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UPDATE: Extra Enforcement Puts “Tail
Spin” on Return of Vessel to Molokai

Updated 12:00 PM HST, January 23, 2012
Posted 09:29 PM HST, January 21, 2012

Safari Explorer protest. Courtesy photo 1/21/12.

By Wendy Osher

A group of about 40 protesters returned to Kaunakakai Harbor on Molokai on Saturday, January 21, 2012, as the Safari Explorer vessel resumed port calls to the island.

“An agreement had been worked out and things had been going quite nicely,” said Molokai resident Walter Ritte, “but this show of force has put everything in a tail spin,” he said of the increased enforcement presence.

Ritte was among the group that shared words of discontent today, calling the government response “unfortunate.”

A variety of signs held in the demonstration included the statements, “We’re not terrorists,” “Be pono to Molokai,” and, “We have the right to access our ocean ways.”

The vessel, owned by the American Safari Cruises company, temporarily suspended port calls to the island last month in response to community concerns and a water blockade; but service resumed today under a compromise agreement reached with protesters who have argued that there was a lack of a community process in decisions related to tourism and its affects on the island’s lifestyle and resources.

Safari Explorer protest. Courtesy photo 1/21/12.

Supporters of the operation maintain that the 36-passenger Safari Explorer yacht supports local business, and helps to address the island’s historically high unemployment rate.

Company officials said the vessel resumed its visits to Molokai in accordance with the agreement reached with all parties.

“Unfortunately, a group of people chose not to abide by the agreement for a peaceful resumption of visits to the island, but many signs were also observed welcoming the yacht’s guests to Moloka’i,” said Sarah Scoltock, Director of Communications & Business Development at American Safari Cruises.

As the vessel returned, the state announced plans to implement a security zone one hour prior to the vessel’s harbor entries and departures.

Demonstrators expressed anger and resentment over additional enforcement presence saying it, “brought out many more protesters, and made things worse.”

Officials with the Maui Police Department said there were no reports of disorderly conduct and no arrests were made upon the ship’s arrival.

Company officials said the yacht docked without obstruction, and guests toured the island as planned during the day.

An evening pa’ina was also held celebrating one of the guest’s 70th birthday.

Ritte said, “The Aha Kiole o Molokai is still determined to keep it’s word, and will stand by it’s agreement to work with it’s community and present documents of its findings to the government after its meetings with the Molokai community.”

He further stated that, “The goal of the Aha Kiole is to bring a voice to its grass roots community that is fair and representative.”

Key supporters of the American Safari Cruise company say they plan to issue a statement regarding the resumption of service early next week.

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  • JSantos

    You lost your right to your waterways when you blocked legal harbor traffic.  Deal with it.  And yes, you are terrorists when you blockade a harbor. In any other city in the world, and the fools on the water would have been arrested.  You guys are getting off easy.

    • Me

      Yea. a few surf boards in the water is SO TERRIFYING!!  I can’t sleep at night thinking about it. I’m glad the federal government stepped in with a hundred men to keep the surfers out. God Bless the boundless wallet of america.

      • JSantos

        Im glad too.

  • Joe

    This enforcement was necessary. Before the ship came in there were reports about people threatening a Lahaina based dive ship and telling them to get out of Molokai. They even threatened to throw people overboard. What’s up with that? So yeah, Coast Guard wasn’t worried about “a few surfboards in the water”, they were worried about nutcases with criminal histories. Maybe some people like acts of violence but I’d rather see my tax dollars at work and keeping criminals away. Good job.

  • Mike

    The beauty of Moloka’i unlike most other places in Hawai’i is that their people are unswayed by money and capitalism. They don’t want their community to become like Lahaina or Waikiki or any other tourist destination. I for one am proud of the people their for standing up for their way of life. Why doesn’t the cruise ship just take the hint and leave Moloka’i alone?!

    • Bumpy

      Cause in this country people are free to visit anywhere, anytime, and can not be stopped by some local terrorists.  Why dont you guys block the Molokai Ferry while you are at it since that bring in more people per week that DONT LIVE on Molokai than this little boat you guys are calling a cruise ship.  

  • RD

    ohhh mannn, I gotta use the bathroom and will catch up with you guys later… but will buy a pack of smokes first…

  • The_truth

    Lame, ignorance, hard headed, and plain stupid… What makes you think that 50 people can speak on behalf of 7000… Ask around and the mayority of the community is in favor of a “small” vessel providing jobs to local businesses and farmers. This in return will provide jobs to the local community…
    No matter how you look at it, one boat will nor prevent you from fishing in our own waters. It might prevent you from collecting welfare though… oh yeah, that might be the reason why you don’t want the island to prosper and move forward, because you are just too lazy to get up from Monday to Friday at 7 am and be at work by 8 am… It is always easier and more fun to sleep in, drink all night and have no responsibilities at all..
    Think about your children and allow them to have a future, break the cicle of abusing alcohol, drugs, and your own family!!!

    GROW UP.

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