Community insecure over new security zone

| January 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Kaunakakai Harbor security zone can be enforced anytime between Jan. 20 and May 15, 2012. Notification of specific enforcement times will be provided via a broadcast notice to mariners and the display of a red flag at the Kaunakakai Harbor Master's building.


The U.S. Coast Guard and the state of Hawaii’s plan to create a security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor received a combative response at today’s informational community meeting.

The U.S.C.G. announced Friday 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.”

Protesters who blocked the Safari Explorer on Nov. 26 had agreed to not interfere with the arrival of the boat this Saturday. As part of the agreement, American Safari Cruises would wait until after the last of four moku ‘Aha Ki’ole meetings to consider the island’s position on this 36-passenger cruise boat and tourism in general.

William Aila, chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, explained his position outside the Mitchell Pau’ole Center. “We felt this was the prudent thing to do. We have to make public health and safety number one.”

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Joanna Nunan and DLNR Chair William Aila field questions and defend the enforcement of a security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor.


USCG Captain Joanna Nunan said the security zone was planned to be “as small and short as possible.” The zone extends 1,375 yards out to sea from the middle of wharf road and is 770 yards wide. With the Safari Explorer expected to arrive at 7:30 a.m., enforcement of the security zone will begin at 6:30 a.m. and stop at 7:40 a.m. The security zone will resume again one hour before the boat leaves on Sunday.

Several residents expressed concerns about this security zone violating their rights. “We have to balance rights with public safety,” Aila responded.

Any unauthorized vessel in the zone will receive a warning. If it stays in the security zone, the vessel will be subject to civil penalties of up to $40,000 or criminal penalties including imprisonment for up to 10 years and forfeiture of the vessel.

Kanoho Helm, an organizer of the group I Aloha Molokai, stood up to say how this zone will interfere with boats and canoes used for gathering and fishing. Aila asked Helm when he plans to use the harbor area and they would try to accommodate him. “I practice my traditional Hawaiian rights all the time and without a $40,000 fine.”

Molokai Planning Commissioner Lori Buchanan said the state and the federal government are both in violation of their own processes in creating this security zone, which, she said, could lead to lawsuits. “This is not pono,” said Buchanan. “You are stepping up the aggravation in the community. This is the Superferry all over again.”

A designated area for protesters will be open along the fence line bordering Young Brothers. Once the security zone is set at 6:30 a.m., no additional protesters will be allowed in this area.

Concerns about invasive species coming to Molokai in the rubbish brought from Kona by the Safari Explorer were also raised. Aila said he would talk to Captain Dan Blanchard of ASC about returning the opala to the Big Island.

Local activist Hano Naehu said this security zone “makes us feel like terrorists … I feel like I’m being raped.”

“No one can guarantee that nothing is going to happen,” said Aila, “so this is a prudent action.”

Even supporters of the Safari Explorer questioned this action. “I don’t believe we need to go to these drastic measures,” said Clare Mawae, whose company Molokai Outdoors will provide ground transportation for the visitors. “There has always been a trust in this community.”

When asked if a simple patrol would work, Aila said it is difficult to enforce the area without a security zone in place. “That’s just the way it is … This vessel has the right to fair passage and that’s what we’re here for.”

Neither the DLNR nor the Coast Guard would say exactly how long this security zone would remain in place. While Safari Explorer has cruises planned until May, the security zone may be abandoned before then. “We don’t know for how long (it will remain),” said Aila. “Once the community is OK with it (the Safari Explorer) we can dial it back.”

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  1. Sometimes I wish I could speak better than when I write and yes there was so much more that I wanted to say at tonight’s meeting…Yes it is Clare again….So I am for the American Safari but I feel low at the thought of the zoning of the harbor. We forget we are talking about Saturday am when the early birds are out and about and then Sunday afternoon, when the paddlers are coming down from Kamalo.

    How can a handful of potential protestors bring a fear to safety where the coastguard feels it is necessary to come in and block the whole harbor. I totally understand where Harbors and the coastguard are coming from but in my opinion this is just adding more fuel to the fire…and now one issue has opened up another one and how long will this continue on and when will this stop?

    So many ways we can look at this from all angles but to be honest it is how we go about it. Do we fight angry words with angry words, or do we seek solutions and find balance and compromise where all sides with a passionate fire within can just respect one another no matter on their personal opinion and not push the boundaries and take drastic measures.

    Tonight I talked of trust and so what if a few protestors decide to go against their organization.Surely we do not need to resort to extremes and block off the whole harbor. Sure In knowing that if it was not for the previous water protests or the talks of staging another then the coastguard would not be resorting to these extremes..But the question that I have “ When is enough, enough..”

  2. MolokaiMade says:

    Good news and nothing wrong with a little extra security. If no need, no need. If need, then good thing.

    Molokai’s terrorists lost this one!

  3. SpacemanHonuFan says:

    This action was not as a result of the tour boat, this action was the result of a few shortsighted individuals acting under the leadership of a man whose Aloha aina warriors seem to believe they were above the law. Now they have gotten the attention of the federal government, and many people who just want to fish and go hang out on the water get to pay the price.

    The blockade is well documented on youtube and elsewhere. Why did they not simply arrest all involved for their federal offenses and leave it at that. Blocking waterways is illegal. They should pay an appropriate price. Not the law abiding citizens of Molokai who now get to shoulder the burden of a few.

    As well, now we are on the radar for federal officials, our sometimes quiet way of resolving situations may be in jeopardy.

    I see the irony of how the angry expression of the desire for no change has brought so much change. WR and the minions have guaranteed what they have beheld, and we all get to pay the price.

    Federal Enforcement of Law – 1
    Aloha Aina Warriors – 0

    It kinda sucks all around.

  4. steve says:

    i’m with “2findingthebalance” on this one.

    waltah gave his word (ua has jumped in there as well), that they are ok with the return of the tour taxi.

    how ya’ gonna build a bridge of trust unless both sides can be confident the other will deliver on their part of the “bargain”?

    might be a good idea to take them at their word and see if they can deliver.

    hoping for the good folks of molokai that the coast guard goes very low key on this operation.

    btw- i like the new mpc’s tancayo’s style already- “instead of just sitting there and bitching…”

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