WAILUKU » Some Molokai residents are hailing four arrested fishermen as heroes for protecting their island’s resources from outsiders.
Four Molokai men pleaded not guilty Thursday in a Maui courtroom to allegedly boarding a vessel in May and threatening the people on board, a group of divers from Oahu.
Nearly 50 people filled the courtroom in support of the fishermen, the Maui News reported.
"This happening is a great way to highlight that people have been coming from different islands to Molokai to rape, pillage and raid our resources for the longest time," Hanohano Naehu said after the arraignment. "For us on Molokai, these four individuals are heroes. All they were doing was protecting the resources for our families, for our communities, for our island."
Naehu is a Molokai representative for the Aha Moku Advisory Committee, which assists the state Department of Land and Natural Resources with ocean resource management.
The men allegedly boarded the boat in waters off East Molokai, and an altercation took place in which fishing equipment was damaged, officials said.
Maui police and the state Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement arrested the four men Nov. 24. Their vessel was seized as evidence and taken to Maui.
The state said the men are charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and unauthorized first-degree entry into a motor vessel. They’re also charged with first-degree terroristic threatening and harassment. They’re free on $50,000 bail.
A jury trial is scheduled for March.