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Coast Guard Reviews Safari Explorer Security Zone

Courtesy photo from Nov. 26, 2011 weekend water blockade at Kaunakakai, Molokai with Safari Explorer vessel in the distance.

By Wendy Osher

The Coast Guard reopened the comment period for the interim rule that established a temporary security zone at Kaunakakai Harbor during visits of the Passenger Vessel Safari Explorer.

The company cancelled its port calls in November 2011 in response to community concerns following a water blockade and protests; but resumed service about two months later after reaching an apparent compromise that included the security zone.

Opponents had called for community input into decisions over tourism on the island, expressing concerns over impacts on the island’s lifestyle and resources.  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.

The effective period for the existing temporary security zone began on January 19, 2012 and ends on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.  The comment period was reopened on April 24, and closed on May 7, 2012.

State officials say the current temporary security zone is enforced one hour prior to Kaunakakai Harbor entries and departures by the passenger vessel Safari Explorer.  Notice of the zone’s activation is also provided by broadcast notices to mariners and the display of a red flag at the Kaunakakai Harbor Master’s building.

During the additional comment period, the Coast Guard had sought comments on how the temporary interim rule could be improved.

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