Invasive Species Control
Invasive species cause billions in economic losses each year. Invasive species
are an alien species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic
or environmental harm or harm to human health (President Clinton Exec. Order
13112). Invasive species include plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, and
pathogens. Damages from Miconia, for example, are estimated at $672 million annually and potential damages from the invasive Brown Tree Snake are estimated at $2.14 billion annually (HISC Legislative Report, 2016). Invasive species also cause significant harm to Hawaiʻi’s natural resources through destruction of coral reefs, threatening native plants, and decreasing the reliability of freshwater resources. Multiple native endangered plants in Hawaiʻi (Visit Native Species) are threatened by invasive species. Agricultural productivity, cultural resources, and human health are also at risk. The arrival of a single pregnant Anopheles mosquito could bring Malaria to Hawaiʻi.
Preventing invasive species from entering our communities and ecosystems will require a coordinated statewide effort. The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA) manages pre-border and border invasive species risk in Hawaiʻi. Post-border response is a shared responsibility of HDOA, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Health (DOH), University of Hawaiʻi, and other agencies, depending on the circumstances. These agencies sit on the Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC), an inter-departmental collaboration, that tracks and facilitates invasive species work in Hawaiʻi. More resources are needed for these agencies to effectively protect Hawaiʻi from the overwhelming threat of invasive species. In coordination with stakeholders, HDOA and partners from other HISC agencies, developed a Hawaiʻi Statewide Biosecurity Plan for 2017-2027 that consists of comprehensive statewide strategies to address pre-border, border, and post-border biosecurity needs.
Hawaiʻi Biosecurity Plan
- HDOA has accelerated work on its electronic manifest system for tracking commodities and prioritizing inspections based on past interception data. They expect the software to be completed by the end of the year. (PrePro1.1)
- HDOA is working with e-commerce vendors to incorporate Hawaiʻi import restrictions into their shipping policies. (PrePro3.1)
- A new CGAPS legal fellow is looking into rules that could restrict certain high-risk plants from entering the state, and finding ways to restrict Myrtaceae imports in order to limit risk of ohia rust (PrePol3.1, BorPol2.2)
- Funds provided or approved by the legislature supported developments on the e-manifest system and biosecurity databases.
- Amending admin rules to require phytosanitary certificates for high-risk plant imports (PrePol2.2)
- At HDOA Plant Quarantine, hiring three entomologists, two plant pathologists, and two botanists to conduct ongoing pathway risk assessments (PreTifs2.2)
- At DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, hiring two biologists to conduct ballast & biofouling risk assessments (PreTifs2.5)
- Legislative funding was requested but not provided in 2018 for an enhanced import substitution program. (PreTifs2.4)
- The Clift Tsuji Act of 2017 provided the authority for HDOA to enter into public-private partnerships to utilize 3rd party inspection facilities. HDOA is developing standards for 3rdparty facilities through a pilot program.
- DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources initiated development of a database to house data collected from ballast water reports and, eventually, biofouling inspections (BorPro2.3)
- DOH Vector Control Branch has been fully restored to its capacity prior to the 2009 Reduction in Force. The new Vector Control Branch is actively building programs for mosquito surveillance and response and is engaging in research relating to rat lungworm disease. (BorTifs1.5)
- HDOA Plant Quarantine Branch has reinstated their detector dog program and currently has three canine handler teams for inspections. (BorPro1.1)
- Establish a biosecurity emergency response fund. Bills introduced in 2017 and 2018 but not yet approved. (BorPol1.3)
- Double the staff at HDOA Plant Quarantine Branch to meet current inspection volume, roughly 90 new positions (BorTifs1.1)
- Hire five aquatic biologists to inspect and regulate ballast water and biofouling statewide (BorTifs3.1)
- DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources has joined an international evaluation process that could lead to safe in-water vessel cleaning tools being implemented in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere in the US. (PosPro4.5)
- Initial discussions are underway to increase programmatic stability at UH for the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, which administers important gap-filling projects such as the Invasive Species Committees and Hawaiʻi Ant Lab. (PosPro1.5)
- The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture made permanent a rule to prohibit the movement of soil and ohia products from Hawaiʻi Island, to minimize risk of spreading the Ceratocystis pathogen that causes rapid ohia death (PosPol1.3)
- The legislature provided funding for a number of important postborder biosecurity issues, including: planning funds to develop a new HDOA Biocontrol Research Facility ($180k in 2018), a large boost in 2018 to watershed fencing funding, and stable funding for the HISC, now part of the recurring base budget.
- Increase funding and stability for Watershed Partnerships and Invasive Species Committees (PosPro3.3)
- Construct new biocontrol research facilities at the HDOA Plant Pest Control Branch, following the production of a development plan produced with funds provided in 2018 (PosTifs2.1)
- At UH CTAHR, hire four agricultural diagnosticians for insect & disease response (PosTifs1.14)
- At HDOA Plant Pest Control Branch, hire 20 positions to meet current control needs (PosTifs1.2)
- At DLNR DOFAW, hire 45 invasive species techs statewide to protect natural areas. Requested in 2018 but not yet approved. (PosTifs1.10)
- HDOA Plant Industry Division has new signs and videos at Honolulu Airport relating to biosecurity, focusing on proper use of amnesty bins on entry to Hawaiʻi (PwsTifs1.4)
- HISC and HDOA launched a new pest reporting tool for public use in 2017. Joining the existing 643-PEST telephone hotline are the new 643pest.org website and 643-PEST mobile app, available on iOS and Android. Now users can alert the state of invasive species sightings from anywhere and can upload photos and map points to aid response. (PwsPro3.5)
- A 2017 public awareness survey by the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species found that over 80% of Hawaiʻi residents consider invasive species a serious problem, and 75% support doubling the portion of the state budget that goes toward biosecurity agencies. (PwsPro3.3)
- Promote a certified nurseries program to help consumers find certified growers (PwsPro1.5)
- Expand the “Buy Local” campaign at HDOA to include messaging about biosecurity and the reduced invasive species risk associated with supporting local agriculture.
In addition to expanding the civil service programs within each agency, there is a need for research and inter-agency project funding supported by the HISC. Since 2015, the need for funding inter-agency invasive species control projects has increased more than the amount of funding awarded to implement the work. As of January 2018, 8 million dollars in project fiscal needs remain unfunded (see Figure 2). Additional funding is necessary to adequately protect Hawaiʻi from invasive species threats.
Figure 8. Annual funding
necessary to implement projects contrasted with funding awarded. (Source:
Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC))
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Little Fire Ants Photo Credit: Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council