STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) -- Wednesday, Governor Linda Lingle announced the Hawaii Superferry will resume service to Kauai. The coast guard, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, will provide security to ensure the Superferry can safely enter and leave Nawiliwili Harbor.
The governor made the announcement early Wednesday afternoon. The Superferry will resume service two weeks from Wednesday, with a "temporary daylight schedule" which means, it would only operate in the day time. But environmental groups are not happy about it.
After weeks of legal and political wrangling, a portion of the Superferry's fate has been decided. The governor, along with federal and state agencies, came up with the plan. She said safety is the utmost concern.
"And it means lawful opportunities for those who want to protest," said Governor Lingle.
And those opportunities include a designated area for protestors on the harbor.
"Any other areas within the security zone are not to be entered by swimmers, kayakers, canoeists, or any other vessels unless they have the clear concurrence of the captain of the port," said Admiral Sally Brice-O'Hara of the U.S. Coast Guard.
But environmental groups are not happy the Superferry is given the green light. This before a study is complete about the impacts of ferry service on harbors both in Maui and Kauai.
"There's nothing unique about the trip between Oahu and Kahului versus Oahu and Nawiliwili," said Jeff Mikulina, the director of the Hawaii Sierra Club. "That's why the state is looking at it as a whole entire activity."
If protestors violate the security zone, they could face severe felony-level penalties. The governor said the goal is to uphold the law.
"It's not our desire to arrest anyone," she said. "It's not our preference to inconvenience anyone, but it is Superferry's legal right to use Nawiliwili harbor."
"Our environmental review law is clear that when you trigger one aspect of an activity, you have to examine the whole thing," said Mikulina.
The daytime schedule is designed to prevent the kind of confrontations between protestors and Superferry passengers in the past.
This announcement Wednesday does not affect the Superferry's fate on Maui. A court hearing is on-going this week, and Judge Joseph Cardoza will make a ruling after all witness testimonies have been submitted.