New & Noteworthy: Rust Rule, ‘Alala, Coming Events

posted in: September 2019 | 0

Puccinia Rule: On August 27, the state Board of Agriculture (BOA) unanimously approved a rule intended to reduce imports of plants that could carry a fungus, Puccinia psidii, that poses a danger to ‘ohi‘a trees. As Environment Hawai‘i reported more than four years ago, the rule would be the first to protect a native tree.

As welcome as the rule is, the long delay in its approval is puzzling. The puccinia rust was first observed in Hawai‘i in April 2005. Shortly afterward, the BOA approved a three-year emergency rule banning importation of plants in the Myrtle family.

After the emergency rule expired in 2008, the BOA followed up … seven years later, and even then, only after the 2014 Legislature urged it to “expeditiously adopt a permanent rule restricting plants in the Myrtaceae family.” A broad range of plants are in that family, including guava, mountain apple, and eucalyptus, as well as ‘ohi‘a.

The public information officer for the Department of Agriculture was asked why the processing of the rule has taken so long. No response had been provided by press time.

For more on the history of the Puccinia psidii rule, see the cover stories in the September 2011 and April 2015 editions of Environment Hawai‘i.

Lost ‘Alala: Late last month, as the ‘Alala Project prepared to release another cohort of the endangered birds into the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve, it also revealed some recent setbacks: Mele, a male for the 2017 cohort, had been found dead with wounds suggesting he was attacked by an ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), and a female released at the same time, ‘Awa, “has not been able to be located for the past month after her transmitter stopped emitting a signal,” an Instagram post states. The project also noted that another 2017 cohort male, Kalokomaika‘i, had tobe treated at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center for minor injuries.

“While these recent events can be challenging, the potential for loss in re- introductions is a reality and the reasons for loss are often part of the ecosystem as well,” the group stated.

Give Aloha, Again: It’s September, and that means that it’s Give Aloha month at all Foodland stores in the state. Customers may choose to donate to Environment Hawai‘i and other charities at checkout, and Foodland will augment those donations in proportion to the given charity’s fraction of all donations to all charities made during the month.

The registration number for Environment Hawai‘i is 77036. But no worriesif you forget: there’s a list of charities at every checkout stand that customers can refer to.

Our November 8 Event: Jeffrey Polovina will be the special guest speaker at Environment Hawai‘i’s annual dinner, to be held this year on November 8 at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.

For much of the 38 years that Polovina was with the National Oceanic and At- mospheric Administration, he was senior scientist and chief of the Ecosystem and Oceanography Division at NOAA’s Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu. He began his work in Hawai‘i by studying the trophic systems in the islands’ coral reef ecosystems. Out of that work came ECOPATH, an ecosystem model that is still in wide use today.

He and his colleagues also studied the physical-biological linkages in marine ecosystems, looking closely at the ways in which regime shifts, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño events, affect ecosystems.

Polovina’s current research uses climate and ecosystem models and data to identify potential fishing and climate impacts on marine ecosystems, with particular focus on the central North Pacific pelagic ecosystem.

Cost is $75 per person, which includes a $40 donation to Environment Hawai‘i. For reservations, call 808 934-0115.

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