Coast Guard to enforce security zone for Kaunakakai Harbor

| January 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Safari Explorer will return to Kaunakai Harbor Jan. 21 under the protection of a Coast Guard security zone.

Governor calls community meeting to present the security plan, Tuesday 4:30 p.m., Mitchell Pau’ole Center

Following the recent blockade of Kaunakakai Harbor by protesters, concerns were voiced across the coconut wireless, as well as through the media, regarding the rule of law on Molokai. Does it exist in the waterways around the island? And if so, who is doing the enforcement?

It seems like the Coast Guard was listening. In today’s Federal Register, The U.S. Coast Guard announced it will establish a temporary security zone for the harbor “during potential non-compliant protests involving the passenger vessel Safari Explorer to its intended berth in the harbor.”

On Nov. 26, protesters on surfboards and small vessels blocked the American Safari Cruises boat, the Safari Explorer, from making dock in Kaunakakai.

In response, Molokai Chamber of Commerce President Rob Stephenson wrote, “When there is interference with lawful commerce it can set a precedent that may have significant consequences to a fragile economy like ours.”

A well-attended Nov. 30 community meeting on this issue was followed by negotiations between ASC and community leaders. In an attempt to “preserve Molokai’s unique character, history and traditions,” wrote ASC, an agreement was reached that would allow the ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai to meet publicly with all four of its moku, or districts, before the Safari Explorer would return to Molokai. The final meeting, covering the Kaluakoi Moku, is in Maunaloa Jan. 17. The Safari Explorer announced it will return to its two-day visits Jan. 21-22.

The Coast Guard explains the justification for this new rule:

“Given this past protest activity and the communicated desire of certain persons to carry out protest activities in the future, certain individuals may attempt to implement the same or similar techniques in order to impede future transits by the Safari Explorer. By designating the waters and land within Kaunakakai Harbor as a security zone, to be enforced prior to scheduled Safari Explorer transits, the regulation provides the Coast Guard and its law enforcement partners the authority to prevent persons and vessels from intentionally blocking the channel and ensures the safe passage of the vessel.”

A press release issued today from Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s office addresses the specifics of enforcement. “The security zone will be enforced one hour prior to Kaunakakai Harbor entries and departures by the passenger vessel Safari Explorer. Notice of the zone’s activation will be provided by broadcast notices to mariners and the display of a red flag at the Kaunakakai Harbor Master’s building.”

The governor’s press release also announces a community meeting to present the security plan for the resumption of port calls by American Safari Cruises. It will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17, at Mitchell Pau’ole Community Center in Kaunakakai.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila will be joined at this meeting by officials from the state Department of Transportation, the Maui County Police and the U.S. Coast Guard who oversee and ensure environmental, public and navigational safety in the harbor. Aila and the DLNR have been in discussions with ASC and community members to negotiate this issue on behalf of the state.

The rule establishing the security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor goes into effect at 11 p.m. on Jan. 19 and continues through 9 a.m. May 15. During this time, entry into the temporary security zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Honolulu, or her designated representatives.

A 21-day comment period begins today on this new rule. Comments and materials related to this ruling can be submitted to the Coast Guard on or before Feb. 3.

You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2011-1159 using any one of the following methods:
1. Federal eRulemaking Portal:
2. Fax: (202) 493-2251.
3. Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
4. Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

If you have questions on this temporary rule call or email Lieutenant Commander Scott O. Whaley, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 808-522-8264 (ext. 352), email If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

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  1. sue kennedy says:

    Have followed this with broken heart…isn’t this what occured with the Paulet Affair of 1843? King Kamehameha III was bullied into submission. Or what Queen Lili’uokalani faced on January 17, 1893. Read again her statement of that date! Stay united and hope for peaceful resolve

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