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Marine Log

November 5, 2007

Governor sets conditions for Superferry operations

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has signed into law the bill that allows Hawaii Superferry to operate while the state conducts an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). She also announced more than 40 separate conditions and sub-conditions that are designed to minimize the impact of the ferry's operation on Hawaii's environment.

Governor Lingle met and consulted with a broad range of individuals and groups throughout the state to solicit input on the operating conditions. Based on the input she received, the Governor established conditions the ferry must follow in order to reduce the risk of the ferry striking a whale or other marine mammal, minimize the transport of invasive species between the islands, preserve ocean and coastal water quality, protect cultural resources, lower the impact of cars on local traffic, and ensure public safety and security.

Various environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and The Nature Conservancy, suggested to the Governor that the state conduct a rapid risk assessment during the first months of the ferry's operation "and I have already directed the Department of Transportation to commission such a study," Governor Lingle said.

Under the law allowing the ferry to operate the Governor has the ability to amend the conditions she has just set by Executive Order, and the Legislature can impose new conditions by statute during the 2008 legislative session.

"A quick risk assessment could prove very valuable in deciding whether to change the current conditions or whether to impose new ones," Governor Lingle explained.

Specific conditions Hawai'i Superferry will be required to follow include:

  • Post two persons to act as whale lookouts and request that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) certified fisheries observers, currently residing in Hawaii, such as graduates and members of Alu Like's Marine Stewardship Program, be on board Hawaii Superferry's ships to monitor marine life and warn the ship's crew in time to prevent potential collisions.

  • Avoid operating within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary or in waters less than 100 fathoms from January 1 to April 30, except in instances that are in the interest of the safety or comfort of passengers.

  • Conduct agricultural screenings and inspections of passengers and all vehicles, including visual inspections of engines, interiors, undercarriages, wheel wells, trunks, and beds of pickup trucks. Vehicles that are excessively muddy or that have prohibited items will be turned away, or the prohibited items taken away.

  • Notify passengers in advance that all vehicles, camping, hiking, hunting, diving, snorkeling, fishing and boating equipment should be thoroughly washed and free of debris.

  • Ban living plants and propagative plant parts (e.g., roots and root stock) that are not accompanied by a Hawaii Department of Agriculture (DOA) Certificate of Inspection.

  • Require passengers to declare all plants, fruits and seeds, and permit inspections of such items by the Department of Agriculture.

  • Consider establishing a special transport rate for agricultural products.

  • Prohibit the transport of logs, cut trees, and tree limbs.

  • Ban the transport of rocks, soil, sand, dirt, or dead coral, except for soil or dirt in potted plants inspected and cleared for transport by the Department of Agriculture.

  • Ban the transport of opihi, lobster, or other crustaceans, and fishing nets of all kinds.

  • Prohibit the transport of iwi [human remains] or human bones.

  • Provide passengers with information concerning restrictions on the use of cultural and natural resources, including hunting and fishing rules and camping permit requirements.

  • Consider adding a cultural briefing on Hawaii's cultural and natural resources as part of its on board education program.

  • Comply with all state water pollution laws, rules and regulations, and refrain from discharging wastewater into the ocean.

  • Conduct complete traffic studies and implement a vehicle movement and management plan for each port of operation as directed by the Department of Transportation. The traffic studies will be used to adjust vessel arrival and departure schedules as necessary to lessen the impact of arriving cars on local traffic.

  • Employ trained staff to manage traffic entering and exiting each port terminal facility and post security guards or off-duty police officers to direct traffic and control signals to minimize traffic problems.

  • Cooperate with any risk assessment conducted by or authorized by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture.

Also today, the State and Hawaii Superferry will file a motion before Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza to immediately lift his injunction and allow Superferry to operate utilizing Kahului Harbor.

"I hope the judge quickly lifts the injunction so the people can begin benefiting from this new and important service," Governor Lingle said.