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 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.
The timeline below (Figure 1) 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.
Figure 1. The timeline for advancing internal agency actions by the year 2027. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
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.
Figures 2 & 3: Hawaii Biosecurity measures and threats (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
Pre-Border 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 4), highlights progress on both internal agency and pre-border legislative actions. Currently, 38% of pre-border biosecurity actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 11% of legislation has passed in support of strengthen pre-border biosecurity.
Figure 4. The timeline above highlights the pre-border biosecurity progress to prevent entry of invasive species across Hawai‘i. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
 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 5) highlights progress made from both the internal agency and legislation in response to the arrival of invasive species. Currently, 60% 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 5. The timeline of border biosecurity legislative and internal agency actions that denotes progress in response to the arrival of invasive species. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
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 4) indicates the progress made on internal and legislative actions Hawai‘i has progress on thus far. Currently, 27% of post-border biosecurity actions are in progress or toward completion from internal agencies, while 24% of legislation has been introduced in support of strengthen border biosecurity.
Figure 6. The timeline above highlights the progress made on post-border biosecurity legislative and internal action across Hawai‘i. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).
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 7) highlights progress made from both the internal agency and legislation in response to the arrival of invasive species. Currently, 48% 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 7. The timeline above highlights the progress made on public awareness internal and legislative actions across Hawai‘i. (Source: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC)).


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 or call 643-PEST (808-643-7378)
  2. Read Oahu Invasive Species Committee’s “What You Can Do to Help Stop the Silent Invasion ” -
  3. Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week-

More Information

  1. Learn more about the Hawaii Invasive Species Council-
  2. The Invasive Species Committees are great resources for getting involved and learning more about addressing invasive species issues-
         Big Island Invasive Species Committee
         Oahu Invasive Species Committee
         Kauai Invasive Species Committee
         Maui Invasive Species Committee
         Molokai Invasive Species Committee
  3. To see the list of species that the Hawaii Invasive Species Council has directed funding for prevention, control, and/or research for visit:

Little Fire Ants photo credit: Hawaii Invasive Species Council

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Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development