A dozen surfing protesters blocked the Hawaii Superferry from docking on Kauai island as the first-ever passenger ferry service between the Hawaiian islands tried to complete the second voyage of its inaugural day.
Loaded with people paying a discount fare of just $5 US, the $95-million Hawaii Superferry completed its maiden run earlier Sunday with a rushed launch for a three-hour voyage from Honolulu to Maui. It was making a second trip, from Honolulu to Lihue, Kauai, when it was stopped by the water-borne protesters who paddled out to within a few metres of the ship off Kauai.
The four-deck, double-hulled Alakai carrying 500 passengers and 150 cars turned back from the Lihue harbour to the cheers of several hundred protesters beating drums and shouting Hawaiian chants along a seawall, witnesses said. They were protesting the ferry’s failure to obtain an environmental impact report before launching. Sunday’s rushed voyages from Oahu to Maui and Kauai were moved up two days with radically discounted $5 fares after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled last week the state should have required an environmental report and ferry opponents said they’d go to court to stop the service. Critics fear the twice-daily runs will run over whales, spread invasive species and pollute waters.