HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A unique proposal for an artificial reef off Oahu's west and southeast shores using the cremated remains of loved ones has created backlash from some community members.
"I'm already hearing from people who are appalled by this. In fact, kupuna are saying this is hewa," cultural adviser for Livable Hawaii Kai Hui Ann Marie Kirk.
"For me personally, as a Hawaiian too, it just doesn't sit well in my na'au," Clyde Kaimuloa said.
The company, Hawaii Memorial Reefs, is already accepting advanced reservations for their two planned locations: Aloha reef in Koolina and Paradise Reef in Maunalua Bay. Hawaii Memorial Reefs is proposing a seven-acre artificial reef in Maunalua Bay.
The company constructs artificial reefs using concrete spheres called "reef balls" that would incorporate your loved ones cremated remains. The firm's founder says it's a practice that's been proven and tested over the years and it's been used all over.
"We're actually not trying to build an underwater cemetery, we're trying to build an artificial reef and we're using the cremains of your loved one and the dedications to actually help fund the building of the reef," Richard Filanc said.
Filanc said the reef balls would be deployed in 50 feet of water about 1/2 a mile off shore.
He also says he doesn't want to call it an "underwater cemetery," rather an alternative to traditional burial while enhancing Hawaii's ecological habitat.
"Because we're an island community, we have limited space. And as the population grows, we need more land to develop for cemeteries and this is actually more environmentally conscious than actually developing more land for cemeteries," Filanc said.
"We didn't just fall off the back of the kalo truck, we understand that this is about money. This is a commercial venture and we already have scientists who are saying that that's not good for the bay, that Maunalua doesn't need that," Kirk said.
The company hopes to begin dedication in 2017.