Case and Tokuda introduce measure to combat invasive species in Hawaiʻi
US Representatives from Hawaiʻi, Congressman Ed Case and Congresswoman Jill Tokuda, introduced the Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Protection Act, a bill to require that baggage and cargo transporting into the State of Hawaiʻi by air or sea be pre-inspected for invasive species and high-risk agricultural materials, in the same manner as similar baggage and cargo transported to the US mainland must be inspected pre-departure.
“Invasive species pose an especially grave threat to Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystems, natural resources, and agricultural communities, in part due to Hawaiʻi’s unique geography,” said Rep. Ed Case. “Hawaiʻi is the most isolated island chain and one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world.
“However, tragically, in large part due to invasive species, Hawaiʻi has become the endangered species and extinction capital of the world. The Pacific Islands are home to 44% of the threatened and endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act, and Hawaiʻi currently has 468 species listed as endangered, more than any other state and almost half of the total endangered species nationwide.”
Case said many of these species are critically endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. “Although we will never know the true number of species that have gone extinct in Hawaiʻi, in 2021 alone nine Hawaiian species were declared extinct,” he said.
Rep. Jill Tokuda said Hawaiʻi is “losing the war against invasive pests and diseases,” and said, “farmers and producers are paying the price.”
“Every year more invasive pests and diseases enter and establish themselves in our state, and there are fewer resources for control and management. It’s hard enough to put food on our tables and shelves, and these threats to agriculture further threaten food security in Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tokuda.
“This bill is a needed first step to turn the tide on invasives by providing federal resources to prevent invasive species from even reaching Hawai‘i. I look forward to continuing to fight for increased biosecurity in Hawai‘i in the 2023 Farm Bill,” Rep. Tokuda said.
The Hawai‘i Invasive Species Protection Act, will require the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service, in cooperation with other federal departments and the State of Hawaiʻi, to conduct visual, x-ray and canine inspections, as appropriate, on person, baggage, cargo and any other article destined for direct movement to the State of Hawaiʻi.
According to Rep. Case, the inspections will search for high-risk invasive species and agricultural materials. The inspections will be conducted at airports, ports, and postal sorting facilities prior to direct travel to the State of Hawaiʻi.
“Our bill further requires APHIS to work with the State of Hawaiʻi to develop and publish a list of the high-risk invasive species and agricultural materials for the State of Hawaiʻi. It pays for these inspections by increasing Agriculture Quarantine Inspection fees to cover the full cost of inspection,” said Rep. Case.