'Security zone' planned for ship's visit

WAILUKU – The U.S. Coast Guard will enforce a temporary “security zone” around Kaunakakai Harbor when the Safari Explorer cruise ship resumes visits to Molokai this week.

The zone will include the entrance channel and waters around the channel’s entrance, and will be enforced starting one hour before the ship enters and departs the harbor, state officials said. Other boaters will be notified that the zone has been activated by broadcast notices and the display of a red flag at the Kaunakakai harbor master’s building.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Coast Guard officials will hold a meeting to present the security plans at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center in Kaunakakai. DLNR Chairman William Aila will participate in the meeting, along with officials from the state Department of Transportation, the Maui Police Department and the Coast Guard.

Also Tuesday, the group Aha Kiole will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. at Maunaloa Community Center to discuss residents’ cruise ship concerns and other community issues, said organizer Walter Ritte.

Ritte, who participated in protests in November that led to an American Safari Cruises vessel turning back from Kaunakakai Harbor, said the security zone was not necessary. He said his group had already told officials they would not interfere with the ship’s arrival.

“It seems like overkill to us over here,” he said. “We don’t expect anybody to be in the water that day, and we told them that, but they’re going to do it anyway.”

He said protesters had reached a compromise with DLNR and American Safari officials for cruise visits to resume after the Molokai community had an opportunity to hold a series of public meetings to gather input.

He said the state had indicated that it would take steps to address concerns raised by community members at the meetings, and comments could also be recommended for inclusion in the county’s Molokai Island Plan.

Aila said Tuesday’s meeting in Kaunakakai would be “the next step in keeping an open dialogue with the community.”

“The people of Molokai have shown leadership in seeking a resolution to concerns that were raised about tour operations, and we want to thank them for working with the state in an open dialogue,” he said.

More information about the security zone, including instructions for how to comment on the plan, can be found at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-13/pdf/2012-549.pdf.

The Safari Explorer is expected to make its port call at Kaunakakai on Saturday.

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