GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
More than 250 people lined the streets, shoreline and waters fronting Kahului Harbor yesterday to protest the arrival of the Hawaii Superferry.
Protesters clamoring for end of ferry to Maui
KAHULUI » The number of protesters against the Hawaii Superferry grew during the weekend on Maui to more than 250 people yesterday, as groups called for a halt in operation and planned a court appeal challenging a new law that allowed the vessel to resume operations.
But the number of passengers on the Superferry also increased.
Terry O'Halloran, director of business development, said the passenger load was a little higher yesterday, with 250 passengers and 67 vehicles on the Oahu-Maui leg and 135 passengers and 40 vehicles on the Maui-Oahu trip.
The Superferry has a capacity of 866 passengers and 282 vehicles.
The demonstration went without any arrests, prompting protesters to renew their call to reduce the expanded safety zone around the Superferry and to cancel the closing of the harbor jetty for small-boat launches.
"We want to get back to life as normal as can be with the Superferry," said Irene Bowie, executive director for the protesting group Maui Tomorrow.
Bowie said her group is planning to challenge the constitutionality of a new state law that allowed the Superferry to operate while the state prepares an environmental impact statement.
Prior to the passage of the law, a Maui Circuit judge ruled that the environmental impact statement needed to be completed before the vessel could begin operation.
Bowie said her group was happy with the turnout at the demonstration.
Holding signs saying "Give Back Our Harbor" and "EIS first ..." and "Solidarity, Don't Ride," hundreds of people lined the sidewalk on North Puunene Avenue near First Hawaiian Bank. Others held protest signs along the shoreline and about a dozen people on surfboards and a canoe held signs in the harbor.
Kalani Prais, a Hana resident, said he feared that people from Honolulu would go into his part of the island and take as much fish as possible to sell on Oahu.
"I no mind if they come fish and take a little," he said.
Jasmine Graham, a protester, said she felt the way the state Legislature had given an exemption to the Superferry was an abuse of power.
Mikahala Helm, a Wailuku resident, felt it was important to protect Maui's resources. "It's the essence why we live here ... so it needs to be taken care of," Helm said.
Several protesters shouted at the passenger in vehicles, "Go home" and "Don't Come Back."
Bowie said she didn't condone such behavior.
"I think that's unfortunate," she said. "I think the idea behind the rally was to show our displeasure for this special legislation and not directed to the passengers."
Some people boarding the Superferry said they're surprised the Hawaiian islands have gone without a ferry system.
Niko Mendoza, a surfer, said in the Philippines and Indonesia, most people travel by ferry because it is the cheapest mode of transportation.
"In all of these places, get ferry, only Hawaii no more," Mendoza said.
Mike Neagle, a Pukalani resident, said he thinks if there was a public vote, most people would support the Superferry.
Bridget Bunting, a Kihei resident, said she liked the convenience of the ferry.
"I think it's a great deal," she said.