Federal Judge Rules In Favor of Superferry 'Security Zone'

Oct 5, 2007 6:53 PM

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A legal victory for the Hawaii Superferry and the U.S. Coast Guard Friday. A federal judge ruled the coast guard can enforce a "security zone" for the Superferry on Kauai.

Disappointment for a Kauai lawyer and environmental groups. Federal judge Helen Gillmor denied their request for a temporary restraining order to stop a Coast Guard-enforced security zone for the Hawaii Superferry.

"I was disappointed, not all together surprised," said Lanny Sinkin, a Kauai attorney. "This is a very hot potato case."

Judge Gillmor ruled the Superferry has a right to navigate into Nawiliwili Harbor without interference, and the Coast Guard has a right to adopt a security zone to make sure there's no interference.

"What it says is what the Coast Guard's been saying all along," said Lt. John Titchen, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Coast Guard, 14th District. "That we're very confident in how we went about setting up this security zone and the coast guard thinks this is the most reasonable course of action for response there."

But some believe Friday's ruling is the catalyst for another major confrontation on Kauai.

"More people have become involved, and the numbers will be in the thousands and that the people are willing to risk their lives, and there will be bloodshed," said Megan Wong, a protestor from Kilauea, Kauai.  "People are wiling to be arrested, people are willing to be taken away from their homes."

And that's exactly why the Coast Guard said a security zone is needed.

"The coast guard has consistently sought the safest course of action," said Lt. Titchen. "And we want to de-escalate the situation and have tried to do that and have done that on several instances. And I think all those involved will recognize that the coast guard has many missions and we're drawn in many different directions, but in this instance have demonstrated great restraint."

Some protestors say they are trying to protect the environment.

"We are the people who were giving this responsibility to protect the aina, through our ancestors, through our kapunas," said Wong. "This was passed down to us that we feel like we have a responsibility to the island, to our environment."

They said the Superferry is just the tip of the iceberg.

Personally, I feel that there are too many cruise ships coming to our island right now, and they definitely need to do an EA (environmental assessment) as well," said Wong.  "All these other businesses that have been traveling without an EA or an EIS (environmental impact statement) definitely should be looked into."

A conflict that continues to grow, despite a court ruling.

Sinkin, the lawyer suing the Coast Guard, is looking at the next course of action. He plans to make a decision in the near future.