Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Musings: Ferries and Farms

The sky was a mosaic of clouds — gray, white, black, charcoal, pink, orange, blue — when Koko and I went walking this morning. The lightest rain accompanied our return in the golden light of sunrise, which burst forth and then quickly faded into the paleness of a cloudy day.

It was not unlike yesterday’s sunset, which I witnessed from John Wooten’s farm in Moloaa. With his wife away, another woman and I helped him pick veggies for today’s farmer’s market. I buy produce from the Wootens each week, but never really had a sense of what was required to harvest, much less grow, my order.

As Moira and I picked bouquets of parsley, basil and kale, we remarked on how many people just John’s small farm could feed. I marveled that he could coax these beautiful, healthy veggies from the bright red soil, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

And then I thought of the many landless Hawaiians I know who are looking for a place to farm and the marvelous dark loamy fields near Mana — much of it “ceded land” seized from the Kingdom — where big corporations are growing GMO seed corn and other transgenic crops using chemical ag techniques.

To borrow a line from Sudden Rush song: “Are we supposed to be happy with the situation?”

I sent a friend who keeps bees in Illinois a copy of an article on a possible link between bee deaths and GMOs. She wrote back:

The biggest issue bees seem to have around here, aside from the two mites (which are treatable) is starvation. Here we are in the breadbasket of agriculture and bees starve. Hmmmmm. Queens are also not as hardy as they used to be, and they did show the chemical build up in the honeycomb is more than they suspected. They are a barometer of what is going on....... I also read an article that bats are in trouble too. Sigh.

It’s pretty simple. No pollinators, no crops. And as the bumper sticker on John’s truck says: “No farms, no food.”

So if you get the chance, hug a farmer today, and tell a bee mahalo.

In other news, a rumor was circulating yesterday that the Superferry, which apparently passed its Coast Guard inspection on Monday, was headed for Kauai, causing quite a stir until Keone Keaaloha aptly fingered it as an April Fools joke. Still, was remarkable to see how quickly folks could mobilize.

Meanwhile, Dan Hempey guys have filed an appeal of Judge Randal Valenciano’s Sept. 6 ruling, which denied a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the boat from running without an EIS, and nixed use of "presumptions of irreparable harm" in their arguments against the boat’s operations.

It’s interesting how the situation has changed in the past six month. As the Garden Island notes:

Hawaii Superferry had claimed it would face financial strain if forced to stop operations while completing the EA.

Since then, we’ve observed that the Superferry is experiencing fnancial strain even while operating — if it’s extended down time in dry dock and sidelining during big surf could be called that.

The article goes on to report:

The 1,000 Friends of Kaua‘i brief states that “the court should protect the public and enforce (the Hawaiian Environmental Protection Act), even against violators who can show that they cleverly approved a statewide project in severable subparts, or who may lose a lot of money if the environmental laws are applied to them.”

Yup, that's pretty much the crux of the situation. Brad Parsons has posted some interesting tidbits gleaned from the Superferry oversight task force report, including:

Kauila Clark missed 3rd out of 4 meetings. Only 8 round trips for February.
Average passenger load from Oahu to Maui of 115 per one-way trip.
Average vehicle load from Oahu to Maui of 40 per one-way trip.
Average passenger load from Maui to Oahu of 87 per one-way trip.
Average vehicle load from Maui to Oahu of 39 per one-way trip.


Anonymous said...

kinda curious why the appeals, both on kauai and maui have taken so long to file? any insight?

Joan Conrow said...

I'm not sure about Maui, but the Kauai attorneys have had to fit the 1000 Friends appeal, which they're doing largely pro bono, in among their regular work load of paying clients, so it's taken longer to pull it together.

Larry said...

We don't know what conversations go on behind closed Superferry doors. Maybe all this was just treading water until, somewhat predictably (for us, in hindsight, for them, maybe foresight) something cracked in the airline situation.

It would be odd if the ferry didn't benefit from the shortage of seats.

Without waves, and if it avoids hitting anything, passengers might contrast the experience favorably with air travel. All the ferry would have to do is add hula dancing or telescopes for whale watching, or maybe some disco, decent hamburgers or cultural lectures, and it could really take off. It could.

Andy Parx said...

I don’t know Larry- I can’t imagine that. as Hawaiian and go pick up the slack in the next few days. there will be no airplane tickets available interisland. So why would anyone take the ferry instead? I haven’t read of anyone who can’t get to a neighbor island even now after only a few days.

Yes it would make sense that the genius’ at HSf would THINK the sales are going to pick up now that Aloha is gone but then again based on their track record you can almost assume that any marketing decision they make will be wrong and blow up in their faces. Other than a few tourists who think they can save money by combining their ocean whale-watching cruise with a ticket to Maui and those shipping their cars anyway it doesn’t makes sense for anyone to take the ferry.

I wonder how many cars on average were shipped per day before the ferry and how many are now, including the numbers from both the barge and ferry.

Mauibrad said...

Wow, those are some good marketing ideas, Larry. I have often thought that they could have done this competently. But still this thing has twice the engine power and burns 1/3 to 1/2 too much fuel in its business model to be able to take advantage of the same fuel problem that Aloha had. HSF will try to convey itself as an alternative to the airlines, but in time that will fail because of the propulsion design and extra 35 miles or 1 hour too long of a trip to justify in their income statement. They are destined to fail is just a matter of time. But, the government contract between Oahu and the Big Island, that is another thing, and presumably they think Act. 2 will cover that too. Aloha, Brad