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Yacht to Continue Molokai Visits, For Now

American Safari Cruises (ASC) is resuming scheduled two-day stops to Molokai later this month after company officials, local protesters and state and federal authorities reached an agreement. The 36-passenger yacht temporarily ceased docking on Molokai in early December after residents raised concerns about local protocol not being followed in allowing the boat to add Molokai to its Hawaii itinerary.

“We are grateful to the wonderful people of Molokai for their true aloha spirit. We hold tremendous respect for their unwavering desire to preserve their traditional lifestyle for future generations,” said Dan Blanchard, ASC CEO.

Local activist Walter Ritte, who led protests against ASC docking, said the agreement was reached because by the next scheduled visit this month, the community will have had time to discuss the yacht’s stop. By Jan. 17, a series of island-wide public meetings will have been held by the `Aha Ki`ole, a resource management group that has acted as a neutral advisory body on the island.

“It was fear that first started the problem,” said Kamalu Poepoe, a Molokai `Aha Ki`ole leader at the Kawela moku meeting, held last Wednesday. She said business people were afraid to bring the proposal to the community for discussion, and it was fear of losing control over local resources that raised concern in the community.

After working with state and federal authorities and local groups, an amicable agreement has been reached to allow the yacht unimpeded visits to the island on its seven-day adventure cruises,” according to a December ASC statement. The yacht will return to its regularly scheduled two-day visits Jan. 21-22, 2012.

“There is room for businesses, but we have a responsibility and commitment to each other… that we are going to do this wisely,” Poepoe said.

“We asked [ASC] to hold off until we could talk it out in the community,” said local activist Walter Ritte, who led protests against the yacht’s stop. “That was always been our position.”

He said he and other residents were “forced to protest because [ASC] wouldn’t stop coming.”

Ritte said the public mana`o gathered at the meetings still has to be compiled and discussed before an ultimate resolution can be reached, which may take up to two additional months. In the meantime, the yacht can continue to make Molokai stops, he said.

“It’s up in the air whether [ASC will be allowed to] continue but it’s almost guaranteed that some conditions will be placed on it,” Ritte added.

Residents who attended last week’s moku meeting were invited to write suggestions on post-it notes within general categories such as land use, ocean, tourism and cruise ships. Their mana`o will be compiled and added to Maui County’s Molokai Community Plan, which is in the process of being updated.

Moku leaders within the `Aha Ki`ole are holding two additional meetings in the coming weeks: Pala`au moku on Wednesday, Jan 11 at the Lanikeha Center and Kaluako`i moku on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Maunaloa Center.


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