Bill Encourages Invasive Species Research
The Hawaiʻi congressional delegation introduced the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative on Tuesday, March 7.
The legislation would help fight the macadamia felted coccid, an invasive species destroying macadamia trees and threatening the entire domestic macadamia nut industry.
Since the invasive insect was introduced to Hawaiʻi in 2005, it has cost the local macadamia nut industry millions every year, threatening the vitality of one of Hawaiʻi’s most important crops.
The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative would authorize highly sought research and development to help fight the invasive insect and establish an Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) plan in affected areas to help manage the invasive pest in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective way.
“The macadamia felted coccid is one of more than 4,300 invasive species that threaten our agriculture industry in Hawaiʻi and across the United States,”” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “In Hawaiʻi alone, this pest costs our local farmers, landowners and agriculture industry millions of dollars a year, and puts hundreds of local farms, thousands of local workers and the future of one of our most important crops at risk. Very little is known about this invasive pest, making it difficult for our farmers and agriculture industry to fight back. The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative will authorize much-needed research and development and establish a comprehensive management plan to help our local agriculture industry combat these invasive, harmful insects.”
“Our delegation is united in the fight against macadamia felted coccid—which has been ravaging our $46 million macadamia nut industry for over a decade,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI). “We need to bring in federal resources to fight this invasive pest and work to protect and support Hawaiʻi agriculture.”
“Hawai‘i’s tropical climate and constant movement of people and cargo expose our farmers and their crops to pests from all over the world,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “As we address the macadamia felted coccid, I hope that we can use lessons learned from fighting the coffee berry borer to develop an integrated approach that will be able to turn and fight other pests when they are introduced. Quick, systematic action gives us the best chance to save crops and keep Hawai‘i’s economy strong.”
“Although indigenous to Australia, mMacadamia trees have been in Hawaiʻi since the late 1800’s and have a long economic and cultural association with the islands,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “This bill is vital to ensure that we target the macadamia felted coccoid and manage all harmful invasive species, while protecting our agriculture industry and fragile ecosystem.”