Invasive Species Control

By 2030, implement Hawai‘i Biosecurity Plan to address priority invasive species.

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 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.

Biosecurity is the set of measures taken to manage risk associated with invasive species that could negatively impact the environment, economy, and health of communities. The Biosecurity Plan describes 147 actions designed to meet a 2027 vision of a sustainable, biosecure Hawai‘i. Within the first year of implementing the Biosecurity Plan, agencies initiated 43 internal actions to strengthen Hawaiʻi’s pre-border, border, and post-border biosecurity. Of 47 legislative actions, 10 were introduced in the 2017 session with three passing into law. By 2027, this plan hopes to have made significant progress for the future sustainability of Hawai‘i.

Hawaiʻi Biosecurity Plan
Biosecurity is the set of measures taken to manage risk associated with invasive species that could negatively impact the environment, economy, and health of communities. The Biosecurity Plan describes 147 actions designed to meet a 2027 vision of a sustainable, biosecure Hawai‘i. Within the first year of implementing the Biosecurity Plan, agencies initiated 43 internal actions to strengthen Hawaiʻi’s pre-border, border, and post-border biosecurity. Of 47 legislative actions, 10 were introduced in the 2017 session with 3 passing into law. By 2027, this plan hopes to have made significant progress for the future sustainability of Hawai‘i.
Implementation Strategies
The Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan (HIBP) addresses Hawaii’s most critical biosecurity gaps and provides a coordinated, inter-agency path to a more secure future. This Plan recommends policy actions, process actions, and resource actions to achieve biosecurity in Hawaii. Successful implementation of the Plan will require the assistance of different types of collaborators and a comprehensive approach which includes pre-border, border, and post-border security, as well as public awareness.
(picture source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Pre-Border Biosecurity
A timeline displayed within the Hawaiʻi Biosecurity Plan outlines the trajectory for internal agency actions for the next decade to keep pace with their targeted goals. Currently, 43% of inter-agency actions are in progress or toward completion including process changes, no-cost projects, and administrative rules. While 21% of legislative actions passed or are introduced in support of biosecurity.
Pre-Border policies and processes are implemented to prevent invasive species from making their way to Hawai‘i. These include inspections, risk assessments, and pre-ship treatment of potentially invasive plant species like Christmas trees. The timeline below (Figure 1), highlights progress on both internal agency and pre-border legislative actions. Currently, 58% of pre-border biosecurity actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 33% of legislation has passed in support of strengthen pre-border biosecurity.
Figure 1: 18 months into the implementation timeline, 58% of preborder agency actions have been initiated and 33% of legislative actions have been adopted (Source: Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Highlights include:
  • 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 ecommerce vendors to incorporate Hawaii 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.
Remaining preborder needs by 2027 include:
  • 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)
Border Biosecurity
Border policies and processes support inspecting incoming items to ensure minimal risk of pest entry into the state. Through public-private partnerships with DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA), data from inspections can be collected and can help respond to invasive species like mosquitoes and rat lung worm disease. Some pilot programs utilize dogs to help detect species and respond accordingly. However, increased funding must be established to continue to monitor and respond to invasive species threats. HIBP recommends 90 new positions be created to meet current inspection volumes, and biologists that can be hired to inspect water and biofueling across the state. The timeline below (Figure 2) highlights progress made from both the internal agency and legislation in response to the arrival of invasive species. Currently, 72% of border biosecurity actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 13% of legislation has passed and an additional 13% has been introduced in support of strengthen border biosecurity.
Figure 2: 18 months into the implementation timeline, 72% of border agency actions have been initiated and 13% of legislative actions have been adopted (Source: Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Highlights include:
  • 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)
 Remaining border needs by 2027 include:
  • 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)
Post-border Biosecurity
Post-border policies and processes support detecting and responding to new incursions of invasive species and controlling established invasive species wherever possible. These security measures also apply to inter-island transport of these species throughout Hawaii. Sectors such as DLNR, UH Invasive Species Committee, and the Hawai‘i Ant Lab work continuously to detect and respond to invasive species threats statewide. The timeline (Figure 3) indicates the progress made on internal and legislative actions Hawai‘i has progress on thus far. Currently, 38% of post-border biosecurity actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 10% of legislation has been adopted to strengthen border biosecurity.
Figure 3: 18 months into the implementation timeline, 38% of post-border agency actions have been initiated and 10% of legislative actions have been adopted (Source: Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Highlights include:
  • DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources has joined an international evaluation process that could lead to safe in-water vessel cleaning tools being implemented in Hawaii 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 Hawaii Ant Lab. (PosPro1.5)
  • The Hawaii Department of Agriculture made permanent a rule to prohibit the movement of soil and ohia products from Hawaii 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.
Remaining postborder needs by 2027 include:
  • 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)
Public Awareness
An engaged supportive community is critical to address Hawaiʻi’s biosecurity concerns. Enhancing awareness and building public engagement for a comprehensive biosecurity program are essential to gaining the support of the general public, policymakers, and industry for the program. As an additional benefit, an educated and engaged community would assist with detecting and reporting on invasive species, helping to prevent their spread and establishment. Early detection and notification is the key to successful eradication. Inspectors and control staff will not always be in the right place at the right moment to achieve early detection. Having a community that is watchful and knowledgeable about how to report their detection is extremely valuable. The timeline below (Figure 4) highlights progress made from both the internal agency and legislation in response to the arrival of invasive species. Currently, 56% of public awareness actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 0% of legislation has been introduced in support of strengthen public awareness.
Figure 4: 18 months into the implementation timeline, 56% of outreach agency actions have been initiated. Neither of the two legislative actions has been introduced yet. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Highlights include:
  • 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 Hawaii (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 Hawaii residents consider invasive species a serious problem, and 75% support doubling the portion of the state budget that goes toward biosecurity agencies. (PwsPro3.3)
Remaining outreach needs by 2027 include:
  • 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.

Funding

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 Hawaii from invasive species threats.

Figure 8. Annual funding necessary to implement projects contrasted with funding awarded. (Source: Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC))

Learn More and Make a Difference

What You Can Do
  1. Report invasive species online at http://reportapest.org/ or call 643-PEST (808-643-7378), mobile application available for download for both iOS and Android phone users.
2. Report dead birds to 211 or www.gotdeadbird.org
3. Keep pets contained and do not release (e.g. cats)
4. Read Oahu Invasive Species Committee’s “What You Can Do to Help Stop the Silent Invasion ” - http://www.oahuisc.org/what-you-can-do/
5. Learn about the types of invasive species present in Hawaiʻi through these invasive species profiles: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/invasive-species-profiles/
6. Don’t dump aquarium pets or plants. HDOA has an amnesty program where you can take unwanted pests free of charge and without any penalties. http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/pq/amnesty-program-2/
7. Don’t plant a pest. Choose native or non-invasive plants for your yard. Check out http://plantpono.org/.
8. Don’t pack a pest.
9. Don’t sell or buy a pest. Unsure if something is invasive. Check out https://sites.google.com/site/weedriskassessment/home to get information on plants.
10. Keep pets contained (e.g. cats).
11. Submit testimony in support of Biosecurity Action Items.
More Information
  1. Learn more about the Hawaii Invasive Species Council- http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/
  2. The Invasive Species Committees are great resources for getting involved and learning more about addressing invasive species issues-
  3. To see the list of species that the Hawaii Invasive Species Council has directed funding for prevention, control, and/or research for visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/species/all/
  4. HISC brown bag series videos:  http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/category/brownbag/

Little Fire Ants photo credit: Hawaii Invasive Species Council

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