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Invasive Species

Strengthening Pest Prevention Systems

Hawai'i is the primary shipping link between the U.S. mainland, Asia and other Pacific ports, and Honolulu International is one of the busiest airports in the world. Inevitably, cargo shipments, passenger flights, military transports, mail and other traffic entering Hawai'i brings with them living plants, animals and microbes that would have been unable to reach the islands on their own.

Many plants and animals which pose little threat in the temperate climates of the U.S. mainland are severe threats in Hawaii's tropical environment. For this reason, federal regulations currently provide inadequate protection against many of the pest species of concern to Hawai'i.

Efforts to enhance international trade have raised further concerns, as Hawai'i laws are pre-empted by federal trade agreements to allow import of known pests despite formal objections by Hawaiian authorities. Hawaii's special vulnerability must be recognized by federal agencies, both to protect our islands and to reduce the risk of pests reaching the mainland after infesting Hawai'i.

The Conservancy is engaged in implementing far-reaching public policy to reduce the influx of invasive species into Hawai‘i. Together with our Congressional delegation and state legislature, we are working to coordinate and strengthen Hawaii’s pest prevention systems.

Activities include:

  • Changing federal law to enable preemptive legislation for more restrictive cargo quarantine protocols that would allow Hawai‘i to better protect itself from overseas introductions of new pests.
  • Ensuring adequate, stable funding and appropriate rules to support ongoing multi-agency efforts to address invasive species infestations statewide.

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