The key, he said, is balancing the needs for safety, the rights of protesters and the use of the harbor by commercial interests and by recreational users.
"We are dependent upon our relationship with state and local authorities to (listen to the needs of the community and) craft the best possible response plan," said Titchen.
STAR-BULLETIN / AUGUST 2007
A Coast Guard patrol boat sails alongside the Alakai as it approaches Kahului Harbor.
The Coast Guard has "broad authority" when it comes to waterways, he added. A temporary expansion of the security zone does not require any community comment time and would be in place by the Superferry's return.
The Coast Guard, however, expects to announce any changes for users of the harbor by early next week, Titchen said.
A temporary security zone is already in place for Nawiliwili Harbor after protests there disrupted ferry service on Aug. 26-27. The zone, which also is only in effect when the Superferry is near Nawiliwili, cuts off the small boat harbor, at least one surf break and a large fishing area.
While that temporary zone was set to expire Oct. 31, it was renewed, it goes into effect next Saturday and it will be back in place whenever the ferry returns to Kauai.
Superferry officials have not set their return date to Kauai, as they are conducting a "community outreach" campaign to smooth out its return, said Superferry spokeswoman Lori Abe.
"The specific goals (of the community outreach program) is to put everyone in a better place," Abe added. "I think it's all been positive."
But critics said Superferry officials have not contacted them to discuss their concerns.
The critics have written a response asking the Superferry to stay away from Kauai until an environmental impact statement is completed.
Unlike Maui, the Superferry has not gone to Kauai because of security involving protesters in the harbor waters. The state Legislature passed a law permitting the Superferry to operate while the study is done after a judge blocked its operation in Kahului Harbor.
But in a letter to Gov. Linda Lingle, a number of community groups said that the law is "unlawful, unconstitutional, and immoral."
The groups also say they will hold the governor accountable for any consequences -- environmental, cultural or social -- that might result from the Superferry's return.