The U.S. Coast Guard plans to designate an area for protesters on Kauai so they won't get in the way of the Hawaii Superferry when it resumes service to Nawiliwili Harbor.
The Coast Guard hasn't said when it will be prepared to secure the area so the Superferry can run again, or how large the area for demonstrations will be.
The Hawaii Superferry called off voyages to Kauai after protesters aboard surfboards, canoes and kayaks stopped it from docking Aug. 27, despite the efforts of the Coast Guard.
"The Coast Guard, local, state and other federal authorities share a common goal of ensuring the safety and security of our ports, the vessels that call and all the people who use them," said Capt. Vince Atkins, commander of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.
"We support the rights of citizens to conduct safe, peaceful and legal protests, and the Coast Guard is working with our partners throughout Hawaii to address security issues related to the Superferry's next voyage," Atkins said.
The area for protesters, roughly between Kalapaki Beach and Kukii Point, will allow people who choose to demonstrate to do so safely, peacefully and legally, and will allow the Superferry and its passengers to safely use the port, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard also designated an area of Nawiliwili Harbor to be an off-limits security zone that is to be maintained while the ferry, Alakai, is in port. The move is in addition to a previously announced moveable security zone that extends 100 yards out from the vessel that can carry more than 800 passengers and 200 vehicles.
Niumalu Canoe Club member Keala Wann called the Coast Guard's plan "ridiculous," saying many canoe clubs use the harbor for practice in the evening — the same time the Superferry is scheduled to arrive and depart.
Those who fail to comply with orders pertaining to security zones, injure or threaten an enforcement officer or attempt to interfere with vessels may be punished by imprisonment of up to 10 years and may be fined up to $25,000, it said.
Any vessel used to violate a security zone, including surfboards, kayaks and canoes, may be immediately confiscated and forfeited, the service said.
The ferry's Honolulu-Kauai and Honolulu-Maui service began Aug. 26.
The following day, Maui Circuit Judge Joseph E. Cardoza issued a temporary restraining order at the behest of environmental groups to prevent the ferry from using Kahului Harbor because of a dispute over whether the ferry may operate while the company conducts an environmental assessment.
In other legal action, the environmental group 1,000 Friends of Kauai and an individual, Rich Hoeppner of People for the Preservation of Kauai, filed suit in Circuit Court on Tuesday.
They're seeking a restraining order to prevent the $95 million, 350-foot vessel from using Nawiliwili Harbor until the environmental assessment is completed.
Meanwhile, about 60 Superferry employees staged their own demonstration Tuesday in Honolulu, waving signs at motorists passing the state Supreme Court building on South King Street.
The signs had various messages, including "Save Our Jobs" and "Honk For Hawaii Superferry."
"We're trying to thank people and ask them to continue supporting us," said Julie Loo, who works in the Superferry's finance department. "Obviously there's a lot of support for the Superferry and we're trying to raise awareness for the support."
Hawaii Superferry said won't lay off any of its 300 workers for as long as possible.
But the company said in news release Tuesday that "their jobs may be in jeopardy should the state courts, DOT (state Department of Transportation) and the U.S. Coast Guard not allow the Alakai to resume interisland service between Maui, Oahu and Kauai."
Cardoza issued the restraining order after the state Supreme Court ruled the state should have required an environmental assessment for the Superferry before service began.
The company said it won't resume service to Kauai at least through Friday.