Lawmakers renew fight against invasive species threat

KHON - January 13, 2015
Web Staff

Lawmakers met Tuesday to get an update on invasive species threats across the state.

Among the current threats: Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles, Little Fire Ants and coqui frogs.

Experts say these species have replaced development and human alteration as the biggest threats to Hawaii’s ecosystem.

“The greatest threats today are invasive plants and animals and diseases that are coming in and impacting our native systems, impacting our agriculture, impacting our quality of life that we experience here in Hawaii,” said Mark Fox, director of external affairs, The Nature Conservancy. “We’re in trouble if we don’t figure out how to start getting ahead of this curve.”

Lawmakers say the fight against invasive species continues to be a top priority, and information from Tuesday’s briefing allows them to identify what preventative and offensive measures are in place and what more can be done.

“I’m putting forth legislation that would direct additional funding to the Department of (Agriculture) for $2 million and also to (Hawaii Invasive Species Council) $6 million in both the next two fiscal years,” said ENE chair Sen. Mike Gabbard (D-Kapolei, Makakilo, Waipahu).

The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment and House Committee on Energy and Environment Protection heard from state departments and organizations in charge of programs related to prevention, control, research and outreach.