Kauai residents voice concerns, optimisms with ferry system

It’s been almost 10 years since protesters rallied against the Superferry in Nawiliwili, but some Kauai residents have their reservations and optimisms about an interisland ferry system that may reemerge, pending a state study.

The opinions of Kauai residents TGI spoke with on Thursday agreed on one thing: a ferry would be beneficial for interisland travel. However, they said the state would have to follow the appropriate protocols, environmental studies and gather public feedback before initiating the venture.

“The state should look into interisland ferry. We need alternative transportation,” said Jimmy Trujillo, one of several protesters at Nawiliwili almost a decade ago. “It’s obvious that the airlines and the monopoly that the airlines have is not benefiting the local traveler.”

The Kapahi resident said individuals involved in the protest were unhappy with the state for not following its own rules.

“They needed to do an environmental impact statement, then the appropriate steps would be taken. But they fast-tracked it,” he said. “I think people on Kauai would benefit using an interisland ferry, but they wouldn’t want to support if it would cause environmental harm.”

Ferry operations were suspended in 2009 after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the state’s operations of the ferry without a second complete EIS was unconstitutional.

“As far as hurting the environment, I think they did do an EIS after they started the ferry. They found out it wasn’t hurting the whales, the dolphins,” said Kapaa man Steve Yoder.

Yoder said a ferry system would create jobs and more economic opportunities for the state. He added it would be an alternative to traveling by plane.

“I’d use it to go to Oahu for a few days and maybe visit friends. It would be a lot less expensive putting a family of five to take the boat across,” he said. ”

Dominic Acain of Kekaha said in order for a ferry system to work, the pros need to outweigh the cons.

“If an EIS is completed, no shortcuts to bypass regulations, the infrastructure islandwide is upgraded to accommodate the influx of people and additional traffic, resources are available to prevent invasive species be it animal or plant, additional resources of enforcement personnel to protect and preserve our resources, natural habitat and criminal activity, then maybe I might be convinced to support it,” Acain said.

He also has reservations about the transport of interisland vehicles.

“We don’t need to increase traffic that’s already congested we need a way to cut it down,” he said. “Depending on the type of ferry, we can have a great alternative to interisland transportation or a nightmare that will ruin the island irreparably.”

Kauai Community College student Shaina Nacion would like to see a detailed EIS before making a determination about the reemergence of a ferry system.

“The convenience would be great, but I’d be concerned about invasive species (like mongoose) as well as underwater noise pollution,” she wrote in a text.

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