A ban on shipping ohia plants and soil from Hawaii Island is now permanent.
The quarantine restrictions were established as emergency interim rules in August 2015 in order to prevent the spread rapid ohia death (ROD), also known as ohia wilt, which is destroying the native ohia forests on Hawaii Island.
The now-permanent rules restrict the movement of the following from Hawaii Island: ohia plants; ohia plant parts including flowers, leaves, seeds, stems, twigs, cuttings, untreated wood, logs, mulch greenwaste and frass (sawdust from boring insects, such as beetles); and soil.
Movement of ohia material and soil from Hawaii Island requires inspection and a permit issued by the Plant Quarantine Branch of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). Testing and quarantine of some items may be required.
Shippers may contact the Plant Quarantine offices in Hilo at 808-961-9393 or Kona at 808-326-1077 for more information.
Any person who violates the rule may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined not less than $100. The maximum fine is $10,000. For a second offense committed within five years of a prior conviction under this rule, the person or organization shall be fined not less than $500 and not more than $25,000.
ROD is a deadly fungus that is killing ohia trees in East, West and South Hawaii Island. ROD was first noticed in 2010 in Puna.
In 2014, the fungus was identified as Ceratocystis fimbriata by researchers at the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Daniel K. Inouye Agricultural Research Service. That same year, it was estimated that the disease covered approximately 6,000 acres from Kalapana to Hilo and exhibited tree mortality rates of more than 50 percent.
Currently, it is estimated to infest about 50,000 across Hawaii Island. It is not known how the disease entered the state or where it came from.
Public hearings on the proposed permanent rules were held statewide earlier this year.