Press Releases

Legislature to hold biosecurity briefing


For immediate release
Friday, January 17, 2020
House Contact: Carolyn Tanaka
Office: 808-586-6133 Cell: 808-381-7752
Senate Contact: Jesse Broder Van Dyke
Office: 808-586-6261

Honolulu – The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment, Chaired by Senator Mike Gabbard, the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, Chaired by Representative Nicole E. Lowen, and the House Committee on Agriculture, Chaired by Representative Richard P. Creagan, will hold a joint informational briefing to get an update on Hawai‘i's Interagency Biosecurity Plan.

The briefing will take place on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. in Hawai‘i State Capitol conference room 229. The Department of Agriculture will be setting up tables outside the hearing with live invasive species specimens.

The hearing will be televised live on ‘Olelo channel 49, and will be aired via tape delay on the neighbor islands. The hearing can also be watched live online at

Link to the Biosecurity Plan:

Presentations will be made by:

* Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council
* Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Division of Aquatic Resources
* Department of Agriculture
* Department of Health, Vector Control Branch
* University of Hawai‘i, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
* Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Office of Planning
* Department of Transportation


The Senate Committee on Agriculture & Environment, along with the House Committees on Agriculture and Energy & Environmental Protection, will receive a multi-agency briefing on the Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan.

Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Environment

House Committee on Agriculture

House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection
Update on the Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan
Friday, January 25, 2019

9:30 a.m.
Conference Room 309, State Capitol

415 South Beretania Street

The State of Hawai‘i released the Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan for 2017–2027 on January 10, 2017. This Plan is the state's first interagency, coordinated comprehensive plan to tackle the threats and harms from invasive species.

Presentations will be made by:

Hawaii Invasive Species Council

Department of Agriculture

Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Division of

Aquatic Resources

Department of Health, Vector Control Branch

University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Office of Planning

Department of Transportation

The Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Branch will provide examples of invasive species at the briefing.

For more information:

Senator Mike Gabbard and Representative Nicole Lowen reintroduce bills to protect Hawaii's sharks and rays

January 18, 2019

Senator Mike Gabbard (Kapolei, Makakilo, portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa, Waipahu), Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, and Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau), Chair of the House Environmental Protection and Energy Committee, have introduced companion measures in their respective chambers that will offer greater protections to Hawaii’s sharks and rays.

The proposals would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly capture, take, possess, abuse, or entangle any shark or ray, whether alive or dead, or kill any shark or ray, within state marine waters. The law would provide exceptions, including those for research, cultural practices and the protection of public safety. Penalties would range from $500 for a first offense to $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

While Hawai‘i continues to have the strongest anti-finning law, passed in 2010, which also prohibits the possession of fins, there is no law that explicitly prohibits the intentional killing, capture, abuse or entanglement of sharks or rays.

"As apex predators, sharks and rays help to keep the ocean ecosystem in balance, and protecting them from unnecessary harm is essential to the health of our coral reefs. I'm hopeful that this year will be the year that we are able to take this important step." Said Representative Nicole Lowen.

"Sharks (mano) and Rays (hihimanu) are key marine species, important to the resliency of our oceans. They deserve full protection under law from unnecessary killing or exploitation" said Senator Mike Gabbard.

The recent sighting of "Deep Blue", the largest known Great White shark (mano niuhi), off O‘ahu, is a hopeful sign that this may be the year that Hawai‘i's sharks and rays earn protection from intentional killing.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 2079, passed the Senate unanimously last year with broad public support, including OHA and DLNR, but stalled in the House. This year’s bills await introduction and assignment of new bill numbers.



Richard Rapoza
(808) 392-0780
Michi Moore
(808) 586-7148

Senator Mike Gabbard
(808) 586-6830
Representative Nicole Lowen
(808) 586-8400

Senator Mike Gabbard Joins Legislators from Seven Other States to Announce Coordinated Effort to Block Offshore Drilling

NEWS RELEASE –for immediate release
January 8, 2019

Senate Contact: Senator Mike Gabbard 808-586-6830

Honolulu, HI – Honolulu, HI - Today, Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, joined legislators from seven other states in a united effort to protect our coasts from offshore drilling. In March, after the release of the Trump Administration’s Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, over 225 legislators from coastal states raised their voices in opposition. Now, these states are taking action by introducing legislation that would limit any new offshore drilling capabilities off their coasts.

States included Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

Senator Gabbard said, "I realize that we won't be the first on banning offshore drilling for fossil fuels, as 5 states have already beat us to the punch. At this point we don't have proven petroleum or natural gas reserves or production, but it’s still important that we join with other states and lead on this important issue. I'm partnering with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and will introduce a bill later this month to ban offshore drilling for oil or natural gas in state marine waters. I'm hopeful that our combined legislation efforts will send a message to our current President that it's time to transition away from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy!"

Legislators understand that an oil spill anywhere is an oil spill everywhere, impacting not just their constituents but everyone who depends on their coasts for income and recreation. Offshore drilling means more greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the effects of climate change on their communities.

States are taking action regulating drilling activities and infrastructure within state waters. Coastal tourism, fisheries, shipping, and defense are the underpinning of all U.S. coastal states’ economies. Expanding offshore drilling is a risk these states cannot afford to take.

New Jersey became the first state to ban offshore drilling within state waters last year, followed shortly by actions in Delaware, Maryland, California, and Florida. In 2019, a growing majority of coastal states have continued standing up to protect their coasts.

“These state legislators are committed to protecting the coastlines of the United States, and the safety and livelihood of their constituents,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “They understand the economic and environmental importance of our coasts and are standing together against this proposal.”



NEWS RELEASE –for immediate release
December 20, 2018

Senate Contact: Senator Mike Gabbard 808-586-6830


Honolulu, HI – President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law today, which included removal of industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance List, thus legalizing it and paving the way for a successful hemp industry in Hawai’i.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, said "It's been a long time coming since Governor, Ben Cayetano, declared December 14, 1999 as 'Industrial Hemp Day of Hawai‘i.' Since that time, I've authored four hemp bills that have become law, including Act 228 (2016), which established a 5-year industrial hemp pilot program. Today, there are farmers growing hemp statewide under the pilot program and the potential benefits that this amazing plant offers for our economy, sustainable agriculture, environment, and human health are truly incredible."
"My vision has been for a cottage hemp industry using Hawai‘i branding, with the hula girl underneath the coconut tree and the guy strumming his ‘ukulele... Hāna hemp granola - Hanalei hemp toothpaste - Honolulu hemp aloha shirts - and Hawai‘i Island hemp CBD tincture, are just some of the many products that could be coming our way."

The signing of the 2018 Farm Bill signals a great leap forward for our state and nation in realizing the benefits of keeping an estimated annual $820 million in retail value of hemp products that we can be growing and producing here.



Tuesday, October 17, 2018
Press Office: x (808) 768-5001


Honolulu City Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine will be holding a Makakilo-Kapolei Town Hall meeting, in collaboration with Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard on Thursday, October 18 at Island Pacific Academy's Multi-purpose room in Kapolei starting at 6:30pm.
The public is invited to the get together for informative community and legislative updates, participate in a question and answer session for both Pine and Gabbard. There will also be special presentations by Shirley Swinney of HCDA and by Steve Kelly of James Campbell Company who will be giving updates to their community projects.

There will be light refreshments available starting at 6pm. Island Pacific Academy is located at 909 Haumea St. in Kapolei.
For more information, email Councilmember Pine at

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West Oahu Energy and Electric Vehicle Fair

NEWS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
October 12, 2018

Senate Contact: Sen. Jon Yoshimura 808-586-6360
Sen. Mike Gabbard 808-586-6830
Sen. Glenn Wakai 808-586-8585

Senate Media Contact: Michele Moore 808-586-7148


Learn about new options for residential solar, energy conservation, Hawaiian Electric Company’s West Loch Solar One Project, and popular Electric Vehicles


Saturday, October 13, 2018
10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
ʻEwa Makai Middle School
91-6291 Kapolei Parkway
ʻEwa Beach, Hawaiʻi 96706

On October 13, Senator Jon Yoshimura, Senator Mike Gabbard and Senator Glenn Wakai, will hold a West O'ahu Energy and EV Fair at 'Ewa Makai Middle School from 10:00am – 1:00pm. The event will feature an update on new Public Utilities Commission rules for residential solar, an opportunity to learn about ways to generate your own clean energy and how to conserve it, and electric vehicle displays from BMW, Nissan, and Tesla.

The state has a goal of producing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. This informative session will shed light on policies that will help to achieve those goals, while giving residents the opportunity to learn about ways in which they can be part of this clean energy future.

"As an advocate of a clean energy future, I am working with community and industry stakeholders to develop more clean energy alternatives that will reduce our dependence on imported oil. Hawai'i's economy, environment, and quality of life is intricately tied to our ability to produce clean and affordable energy," said Sen. Yoshimura.

The event is free and the public is highly encouraged to attend.



July 6, 2018

HONOLULU – The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has issued the first licenses to growers under the State’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. During the month of June 2018, three industrial hemp licenses were issued to:

Name County # of Acres
Gail Baber Hawaii 10
Raymond Maki Kauai 10
Thomas Pace Hawaii 10

Each license is valid for two years, as long as the licensee complies with the program rules, including submission of annual fees of $250, plus a $2 per acre assessment. The time from planting to harvest is estimated to be anywhere from three to six months.

“Hawai‘i’s first licensed hemp growers will help to demonstrate the real potential of the industrial hemp industry,” said Gov. David Ige. “We look forward to the entrepreneurial spirit that will help to invigorate and strengthen agriculture across the state.”

“With this new agricultural crop, the program aims to monitor and assess the best methods of cultivation in Hawaii’s growing conditions,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “The program will also follow the crop from seed to the development, manufacturing and marketing of hemp products.”

“June 2018 will be remembered as a historic month for Hawai`i’s farmers. In the coming years, it’s likely we’ll see our state become a leader in industrial hemp production and witness a cottage industry being developed around this incredible crop. Mahalo to the Governor and HDOA for helping get us to this point,” said State Senator Mike Gabbard.

A total of 10 applications have been received by HDOA’s Quality Assurance Branch since the program began in April 2018. HDOA will continue to process applications and issue licenses to qualified applicants on a quarterly basis.

Growers will be required to submit extensive reports on planting, harvesting and movement of their industrial hemp crop. In addition, the research nature of the pilot program requires that licensees track items such as production costs including pest management, water usage, security measures, labor, marketing and other cost factors. Routine sampling, testing (for THC and pesticides) and inspections of crops will also be mandatory during this program.

In granting licenses, HDOA considers the following factors:

Completeness of applications
Licensed to do business in Hawaii
Agriculturally zoned land
Legitimate Research Plan
Best management plan for growing of hemp
A laboratory provisionally certified or certified by the Hawaii Department of Health to test cannabis and is willing to collect samples from the growing location.
Application Fee ($500 non-refundable)
The 11-page application for the program is available on the HDOA website at:


In July 2016, Gov. Ige signed Act 228 and in July 2017 signed Act 199 (amendment), which established the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. HDOA then established the rules for the program which were approved by the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture in September 2017, and signed by Gov. Ige in September 2017.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both members of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. However, industrial hemp refers to cannabis plants with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration at or below 0.3 percent, which is about 33 percent lower than the least potent marijuana. Although industrial hemp and marijuana may look the same, it is not possible to get a chemical high from industrial hemp.

Some of the challenges that HDOA in establishing the program included the importation of hemp seed which is considered by the federal government as a Schedule 1 Drug, which is highly regulated especially when transporting within and into the U.S. HDOA worked with federal and state drug enforcement agencies to successfully import the hemp seed varietal, Yuma, from China which will be used by the licensed growers. Based upon its own research and tests in Malawi and Australia, HDOA believes that the Yuma varietal is suitable to grow in Hawaii’s climate.

There are about 38 states that allow or are proposing to allow industrial hemp cultivation.

Questions about the program may be sent to: or call (808) 832-0676.


Honolulu, HI (July 3, 2018) – A bill that takes steps to protect the island’s precious marine environment and ecosystems against chemicals found in many sunscreens was signed into law today, making Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to ban the sale of all sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. It's also a first-in-the-world law.

Senate Bill 2571, now Act 104, bans the sale of oxybenzone and octinoxate starting January 1, 2021. This excludes certain prescription sunscreen products intended for use as a cosmetic for the face. The delayed effective date allows for reformulation of sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone or octinoxate, but are also effective in preventing skin cancer.

Calling the new law “a gold standard for the world to follow,” Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 20 - Kapolei, Makakilo, portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and Waipahu), said “this is a historic bill for our oceans. By taking the lead on banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens, we’ve started a tidal wave which will help bring our coral reefs back to life. I hope we can look back 20 years from now and see this as a moment we turned the corner on pollution and witnessed this law being replicated globally.” Sen. Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment, introduced the bill.

Scientific studies have shown that oxybenzone and octinoxate induce coral bleaching, harm and kill coral larvae by creating gross deformities, and act as an endocrine disrupter. The chemicals have also been linked to negatively impacting the reproductive health in both men and women.

Senator Mike Gabbard's Floor Remarks on SB 2571 SD2 HD2 CD1 (Oxybenzone/Octinoxate Sunscreen Ban)

May 1, 2018 - Mr. President, I rise in strong support of SB 2571 SD2 HD2 CD1. Colleagues, this legislation is a big step forward for the protection of our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.

When it goes into effect on January 1, 2021, it will be the first law passed not only in this country, but in the entire world, to ban sunscreens that contain the dangerous chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. For the record, Mexico has taken administrative action to ban the use of sunscreens with these chemicals in their nature preserves.

But this measure, will be the first law. Scientific evidence indicates that these chemicals induce coral bleaching, harm and kill coral larvae by creating gross deformities, and act as an endocrine disrupter.

As it relates to human health, these chemicals are linked to causing breast cancer to become more aggressive, polluting breast milk, causing Hirschsprung Deformity in newborns, are associated with women's uterine diseases, threaten male sexual health, and can damage DNA.

There's evidence that oxybenzone is even showing up in our aquifers and drinking water. Worldwide, 50% of our coral reefs were lost in 2014 and 2015 because of coral bleaching. The main factor that has contributed to the decline of our coral reefs is localized pollution, such as sewage, pesticide runoff, and chemical sunscreens.

How much sunscreen are we talking about? According to US National Park Service, more than 6 thousand tons of sunscreen end up in Hawaiian waters every year. The Department of Land and Natural Resources has reported that 55 gallons. That's right, 55 gallons, of sunscreen are going into our nearshore waters each day on Maui. So, with this volume of chemical sunscreens pouring into our oceans in areas like Kapalua and Hanauma Bays, of course our reefs are going to have next to no chance of recovery.

The fact is: SB 2571 was inspired by the science! And my hat is off to Dr. Robert Richmond of UH, Dr. Ruth Gates of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, and Dr. Craig Downs of the Haereticus Environmental Lab for providing us the facts to help us make an informed and educated decision.

It's encouraging to know that our tourist industry is stepping up, with companies such as Hawaiian Airlines, Aqua-Aston, Sheraton, Outrigger, Kaanapali Resort, and Napili Resorts are all doing their part to provide reef friendly sunscreens to their guests.

For the record, reef-friendly sunscreens refer to those that have been scientifically proven to be safe in our environment and contain active ingredients such as non-nano size titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

As I mentioned, Dr. Craig Downs, a forensic eco-toxicologist has been one of our principal scientific experts in crafting this legislation. He informed us that he'll be excited to now allow his 6-year-old daughter, Evelyn, to swim in Kapalua and Hanauma Bays and outdoor swimming pools in our state once this ban takes effect.

Think about that for a moment...the scientist who has shown us the high concentration of oxybenzone in Hanauma Bay, thinks it's too dangerous for his daughter to get in the water there! Much has been said about whether there will be enough alternatives to sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. However, even the mainstream names of sunscreens already offer alternatives.

Not to mention eco-friendly ones, like Raw Elements, All Good, Babo Botanicals, Badger, Goddess Garden, Happy As Larry, Hawaii Medicinals, Kuleana Sun Production, Little Hands Hawaii, Mama Kuleana, Manda Naturals, Raw Love, and Sole Kine Maui that are on store shelves. And Little Hands Hawai‘i is actually making their sunscreen here!

SB 2571 is a good first step in keeping oxybenzone or octinoxate out of our water and away from our bodies. And is definitely the right thing to do! Please join me in supporting this important bill.