The Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association and the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots will hold the "Hawai'i Interisland Ferry Conference" on Monday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Pier 19 Ferry Facility in Honolulu.
"We are pleased to announce the first conference exploring both the pros and cons of Hawai'i's interisland ferry systems, past present and future," said Oakland Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association Patrolman Christian Yuhas, who was a chief engineer on the former Hawai'i Superferry. "Let's start the discussion."
Speakers will include Hawai'i governor and lieutenant governor candidates, experts in the maritime and ferry industries, as well environmentalists, surfers and citizens.
Talk Story-Talk Ferry
Input Sought for First Interisland Ferry Conference
"We believe that as an island state it is amazing that no interisland ferry system exists," said Yuhas. "There are several smaller ferries that serve some of the smaller islands, but an interisland ferry system has never really existed, although, as we know with Sea-Flight and the Superferry, attempts were made in the past. The U.S. has many successful ferry systems in operation, but the 50th state has been left out."
Yuhas said he witnessed first-hand benefits the Hawai'i Superferry provided to small business, tourists and locals alike.
"I also saw many of the negatives, such as skipping the EIS [environmental impact statement], seasickness and concerns about hitting whales," said Yuhas. "But with interisland air fares at their current level, it's very hard for businesses and people to move interisland. There are many relevant concerns to any such system, and the Superferry saga was not an ideal model for the islands."
Yuhas said the conference has been set up to encourage the debate regarding ferries in Hawai'i.
"There have been many undertones of both pro and con since the last attempt, and by hosting a conference on the topic, we can reduce some of the stigma and get the debate out in the open," he said. "As it's an election year, this is a rare opportunity to find out what the next governor and lieutenant governor think about ferries. We have decided to focus on the debate about the future of ferries in Hawai'i, and we think everyone on all islands should have an opinion on this, as it affects everyone.
"By inviting everyone in Hawai'i to participate, even people in far reaching islands they can have their two cents heard," said Yuhas.
Hawai'i residents are invited to submit their comments to email@example.com by Sept. 22. The comments will be published and be made available for review at the conference.
"We are working on having a live radio station and public access cable covering the event," said Yuhas.
The event is open to the public and will include free food and drinks, live music and exhibitors
"The event is coming together well and we are looking forward to it," concluded Yuhas.
For more information, call local event coordinators Randy Swindell at (808) 523-8183 or Luke Kaili at (808) 533-1910.