Bolstering biosecurity

LIHUE — Hawaii has been dubbed the endangered species capital of the world, and the state’s Department of Agriculture is partnering with other agencies to create a plan to protect the biodiversity of the archipelago.

“The state’s first line of defense against invasive species has always been the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, but in the 21st century we need partners,” said Scott Enright, chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

He continued: “The threat of potential invasive species goes beyond HDOA’s mandate and this new interagency biosecurity plan will help the state focus on important priorities that will protect the environment and agriculture in Hawaii now and in the future.”

The 2017-2027 draft Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan has been presented in a series of meetings, and representatives from HDOA met on Kauai on Wednesday night to gather public comments.

The plan is made up of components at state, federal and county levels and key players in its creation were HDOA, the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Department of Health and the University of Hawaii.

The plan is meant to address gaps in the state’s biosecurity in three ways: by creating policies to prevent invasive species from making it to Hawaii, policies that support inspecting incoming items for pest entry, and policies that support detecting and responding to new invasive species, as well as controlling established populations.

In total, the plan has 150 actions that would enhance the biosecurity system, according to DLNR, with 10 key areas highlighted. They include E-manifest and intelligence gathering, renewed focus on human health, enhanced control of established pests and minimized inter-island spread.

“Really this is a risk communication tool to educate the public and elected officials of the problem invasive species could be,” Enright said. “Like coqui frogs, for instance. Over there on Kauai, you don’t have them, but if you go to the Big Island, I promise you don’t want those outside your hotel room.”

A copy of the draft biosecurity plan is available at http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/main/biosecurityplan/, and comments will be accepted until Oct. 21.

To submit comments, email Joy DeBruyn at H.T. Harvey & Associates at: jdebruyn@harveyecology.com

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