State Noxious Species: An Exclusive List

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Getting species added to the state’s noxious species list isn’t easy. Any proposed plant must meet five criteria to be designated. For species that are already in Hawai`i, designation helps to provide the legal authority to control them, including a right-of-entry.

Unless the species meets specific reproduction, growth, impact, control, and distribution thresholds, it can’t be added to the list.

For example, if an invasive species in Hawai`i has broad distribution or isn’t an incipient population spanning less than five acres, it can’t be designated as a noxious weed.

Because of such criteria, very few species are added to the list, says Becky Azama, noxious weed specialist for the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture.

Although she gets two to three requests a year, “There’s nothing in the works right now,” she says.

Most recently, she’s received requests to add mangrove, guinea grass, and the Australian tree fern to the list, but they’ve made little headway. 

“Those are pests in their own areas, they have their problems, but when you look at what criteria they have to fit in, they don’t qualify,” she says. “A lot of people make suggestions, we tell them the requirements and documentation needs, then we don’t hear from them.”

She adds that the DOA did add the coqui frog, fire ant, and nettle caterpillar to the list on its own accord. 

“If there’s something that would be pressing, we wouldn’t have to wait. We can do it, if there’s a need, depending on resources,” she says, noting that her department has lost half of its staff.

Teresa Dawson

Volume 22, Number 3 — September 2011

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