GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Some east Maui residents organized a protest yesterday against the Hawaii Superferry in Wailuku.
Maui residents protest Superferry
WAILUKU » More than 30 east Maui residents protested the impending return of the Hawaii Superferry, saying the interisle service threatened their livelihood.
Officials of the Eastside Hui, an organizer of yesterday morning's demonstration, said they fear their rural Hawaiian subsistence lifestyle is in jeopardy, including catching fish to help provide food for their families.
Holding signs saying, "Cuz, No Take Superferry" and "Abuse of Power," the group walked a block from the parking lot fronting Ah Fook's Supermarket to a sidewalk fronting Longs Drug Store and the harbor.
The group plans to join other groups in demonstrations at 9 a.m. on Thursday, the scheduled restart of Superferry travel between Oahu and Maui, and again on Saturday.
Eastside Hui spokesman Kema Kanakaole said east Maui has limited mountain and ocean resources and he doesn't want people from Oahu loading their vehicles with fish and depleting resources in the way they have on their island.
"Out in the country we're not set up for massive amounts of people," said Kanakaole. "We want to protect our resources."
Kanakaole said his advice to Oahu people who want to come to Maui to do coastal fishing is to "go home and take care of their ice box, so they get fish."
Kanakaole said he's not about to violate federal laws by entering security zone waters because he has family responsibilities, including raising six children.
But he said he's sure there are other people willing to go that far and he supports them.
Steven Ho'okano, another organizer, said the state, including Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, hasn't been doing their job of protecting resources in east Maui by having enough conservation officers.
Eastside Hui officials have noted the absence of conservation enforcement, especially since a conservation officer who lived in Hana retired.
Ho'okano said that while the Superferry has received $40 million to improve Kahului Harbor, there has been inadequate funding to protect the traditional and customary rights of Hawaiians, as guaranteed by the state Constitution.
"The state of Hawaii is to blame," he said.
Randy Awo, the Maui chief for state conservation enforcement, said his branch could use more staffing to be more effective.
Awo said even when it had a conservation officer living in the Hana district, the officer was sometimes assigned to duties outside of the region.
Awo said the branch is adding several conservation officers.
Lingle administration officials were unavailable for comment.