Regulations & Policy

Official Designation of Invasive Species

The HISC is in the process of drafting and adopting administrative rules to formally define species that are invasive in Hawaii. While no official designation currently exists, the species listed on this site as “invasives” are a sample of high-profile species that are considered to be invasive due to their ability or potential to cause harm to Hawaii’s environment, economy, or way of life. At this time, the description of these species as “invasive” is for educational purposes and is not related to regulatory restrictions.

Current Regulations

While no official State designation of “invasive species” currently exists, the State of Hawaii has existing regulations relating to species that may harm Hawaii’s environment, economy, health, or lifestyle.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) regulates a number of activities related to pests. Below are a few key examples of HDOA policies that are relevant to pest species. For a full description of HDOA’s mandates, administrative rules, and programs, visit the HDOA website.

  • Importation of species into Hawaii
  • Intrastate Quarantine
    • The HDOA also regulates the movement of agricultural pests within the State by restricting the movement of certain goods between islands and inspecting interisland shipments. The process by which HDOA regulates these shipments is described in Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 72. You can learn more by visiting the Plant Quarantine Branch’s page on their Interisland Inspection Program.
  • Noxious Weeds
    • The HDOA defines “noxious weeds” in Chapter 152, HRS as “any plant species which is, or which may be likely to become, injurious, harmful, or deleterious to the agricultural, horticultural, aquacultural, or livestock industry of the State and to forest and recreational areas and conservation districts of the State, as determined and designated by the department from time to time.” The criteria for designating noxious weeds and the list of species currently designated as such are available in Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 68.
  • Pests for Control
    • The HDOA Plant Pest Control Branch eradicates, contains, or controls pests of plants which could cause significant economic damage to agriculture, our environment, and quality of life. This branch of the HDOA includes the Biological Control Section, which researches and develops biological control agents to mitigate the impacts of certain pests.

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) regulates the transport of and release of wildlife, manages aquatic and terrestrial resources, and is the administrative home of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council. To see a full description of the department’s mandates, administrative rules, and programs, visit the DLNR website.

  • Injurious Wildlife
    • Under statutory authorities provided by Chapter 183D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) maintains Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 124, which defines “injurious wildlife” as “any species or subspecies of animal except game birds and game mammals which is known to be harmful to agriculture, aquaculture, indigenous wildlife or plants, or constitute a nuisance or health hazard and is listed in the exhibit entitled “Exhibit 5, Chapter 13-124, List of Species of Injurious Wildlife in Hawaii…” Unless permitted by DLNR, it is prohibited to release, transport, or export injurious wildlife. Permits may be applied for per the instructions at DOFAW’s Injurious Wildlife page.
  • Alien Aquatic Organisms
    • Under statutory authority provided Chapter 187A-31, Hawaii Revised Statutes, DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is designated as the lead State agency for preventing the introduction and carrying out the destruction of alien aquatic organisms through the regulation of ballast water discharges and hull fouling organisms.
  • Hawaii Invasive Species Council
    • Chapter 194, Hawaii Revised Statutes, identifies the DLNR as the administrative host of the interagency Hawaii Invasive Species Council and designates the chairperson of DLNR as a voting member of the HISC. By convention, the chairperson of DLNR acts as a co-chair of the HISC, along with the chairperson of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. It is under this statute that the Council has the authority to adopt administrative rules that will allow the Council to provide an official State delegation of invasive species.

Hawaii Department of Health

The Department of Health regulates programs that impact human and environmental health. Though the Department’s Vector Control Branch was eliminated in 2009, the Department is still mandated to control vectors of human disease. Remaining Vector Control Workers are currently employed under the Department’s Sanitation Branch. You can learn more at the DOH webpage for Vector & Disease Control.

  • Vector Control
    • Chapter 321-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes describes subjects of health under the Department’s purview, including the management of mosquito breeding habitat and the deinsectization of aircraft to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of disease or the introduction or spread of any insect or other vector of significance to health. The Department’s programs relating to vector control are further described in Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 26.