Still ensnared in legal troubles spurred by
environmental protest, Hawaii Superferry is preparing to sail
again, albeit briefly.
On Saturday, the
350-foot ferry, the Alakai, will sail between Oahu and Maui in
order to "to reunite owners with vehicles stranded on Oahu and
Maui," the operator said.
The vehicles were
left on the islands last week after environmentalists gained a
temporary restraining order, which shut down the inter-island ferry
service until the state conducts an environmental impact
A court hearing has
been slated for Monday to determine if the ferry service will be
able to continue operating while the study is being
It has been a
tumultuous two weeks for the fledgling ferry service, which began
operating on Aug.
A day after it
launched, environmental groups, who have been long critical of the
service, staged a protest in the wake of an Aug. 23 ruling by
Hawaii's Supreme Court's stating that the state's government should
have conducted an environmental impact study before permitting
Hawaii Superferry to operate.
The Supreme Court's
ruling overturned a lower court's July 2005 ruling permitting the
service, after environmental groups challenged it then.
During its second
day of operation, dozens of protestors riding surfboards formed a
blockade to prevent the ferry vessel's entry into Kauai's
Nawiliwili Harbor, according to published reports.
was later suspended through at least Sept. 9 after the U.S. Coast
Guard informed Hawaii Superferry that, in light of the
environmental protests, it could not ensure safe passage into the
The USCG has also
said it intends to establish a designated area in or around the
harbor specifically for protestors, so that the ferry can operate.
However, it remains unclear whether the service would
said in statement that so far, "We have not yet been given
assurances from the Coast Guard for safe passage into Nawiliwili
appeared as if the controversy over Hawaii Superferry was
Advertiser, a local newspaper, reported that state government
officials were critical of the court's ruling in favor of an
officials said they acted properly in permitting the ferry's
operation and questioned the fairness of the court's ruling,
arguing that other modes of transportation such as airlines and
cruise ships are typically not required to undergo environmental
impact evaluations in order to launch new services, the news report
environmental groups contend a study is necessary to determine
whether Hawaii Superferry, which is capable of carrying 866
passengers and more than 300 vehicles, will have an impact on the
island's sea life.
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].