Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) recently introduced a bill to require that all baggage and cargo transporting into Hawai’i by air or sea be inspected for invasive species and high-risk agricultural materials.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard ((HI-02), entitled the Hawai’i Invasive Species Protection Act, co-introduced the measure.
“We must act now because invasive species pose an especially grave and accelerating threat to Hawai’i ,” Case said in a press release.
“Isolated Hawai’i has one of the highest numbers and rate of endemic species anywhere and invasive species have wreaked havoc on our natural environment.”
Case noted that 28 bird, 72 snail, 74 insect, and 97 plant species have gone extinct over the last 200 years “in large part” because of invasive species.
Since 2005, over 190 invasive species have been introduced in Hawaiʻi, “and they have triggered not only widespread environmental but economic damage as well,” Case added.
According to Case, Hawaiʻiʻs “unique circumstances” have produced one of the nationʻs “most diverse agricultural communities.”
The congressman says invasive species have impacted agriculture in Hawaiʻi and threatens some of the islandʻs most valuable crops in the stateʻs third-largest industry.
“Yet despite these incontrovertible and growing impacts of external species on Hawai’i’s natural resources and economy, existing federal law leaves Hawaii largely defenseless against increasingly destructive invasives. Imports by air and sea, the only means of in-bound transportation to our island state, lack any effective regulation to screen out invasives. This is despite a fairly robust screening of exports from Hawai’i to the Continental United States to screen out invasives from Hawai’i viewed as harmful to mainland agriculture – invasives that, ironically, were invasives
into Hawai’i to start with,” Case concluded.