Interisland residents hope to broker peace over use of resources

A confrontation that turned ugly in waters off Molokai is now in the hands of the Maui Prosecutor.

The incident happened in May and came to light in a story you only saw on KHON2 News. According to the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the fight involved residents from Molokai and divers from Honolulu.

The confrontation stems from a long-running dispute between some on Molokai and so-called “outsiders.”

As the state hands over its investigation, the immediate concern for the department is to head off any possible confrontations during two popular canoe races that will soon launch off of Molokai.

“We turned over our investigation to the Coast Guard, and I believe they made a decision that they are not going to pursue it since the Maui Prosecutor’s office is taking a look at it,” said DLNR director William Aila.

As KHON2 News earlier reported, Aila said that in this reported incident, someone from Honolulu was either shoved or fell overboard, and equipment was damaged.

The long-running dispute involves some on Molokai who regard outsiders as taking advantage of the island’s resources, whether on land or on the water.

But now there is a more immediate concern. The state is looking to head off any possible confrontations at two of the world’s premier long-distance canoe races, next week’s Na Wahine o Ke Kai, and October’s Molokai Ho’e.

“We’ve continued to meet with the folks on Molokai,” Aila said, “and we’ve continued to meet with the race officials with the upcoming Molokai Ho’e, both women’s and men’s races, to try to get people to understand each other’s point of view.”

Eddie Perreira of Oahu has fished for nearly 30 years and he makes sure he contacts people on Molokai before heading out to the island with his rod and reel.

“Talk with people,” he said. “You cannot go in there bullying. Don’t just go, because expect to get into run-ins with people from the island.”

“It appears tempers are cooled down for now,” Aila said, “but we will have to wait and see.”

The DLNR has been working with residents on Molokai on a community-based plan that would protect, preserve and better manage the island’s resources, both on land and on the water.

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