There is a proposal to close the Ala Wai Canal from the Ala Moana Boulevard Bridge to the Kalakaua Avenue Bridge during the IUCN World Conservation Congress, Sept. 1-10.

The security matter will be considered at a meeting of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources June 9.

“Numerous law enforcement agencies, led by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement have requested the closure as an imperative safety measure to ensure the safety of the public and an expected 8,000-10,000 attendees of the conference,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a press release Thursday.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Thomas Friel said, “This event will generate worldwide media attention and numerous heads of state, ministerial and cabinet level officials and other dignitaries are expected to attend.”

The closure is necessary for these reasons, says DLNR:

  • To maintain an area that provides for standoff distance where any safety and security threat in the vicinity of the canal near the Hawaii Convention Center can be detected and dealt with away from the Convention Center.
  • To maintain surveillance and control of the Ala Moana and Kalakaua Avenue bridges, the bridges closest to the Hawaii Convention Center. The bridges provide crucial transportation routes that the public and attendees will use to access the convention center and area hotels.

During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference held in Honolulu in November 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard established security zones that included the entire Ala Wai Canal.

Buildings along the Ala Wai Canal on August 21, 2014
The Ala Wai Canal. PF Bentley/Civil Beat

“It is not yet known whether security requirements will require the establishment of security zones that include the Ala Wai Canal waters, under federal authority,” says DLNR. “Consequently, DLNR is requesting to close a portion of the canal waters under the Board’s authority to meet the security requirements of the IUCN-WCC meeting.”

DOCARE and State Harbor Police will be responsible for the physical closure of the canal “and will use vessels and floating booms to accomplish the task.”

“While we appreciate this will be a temporary inconvenience for canal users like canoe clubs, we hope everyone understands it is important to do everything possible to make sure, when the world’s conservation leaders are focusing on Hawaii, they do so under the umbrella of the utmost safety and security,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. 

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