POSTED: 20 MARCH 2008 - 9:00am HST

Yes. Kauai came to testify!

image above: KITV News films, while Honolulu Advertiser reporter takes note at afternoon session.

by Juan Wilson on 20 march 2008

About 40-60 attended the afternoon session of the Hawaii Superferry Environmental Impact Study hearing at KCC, in Puhi. Only four attended the afternoon session on Oahu, an island with over tens times the population as Kauai. That represents 100 times the participation.

Kauai's two sessions broke the reocord of attendence on all islands at all sessions.

The testimony went 100% against the operation of the Superferry. Many, including myself, questioned the appropriateness of Belt Collins as the consultant to do the EIS and even the afer the fact EIS process itself.


If completed, the 2030 Hawaii Harbor Master Plan is going to cost over $800 million to expand and reinforce an economic model which will soon be obsolete. The premises the governor and DOT have assumed true are that:
Energy and food will continue to be cheap.

1) That Hawaii will continue its dependence on tourism for its economy.

2) Hawaii will continue to import virtually all its food and manufactured goods.

3) That inefficient seasonal high-speed transportation of cars are needed between islands.

4) The focus for state harbor improvements should be on large harbors and not small ones.

None of these things are likely to be true in 2030, or even 2015, for that matter. These assumptions need to be carefully examined before the state considers a detailed EIS of their consequences.

We see throughout the state that passenger tour ship traffic is waning. Kauai traffic has been reduced to a single ship.

The inefficiency of the Superferry as a mode of passenger transportation versus jet travel does not justify it existence. The needs for high-speed travel of cargo has not been demonstrated.

The failure of the engineering of the Superferry Alakai indicates that the vessel is not capable of year round service, and cannot handle the unanticipated (but predictable) Hawaiian winter rough seas.

The DOT wanted to rush through a no-bid contract to Belt-Collins for a quick snow job and cover-up. At least that scheme got shot down. None the less, Belt-Collins got the contract. A cursory investigation of recent history shows that the state has had a history of conflict of interest with this firm.

Belt-Collins history of failed engineering may even include the failure of the Koloko Dam here on Kauai. Belt-Collins was Jimmy Pflueger’s engineering consultant before the dam failure on his property. Belt-Collins is named in a lawsuit that claims they failed to take appropriate actions to correct a 1997 grading violation — including removal of material that covered the spillway, and/or notifying the county of the precise area filled in 1997, including the spillway. The suits say the consultants' actions were "negligent or grossly negligent."

This EIS is a “white-washing” of a failed process pushed by the DOT and Governor. The assumption that an EIS could be performed after the Superferry began operations demonstrates how invalid this study is. In a sensitive case such as the Superferry, Belt-Collins should resign from acting as a consultant. No one can trust its results.

Kauai’s small boat harbor’s are a shambles. A better Master Plan approach would be to concentrate on improving our small boat harbors. Perhaps putting them under DOT instead of DLNR.

The governor and legislature should reevaluate the purpose of the 2030 Harbor Master Plan with a look at the 2050 Sustainability Plan that indicates expensive energy, need for local food and a lack of tourism will be formative in our future economy. If they do, they won’t find a 40,0000 horsepower, 40 mile-per-hour, floating football field profitably plying the islands.

In short: This is a bogus process, by a disreputable agent on a bad premise.

Juan Wilson: Artitect-Planner
Hanapepe Valley, Kona, Kauai


The following is backup material for my testimony.

Bold Improvements to Be Completed by 2014
Lingle Press release 18 December 2007
Lingle Announces State Harbors Modernization Plan. Currently, 98 percent of Hawai‘i’s imported goods pass through its harbors, including consumer goods, vehicles and fuel. That volume is expected to climb by as much as 27 percent in 2010 and by as much as 93 percent in 2020. In addition, interisland barge departures from Honolulu Harbor are increasing steadily, Hawai‘i’s cruise industry has grown and the Hawai‘i Superferry is providing new opportunities for passengers to travel between the islands with their vehicles.

As cargo and passenger traffic increases, harbor user operations have been hampered by a lack of adequate space. The improvements encompassed by the Harbors Modernization Plan will ensure that capacity is in place to meet current and future demand. The plan’s statewide capital expenditures are estimated to total $842 million. Improvements will be paid for by the Harbors Special Fund and will not utilize any general funds.

“Our harbors are vital to the economic life of Hawai‘i and need to be improved to handle the increased demand for cargo in line with population, visitor and business growth,” said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. “I’m confident that the Harbors Modernization Plan offers the right course of action. It was developed cooperatively and is comprehensive in scope.” 

Act 2 EIS Statement
from HSF EIS by Belt Collins 17 March 2007

Purpose of the Environmental Impact Statement
The purpose of this EIS is to evaluate the environmental consequences of the proposed action and its secondary impacts, including impacts of a large-capacity ferry vessel operator. Responsible opposing views on significant environmental issues will be identified so that the DOT may make a sound decision...

Purpose of the Action
The purpose of the DOT’s action is to provide harbor improvements within the DOT’s existing commercial harbors to support large-capacity ferry operations...

DOT commercial harbor improvements are needed to allow large-capacity ferry vessels to operate within the state of Hawaii. The legislature, as documented in Act 2, Second Special Session of 2007, found that the operation of a large-capacity ferry vessel company, specifically one that uses a new class of large-capacity ferry vessels capable of transporting large numbers of people, motor vehicles, and cargo with ease, to be in the public interest because it provides a real and innovative alternative to existing modes of transporting people, motor vehicles, and cargo between the islands of the state.

State trying to gallop forward on assessment for Superferry

by Richard Borreca 12 September 2007 in The Star Bulletin
According to documents filed with the state Procurement Office, the Transportation Department is asking for an exemption so it can issue a $1 million nonbid contract to the consulting firm of Belt-Collins.

Hawaii Superferry study to go to open bid

by Derrick DePledge n 19 September 2008 in The Honolulu Advertiser
The state Department of Transportation has withdrawn a request for an exemption to state procurement law for an environmental assessment for Hawaii Superferry, opening up the process to competitive bidding.

The department had applied for the exemption because it believed Belt Collins, which is doing an environmental impact statement for the state as part of a 2030 master plan for Kahului Harbor in Maui, could do the work quickly. Michael Formby, the department's deputy director for harbors, said he was contacted last week by other contractors interested in performing the review.

The environmental assessment is expected to take eight months and the department wants to move quickly because delays could lead to the Superferry leaving the Islands. Formby said competitive bidding would only add a few more weeks to the selection process. He said bids are due by Tuesday.

"We just thought it was worth the extra time," Formby said.

Last week, Lance Collins, a Wailuku attorney, filed objections opposing the department's request for an exemption on behalf of two men, one from the Big Island and one from Maui.

Hayashida says he was unaware of ethics conflict

by Pat Omandam 15 October 1999 in The Star-Bulletin
DOT Director says he was unaware ofethics conflict. A state contract awarded to t Belt Collins that employs his wife was deemed a conflict.

State Transportation Director Kazu Hayashida was not aware he was committing an ethics violation when he awarded two contracts to the civil engineering company that employs his wife.

Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said today Hayashida thought a conflict of interest would only apply if his wife, who is a salaried employee at Belt Collins, was a stockholder, partner or owner of the company. She is not.

Engineering firms sued in Kaloko dam failure

By Diana Leone on 16 March 2008 in The Honolulu Advertiser
Two O'ahu engineering firms are being sued in connection with the March 14, 2006, failure of the Kaloko dam on Kaua'i.

Belt Collins, which has an office in Honolulu as well as in other U.S. and foreign cities, and Hirata & Associates Inc., which is based in 'Aiea, are named as defendants in civil suits filed in Kaua'i's 5th District Court on Tuesday.

The lawsuits say that the consulting firms, which were employed by Jimmy Pflueger for work on his Kaua'i property that includes Kaloko dam, "failed to take appropriate actions to correct a 1997 grading violation — including removal of material that covered the spillway, and/or notifying the county of the precise area filled in 1997, including the spillway."

The suits say the consultants' actions were "negligent or grossly negligent."





POSTED: 19 MARCH 2008 - 7:00am HST

Can I Get a Witness?

image above:om Mitrano of Belt Collins, the state's consultant for an EIS , gave instructions to people
at a meeting at Farrington High School on Ohau. Photo by Richard Walker

by Jonathan Jay on 19 March 2008

Superferry EIS Hearings

KCC, Performing Arts Center

2 Sessions: Wed, March 19th, 2-5pm & 6-9pm.

To protect and defend the Garden Island

This will be a "Scoping Meeting' meaning this is how the scope of the EIS study will be.

EVERY impact concern we express, they MUST investigate.
Lets show them what we have in our scope.
Start your scope of impact list now - be creative!
try to think of an impact no one else will.
Twice now we have repulsed their bum-rush for Kaua`i.
Now their ship sits sick in dry dock, maybe forevers.
AMEN! Mahalo Keakua!

Lets show them how healthy, vigorous & grounded our opposition is.


Superferry Storm Carries On
by Léo Azambuja on 18 March 2008 in The Molokai Dispatch

The Superferry controversy has generated a lot of turmoil in Hawaii. After months sailing against a sea of legal and technical problems, the vessel remains dry-docked since Feb. 13, with plans to return to operations April 22.
The Alakai, which translates to potbellied or leader, depending on where the okina is placed, is a controversy in itself. After spending $40 million in harbor repairs and $180 million on loan guarantees to the Superferry, the State Government does not have much to show for it.

Adding to tax-payers’ losses, the Department of Transit (DOT) recently announced a new Harbors Modernization Plan. The DOT’s plan will cover six harbors statewide, will last six years, and is budgeted at $842 million, which will come from the Harbors Special Fund. Four of those harbors will go through special renovations to accommodate the Superferry.

A special Legislature session in late 2007 decided the State has to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will add yet another $1 million in tax payers’ expenses.

Opponents of the Herculean twin-hulled ferry have organized several protests against the company, and have even put themselves on harm’s way, by blocking the boat from entering Nawiliwili Harbor on its second voyage to Kauai.
Superferry opponents on Maui and on Kauai fear that the boat’s operations will bring irreversible environmental damages and traffic chaos to their islands.

As much as environmental and social impacts lurk beneath the surface, such as humpback whale collisions, drug trafficking, invasive species propagation, and traffic jams, Oahu’s large population gives the Superferry a positive outcome in statewide surveys. Neighbor Islands’ surveys have yet to be conducted, but large groups of residents there have showed strong opposition to the Superferry.

Just about eight months ago, Governor Linda Lingle appointed Michael Formby as the DOT Deputy Director, overseeing the harbors’ division. Formby inherited probably the biggest controversy the DOT had to face in recent years.
Just days before the Superferry’s maiden voyage, the Hawaii Supreme Court halted the ferry’s operations by mandating an Environmental Assessment (EA) to be conducted.

The DOT hired Belt Collins Hawaii, Ltd. to prepare an EIS. Lesley Matsumoto, director of environmental consulting at Belt Collins, said the normal course of action would have required an EA before an EIS. But the DOT is now obliged to conduct an EIS because lawmakers decided it during the special Legislature session in late 2007.

Matsumoto explained an EA evaluates general impacts on the environment. If the government decides there are significant impacts, “then the next level is the EIS.”

Matsumoto said the Superferry will continue to operate while the EIS is being prepared. The after-the-fact EIS will evaluate the environmental consequences of the Superferry operations and its secondary impacts. She said the findings will not stop the ferry; instead, the EIS may include additional restrictions on the company’s operations.

When the Supreme Court decision temporarily halted the ferry’s operation last year, Senator Kalani English said he supported the decision. "The EIS was required under the law," he said. "It's been my position all along."

Formby does not agree. According to him, no law had been broken when former DOT Deputy Director Barry Fukunaga gave the Superferry an EA waiver.

“That’s the way business was done,” Formby said, explaining that the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) used to put certain items on a list of approved exemptions. The Superferry, an alternative inter-island transportation sought by the Cayetano and Lingle administrations, was on that list.
“If you put yourself in Barry Fukunaga’s place, the OEQC’s place, at the time they made those decisions, they’ll tell you they made the right decision,” Formby said.

However, times have changed. “Obviously the Supreme Court doesn’t think it was a good decision,” Formby said.

“Any time you get a landmark decision at the Supreme Court, it changes the way things are done,” Formby said. “The way we do things now is different than the way we did things before the Superferry.”

Even insisting Fukunaga’s actions were lawful, Formby agreed that the company should not have been exempted from an EA.

“For the community it’s for the better,” Formby said. “Now we’re looking at long term effects, secondary impacts.”

Formby wasn’t too sympathetic to Kauai’s Superferry opponents. In 2005, the company hosted informational meetings on Kauai. “Maybe 20 people showed up,” Formby said.

Formby, who says he has not seen any Kauai poll showing majority opposition to the ferry, called opponents a “vocal minority.” Despite saying they have good arguments, Formby believes the community has “to balance the pros and the cons.”

“If there was a terrorist incident at the Kauai Airport, people all of a sudden would fall in love with the Superferry,” Formby said. However, after Hurricane Iniki, in 1992, there was no Superferry, and the community did just fine.
Many places on Kauai lost access for days and electricity for weeks. The community helped out each other, and received overwhelming support from government agencies and the military.

Formby blamed Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) for overcrowding Kauai’s roads with as much as 400 rental cars every time it docked at Nawiliwili Harbor.
“I think for the people of Kauai it will be very interesting to see what happens now that NCL has pulled one vessel out and is pulling a second vessel out,” Formby said. The impact of 100-150 cars the Superferry will transport daily to Kauai is a “very small piece of the puzzle” if compared with the business formerly generated by NCL, Formby said.

If NCL decides to put back its ships on Hawaiian waters, it would have to re-flag the ships, re-fit them, and ask for Congress approval. The chances of it happening are slim, according to Formby.

The Superferry may not come to Molokai, but its impact here cannot be underestimated.

“It can potentially have impacts on the island and on the residents of the island because it’s transiting the coastal waters,” Formby said. If necessary, the boat can go through the Penguin Banks “if goes at the right speed, in the right time of the season.”

Despite rumors of a proposed dredging in the harbor at Kaunakakai Wharf, Formby assured that the DOT has no plans to do so.

“I’m not aware of any maintenance schedule for Kaunakakai, and we definitely don’t have any new dredging plans for Kaunakakai,” Formby said.

A dredging would only be approved after several environmental studies, a design phase, and finally a lengthy construction phase. “There are definitely no plans for larger vessels to come in,” he said. “If we started today, it would be about 15 years before we finished it, that’s how long it takes; it’s a very long process.”

EIS public meetings
The DOT initiated a series of statewide meetings to gather community input on the EIS currently being prepared by Belt Collins Hawaii Ltd. The island of Molokai was the DOT’s first stopover.

About 30 community members showed up last week Tuesday at Kaunakakai Elementary School to tell Matsumoto and the DOT staff some of the impacts the ferry may have on the Molokai.

Most testifiers were concerned about how the EIS would protect whales and seals from colliding with the vessel. Humpback whales and Hawaiian monk seals are protected by strict federal laws, and some residents do not believe the Superferry is able to avoid hitting them.

Resident Ruth Manu said Young Brothers, in order to accommodate the Superferry schedule in Kahului Harbor, Maui, has changed its scheduled trips to Molokai. The cargo shipper now comes to Molokai two days in a row every week, instead of spacing the trips. As a result, fresh produce availability on Molokai’s grocery store shelves has been compromised.

A series of posters showed potential impacts the Superferry may have in Hawaii. Resident Cheryl Richards wanted to know why the social-economics poster was empty. “If I’m paying the bill, I want to know why the money isn’t coming to our schools,” she said. “I’m paying the taxes and I want to know what the business plan is.”

Richards said she felt the EIS was a “cart-and-pony show.”

The meeting was organized solely to hear comments from the community. DOT officials and Belt Collins associates were not allowed to answer community concerns, which frustrated many testifiers.

“Next time you come, you give us our answers, that’s pono, that’s Hawaiian style,” Manu said.

A recorder kept track of community input, which will be included in the preparation of the EIS.

On March 14 the DOT held two meetings at Farrington High School, on Oahu, drawing only 12 people.

On March 17 the DOT carried two meetings on Maui, and on March 19 it carried two meetings on Kauai. At the time of press, there was no information on those meetings.




POSTED: 15 MARCH 2008 - 10:30am HST

Oahu Superferry EIS Meeting:
Kauai can do better than that.

by Jonathan Jay on 15 March 2008

Lets see if tiny Kaua`i with less than 1/12th the population of Oahu, can get 12 TIMES MORE people to this meeting than Oahu mustered.Oahu had only 12 participants in two public sessions.


Informational Meeting conducted by HI DOT on Superferry EIS


Two meetings held on Wednesday 19 March 2008
One from from 2:00pm. to 5:00pm.
and another from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.


at the Kaua'i Community College Performing Arts Center.


2 HSF meetings draw 12 people on Oahu
by Leila Fujimori on 15 March 2008 in The Star Bulletin

Only a dozen people attended the two Oahu informational meetings on the Hawaii Superferry's environmental impact statement yesterday.

"Neighbor island residents are much more aware than they are on Oahu" of harbor activities, said Mike Formby, deputy director of the state Harbors Division. "They are aware of when passenger ships are in, cargo ships are in, when milk's arriving. They seem to have a general awareness and consciousness."

Formby also said recreational activities are permitted in neighbor island harbors but not in Honolulu Harbor.

The state, required to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Hawaii Superferry, is holding meetings on six islands to provide information about the process.

The EIS will address, among other things, three proposed new berths to accommodate a second vessel: one each in Honolulu Harbor, Kahului Harbor on Maui and Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island.

Nuuanu resident Lovey Lung, 45, hoped to learn why the Superferry's vessel was damaged and whether the company is financially viable since it suspended operations due to weather and repairs. She fears it might ask the Legislature for more money to finance its operation. "As taxpayers are we going to pay for it?"
A hunter said he hoped the Superferry will sail to all the neighbor islands so he could transport his truck and dogs. A condo dweller from the harbor area complained of noise.

Thirty people attended a March 4 meeting on Molokai, to where the Superferry has no plans to sail, compared with yesterday's four at the 2 p.m. session and eight at the 6 p.m. meeting at Farrington High School's large auditorium.
The Superferry suspended operations several times since starting service in December. It is undergoing repairs to damage to its hull, Formby said.
EIS meetings are set for Monday at Maui's Baldwin High School Auditorium, 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m.; and Wednesday at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center, 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m.





POSTED: 4 MARCH 2008 - 8:00am HST

Hawaii Superferry EIS finally begins

image above: Traffic lined up at Superferry from

HI DOT HSF EIS Meetings on Kaua'i


Informational Meeting conducted by HI DOT on Superferry EIS


Two meetings held on Wednesday 19 March 2008
One from from 2:00pm. to 5:00pm.
and another from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

at the Kaua'i Community College Performing Arts Center.

by Rachel Gehrlein on 29 February 2008 in The Garden Island News

Informational public meetings on the Superferry's Environmental Impact Statement conducted by the Hawai'i state Department of Transportation for the Hawai'i Superferry are under way.

"The meetings are intended to give the public an opportunity to give their input," said Mike Formby, DOT Harbors Division chief. "It's an opportunity to engage the community."Formby said there will be two meetings, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Scott Ishikawa, DOT spokesman, said the EIS will address the secondary impacts, such as whales and other endangered species, that could be affected by the Superferry.

Under Act 2, the law that passed in the Legislature last year, the Superferry is allowed to run provided certain conditions are met while the environmental study is being done.

The conditions include operating restrictions during what some call a truncated account of whale season, as the act cites it as January through April, though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has included the whale season months of November and December.

According to the Division of Land and Natural Resources, up to 10,000 humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters every year from November through May.

The act was passed out of a special session called by Gov. Linda Lingle following Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza's ruling that the ferry couldn't sail during its court-ordered Environmental Impact Study.

Belt Collins, the firm hired by the state and awarded a $1 million contract to complete the EIS on the Superferry, is supposed to report its findings to the DOT.
"Right now, Belt Collins is looking for subcontractors and gathering experts to conduct studies," Formby said. "In a year-long process, we are about two months in."

The Superferry is required to avoid the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary within 100 fathoms or less during those months.

"This project has brought mixed opinion," Ishikawa said. "This meeting would be the proper venue for those to voice their opinion."

Although the Superferry does not service the entire state, meetings will be on the Big Island, Kaua'i, Lana'i and Moloka'i.

"We want to know their feelings," Formby said.



POSTED: 12 FEBRUARY 2008 - 8:30am HST

Feared environmental plundering occured

image above: Hawaiian opihi on the grill. A delicacy today almost extinct on Ohau.

[Editor's Note: It was anticipated that a significant allure of the Superferry would be to allow illegal drive-on drive-off violations of natural resource plundering of the neighbor islands. The record for early operations of the Superferry bears out the fears many had. Remember, on the first day of Maui service three truck loads of imu pit river rocks were detained at Kahului Harbor, bound for Oahu. The article below identifies dozens of cases of violatiions including the discovery of buckets of opihi, tree limbs, sand etc, in vehilces bound for Oahu. Needless to say, the reports only account for those violators who were caught, and no citations were issued. With the ferry running at only a third of capacity, we can only expect worse to come.]

Ferry screeners effective early on
by Christie Wilson on 11 February 2008 in The Honolulu Advertiser

During Hawaii Superferry's first weeks of operation, passenger and vehicle screenings intercepted coolers of 'opihi and other marine resources, fishing nets, dozens of dead honeybees and an uncertified shipment of 50 orchid plants, according to an oversight task force report.

A total of 39 rules infractions were discovered from December 13th to January 6th, all but five caught by screeners at Kahului Harbor.

In their Jan. 31 report to the Legislature, members of the Hawaii Inter-Island Large Capacity Ferry Vessel Oversight Task Force said the interceptions show "the inspection process, to date, is effectively screening and removing banned items."

The screeners employed by Superferry are being monitored by personnel from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Although officials with those agencies said they have developed a positive working relationship with the company, they also wonder whether the effort can be sustained.

"Right now they're enthusiastic, they're doing a good job, they're asking the right questions, and they're interacting with our staff. Whether they can sustain that, I don't know," said Domingo Cravalho Jr., Compliance Section chief with the Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Branch.

"But like anything else, if they're mandated to do it, I'm sure they will follow the rules."

Terry O'Halloran, director of business development for Hawaii Superferry, said the two state agencies have been a "great resource" for the company and have "provided a lot of training to our staff."

He said ferry employees have "embraced" the screening process and that they will continue to do an effective job in the absence of state monitoring. Screeners take pride in uncovering contraband and making sure passengers and vehicles comply with the rules, O'Halloran said.

"Our staff are people who live in our Islands. They live on Maui and they live on O'ahu and they are as concerned about protecting our environment as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Land and Natural Resources are," he said.

The ferry completed a total of 21 roundtrips between O'ahu and Maui during the reporting period of Dec. 13 to Jan. 6, the report said. The ferry did not operate from Dec. 26 through Dec. 29 because of rough seas.

The average load on the O'ahu-to-Maui leg was 167 people and 53 vehicles, and 157 people and 47 vehicles on the Maui-to-O'ahu leg, according to the report.

The 350-foot catamaran can carry 866 people and 282 cars.

The rules infractions discovered by screeners checking outbound passengers at the Honolulu ferry terminal include the orchid shipment, various seeds that also lacked agricultural certification, and two fishing nets, the report said.

The Maui infractions included 13 instances in which vehicles were found to be excessively muddy; a lavender plant and two coconut plants without certification; a fishing net; two cases in which vehicles contained rocks, soil, sand, dirt or coral; two instances in which 'opihi, lobster or other crustaceans were discovered; and three cases of passengers attempting to transport cut logs, trees or tree limbs.

Randy Awo, DLNR's conservation and resource enforcement chief on Maui, said several Ziploc bags of legal-sized 'opihi were confiscated from a cooler whose owner said he was ignorant of the restrictions. There were several other cases since the reporting period in which Superferry passengers tried to take ogo, an edible seaweed, and other marine resources aboard the vessel, he said.
Although the various contraband violated the ferry's operating rules, not all involved violations of state conservation or agricultural laws, officials said.
No citations were issued, they said.

The passenger and vehicle screenings also turned up more than 100 dead honeybees or bee parts in engine compartments, on grilles or elsewhere in vehicles, but the dreaded varroa mite was not detected in any of the bugs, Cravalho said.

The mite is a threat to the state's multimillion-dollar honey, queen bee and pollination industry and is an invasive species priority.

The spread of invasive species and depletion of natural and subsistence resources were among the issues raised by groups that won a court decision last year halting the new high-speed interisland ferry pending an environmental assessment by the state Department of Transportation.

The ferry oversight task force was established when Gov. Linda Lingle and the Legislature approved a law known as Act 2 that allowed the Superferry to operate while the assessment is conducted.

A related executive order signed Nov. 4 by Lingle established more than 40 operating conditions and protocols for the ferry while the environmental review is under way.

Many of the conditions mirror existing restrictions imposed on interisland shippers and airlines, such as those prohibiting interisland transportation of soil and plants without an agricultural inspection certificate.

But others are more restrictive. These include interior, trunk and under-the-hood inspections of vehicles, bans on transporting fishing nets, 'opihi, lobster and other crustaceans, and posting of lookouts to help avoid collisions with humpback whales.

O'Halloran said the operating conditions "are very doable and we're getting better at it as we get more practice."

So far, state monitoring of screenings has been provided on a month-to-month basis, but there is a sense among many task force members that it should continue indefinitely, Cravalho said.

He said he observed screenings at the Honolulu ferry terminal where teams of two to three ferry employees handle each vehicle, confirming bookings and vehicle registration and examining vehicles' engine compartments, trunks and interiors, and coolers and other containers.

A single Department of Agriculture inspector each is posted at the Honolulu and Maui ferry terminals to ensure Superferry is following the requirements set out in Act 2 and the governor's executive order, he said.

With only one roundtrip daily, the ferry monitoring "has not been too much of a burden" for the department, which has been able to adjust work schedules to provide staff, he said.

"We've been able to accommodate them," Cravalho said.

On the company side, "the Superferry is doing what is expected under the executive order, but whether they can sustain that type of screening process remains to be seen," he said.

DLNR is providing "periodic" monitoring at the Honolulu ferry terminal, according to Gary Moniz, chief of the agency's Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement. He said ferry workers have been "very attentive and helpful."

At Kahului Harbor, where the majority of the infractions have been found, a total of three conservation enforcement personnel are present daily to assist with screenings, out of a total Maui staff of 16, Awo said.

"We felt it was necessary for now to get the system up and running. We wanted to be able to assist the Superferry on the ground and help them understand what to look for and what the process is. We've had good working relationship with them," he said.

Awo said the rule infractions that have been recorded show what could occur when people begin using a new mode of transportation without adequate restrictions and monitoring.

"Just the mere presence of having (the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement) on scene and working with the Department of Agriculture has been good. The message has been sent and it's worked out well," he said.
But he agrees with Cravalho that sustaining a thorough screening process in the months and years to come may be difficult.

The oversight task force recommended in its report that the Legislature approve funding for additional state inspectors to monitor ferry operations.

No Charges in Maui River Rock Case
The state has yet to move forward with charges against three men who came to Maui in August on the Hawaii Superferry allegedly to load their pickup trucks with river rocks and return to O'ahu.

The Maui office of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement completed its investigation in October. DLNR officials on Friday referred questions about the status of the case to the Department of the Attorney General, which did not respond to a request by The Advertiser for comment.

The suspects came to Maui when the new interisland ferry service launched Aug. 26. However, a court order suspended ferry service Aug. 27 and the trio was stranded on Maui.

Their three pickup trucks were discovered parked at the ferry pier at Kahului Harbor filled with more than 900 large rocks of the sort used in imu, or cooking pits, according to DLNR officials.

A witness reported seeing the trucks haul away the coconut-sized rocks from Paukukalo, a five-minute drive from the harbor. Officials said there is no evidence the rock caper was masterminded by ferry opponents in an attempt to expose potential environmental impacts of the new interisland service, as some ferry supporters have alleged.

The three trucks remain in DLNR possession pending completion of the case.
The three men are suspected of violating DLNR rules that allow gathering or collecting "small quantities of pebbles or small rocks by hand for personal use," with the limit set at 1 gallon per person per day. The penalty for violating the law is a maximum fine of $500.

see also:
Island Breath: HSF dry docked
Island Breath: HSF Rudder Mess
Island Breath: January HSF News
Island Breath: HSF night trips
Island Breath: HSF military trips
Island Breath: HSF EIS Smoking Gun
Island Breath: HSF two trips