Filling the Gaps in the Fight Against Invasive Species


I. Highlights

A. The alien invasive species problem in Hawaii is both serious and daunting. The damage that invasive species cause and may potentially cause affects the State's health and safety, as well as its economic and environmental well being.

B. The present system to fight invasive species is comprised of dedicated state, federal and private agencies. The system, however, is plagued with serious gaps and leaks.

C. Two of the more major gaps involve funding problems and administering invasive species programs.

D. This report addresses these gaps by recommending the establishment of an Invasive Species Administrator/Coordinator and suggesting various sources of funding to finance invasive species programs.


II. Anticipated Questions

A. Will the establishment of an Invasive Species Administrator/Coordinator and the use of various funding sources suggested by this study solve the invasive species problem in Hawaii?

Answer: No. Although the administration of programs and money are two very important issues in the fight against invasive species, they are by no means a panacea.

It is important to understand that alien invasive species are not limited to just the miconia, Brown tree snake, or Caribbean coqui frog. "Invasive species" is a collective term that refers to all foreign plants, animals and organisms that are harmful to Hawaii. Recognition of this "big picture" is necessary to appreciate the overall damage caused by all invasive species and to formulate programs and policies that appreciate the long-term requirements necessary to effectively and efficiently utilize funds and resources.

It is also important for the Legislature to realize that funding for invasive species is an on-going cost. The elimination of the coqui frog or miconia or any other pest will not of itself solve the invasive species problem. Like any other budget line item such as education or housing, the invasive species problem is a recurring legislative concern.

B. How much will it cost to solve the invasive species problem?

Answer: For one year, the estimated cost of financing all invasive species programs is approximately $50 million. Obviously, that amount is beyond the reach of the State, especially in this economic climate.

It is more important for the Legislature to focus on the on-going nature of the funding problem and to designate dedicated sources of funding for fighting invasive species, as well as to concentrate funding on prevention and inspection activities to achieve the greatest return on funds expended.