Maui News

UPDATE: 200+ People Attend Molokai Cruise Ship Meeting

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By Wendy Osher

Molokai cruise ship meeting, Nov. 30, 2011. Photo courtesy Catherine Cluett/Molokai Dispatch.

(Update: 8 p.m. 12/1/11)

Safari Explorer CEO Dan Blanchard issued a statement this afternoon informing the Molokai Community that the company’s vessel will postpone its planned Friday and Saturday visits to the island.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for the overwhelming participation in last night’s community meeting,” said Blanchard in the email statement.

Blanchard said it is the company’s intention to find “a workable solution to this situation.”

“We are working with members of the community to further this goal,” said Blanchard. “In this effort, we have elected to postpone the Safari Explorer’s arrival in Moloka’i.”


Blanchard said he is committed to further dialogue and will “respectfully work with leaders in the community.

After last night’s meeting, Molokai resident Walter Ritte had noted that if the company returned as originally scheduled on Friday, opponents had planned on protesting.

(Posted: 6:50 a.m. 12/1/11)

About 200 people showed up for a community meeting on Molokai last night to discuss the controversy over a cruise company doing business on the island.

The meeting came on the heels of a water blockade over the weekend in which protesters turned back a scheduled docking of the American Safari Cruises vessel by blocking the entrance to Kaunakakai Harbor.


While members of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce expressed optimism in a resolution, opponents said they plan to protest again if the vessel returns during its next scheduled docking on Friday.

Molokai Chamber of Commerce President Robert Stephenson said he is optimistic for a positive outcome. He said the wisdom of kupuna at the meeting “showed us the way to behave in resolving our differences.”

“We are grateful the community understands the importance of viable commerce and lawful behavior,” said Stephenson upon conclusion of the meeting.

Courtesy photo from weekend water blockade at Kaunakakai, Molokai.

In an email statement this morning, opponent Walter Ritte said, “many were angry that there was no chance for community participation or input and that a few people made the decision to begin this safari cruises to Molokai; others called on everyone to work together and resolve the issues.”

In addition to calls for community input on decisions over tourism, opponents have also expressed concerns over impacts of the ship on the island’s lifestyle and resources.


According to Ritte, protesters offered an olive branch as a truce, with the aha Kiole o Molokai offering to facilitate a community process. He said the offer was denied because it would have required the company to stop visits to allow for the proposed process.

“As indigenous people of Hawaii we demand full and effective participation and free, prior and informed consent before they come and commercialize our culture and knowledge,” said Ritte. “No one is going to force their way onto Molokai, or sneak onto our island,” he said.

Backers of the cruise company say the operation supports local business, and helps to address the island’s historically high unemployment rate.

“We are grateful the community understands the importance of viable commerce and lawful behavior,” said Stephenson upon conclusion of the meeting.

In an earlier statement he said, “When there is interference with lawful commerce it can set a precedent that may have significant consequences to a fragile economy like ours.”



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