State to hold community meeting on modified security presence at Kaunakakai Harbor

State to reduce time for security zone to 20 minutes once Safari Explorer reaches Kaunakakai buoy

DLNR News Release

The State of Hawaii and the U.S. Coast Guard will hold a follow-up community meeting to present updated information on security operations for future American Safari Cruises port calls to Molokai. The meeting will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30, at Mitchell Pau‘ole Community Center in Kaunakakai.

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Joanna Nunan and DLNR Chairman William Aila talk with protester Leimana Naki during last Saturday's protest at Kaunakakai Wharf.

In continuing the State’s open dialogue with the community, this meeting will provide a progress report concerning port calls by American Safari Cruises to Molokai. The next arrival of the vessel will be on January 31.

“Our objective is to ensure the safety of people and the natural environment while minimizing disruption of normal activities at Kaunakakai wharf,” Aila said. “I am pleased with the progress made with Safari Explorer as well as with the protestors who peacefully expressed their concerns last week.

“The people of Molokai have shown leadership in seeking a peaceful resolution to concerns that were raised about tour operations, and we want to thank them for continuing to engage the state and Coast Guard,” he said.

Chair Aila will be joined by officials from the state Department of Transportation, the Maui Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, who oversee and ensure environmental, public and navigational safety in the harbor.

Since December, Molokai residents and officials have held meetings to discuss the future of tour operations on Molokai. Chair Aila has been actively participating in those discussions on behalf of the state.

The U.S. Coast Guard is still seeking public comment on a temporary security zone that has been established for the waters of Kaunakakai Harbor. Specific details on the security zone, including instructions on submitting comments, can be reviewed here.

In response to concerns voiced by Kaunakakai Harbor users and observations made during security zone enforcement operations last weekend, efforts will be made to alter the timing of the zone and reduce its duration for upcoming transits by the Safari Explorer.

Specifically, the security zone will be enforced after the Safari Explorer’s arrival at the Kaunakakai Harbor entrance buoys and kept in place until the vessel is safely moored at the pier. It is anticipated that the zone will only be in place for approximately 20 minutes during inbound transits. Notice of the zone’s activation will be provided by broadcast notices to mariners and the display of a red flag at the entrance gate of the Kaunakakai wharf.

“I enjoyed meeting with Kaunakakai Harbor stakeholders and Molokai residents last week and greatly appreciate their feedback,” said Captain Joanna Nunan, Commander of USCG Sector Honolulu. “As a result of the input we received, we are adjusting the timing and duration of our security zone enforcement to better balance safety, commerce, and recreational use of Molokai’s only port.”

“I’d like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard and State DLNR for working together with the Maui Police Department on this,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “This was all about ensuring public safety, not just for those on the cruise ship but also that of the protesters. Let us hope we can have more successful partnerships like this in the future.”


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