Hawaii Animal Imports
CASE NUMBER: 90
CASE MNEMONIC: HAWAII
CASE NAME: Hawaii Animal Imports
1. The Issue
Hawaii was once a remote tropical paradise, an Eden far
removed from the rest of the world. The discovery of Hawaii by the
Polynesians in 400 A.D. marked the end of the Archipelago's
isolation. The discovery of Hawaii by the Polynesians and the
arrival of Europeans in the late eighteenth century have produced
long-term detrimental effects on Hawaii's ecosystem. Foreigners
who visited Hawaii fundamentally altered the ecosystem of the
islands, primarily via the introduction of alien species of flora
and fauna. New species often overwhelmed Hawaii's fragile habitat,
obliterating many of the island's native populations of plants and
animals. As a result, many species endemic to Hawaii have been
classified as endangered species. Both the U.S. government and the
Hawaiian government have attempted to protect the endangered
species and deter further damage to the island's ecosystem.
In 400 A.D. Polynesians arrived in Hawaii with a vast range of
alien species including dogs, pigs, rats, jungle fowl, snails,
lizards and dozens of new plants. Until the Polynesians arrived
Hawaii's only mammals were one species of bat and one of seal.
Captain James Cook, the first European to discover Hawaii, arrived
at Kealakkekua Bay in January of 1779 where he presented natives
with taro, feral pigs, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Cook was
eventually killed in a dispute with a group of native Hawaiians who
allegedly confiscated one of his boats.
The Hawaiians had believed that Cook was the god of peace and
agriculture (Lono) until the fatal fight in which they discovered
his mortality. Ironically, Cook is immortal in a sense because he
introduced the feral pig to Hawaii. Today, the descendants of
Cook's pig population continue to have dire effects on Hawaii's
Feral pigs knock down tree-ferns, eating the starchy centers,
leaving troughs that attract mosquitoes. The mosquitoes then carry
diseases to native Hawaiian birds whose immune systems are
unfamiliar with the new germs. Native birds are not only
endangered by alien diseases but they are also threatened by
foreign predators as well. Baby Honeycreepers instinctively jump
out of their nests onto the forest floor to hide from airborne
predators. The ground is now saturated with alien animal species
including cats, rats, dogs and mongooses whom eagerly feast on the
defenseless Honeycreepers. Native Hawaiian hawks and owls now
have to compete with the introduced predators for food. Half of
the 140 original species of birds in Hawaii are now extinct.
Feral pigs have also endangered many of the native plant
species by overgrazing in the rain forest. The pigs gnaw at the
tree's bark and devour valuable nutrients from the forest floor.
Pig feces also allow aggressive alien plant species to grow rapidly
while the pigs continue to feast on the native plants. The
Hawaiian government has encouraged hunters to stalk the feral pigs.
All legally hunted game animals in Hawaii are introduced species.
Alien plants such as the Miconia calvescens, introduced from
Latin America, overran and threatened indigenous flora. The
Silversword Plant is just one example of an endangered plant
species in Hawaii. Recent laws have given the state the authority
to require private land owners to eliminate or control plants on
the noxious weed list on their property.
Planes flying to Hawaii have also introduced alien predators.
Brown tree snakes which are responsible for killing 9 of Guam's 11
bird species are said to have arrived in Hawaii by slithering into
wheel wells of jets and dropping out when the planes land (see
GUAMBAT case). Visitors to the island have also attempted to
smuggle in snakes. The penalty for bringing a snake into Hawaii
has recently been increased to $25,000. Dogs have been trained
to sniff out foreign species of plants, animals and soils at
Hawaiian airports. An Amnesty program in 1990 allowed people to
turn in a variety of illegal species without legal repercussions.
Among the species that were turned in were African clawed frogs,
coral snakes, and a Hybrid wolf.
Tourists from all over the world, including the continental
United States, have brought in alien predators that have destroyed
much of Hawaii's indigenous wildlife. Under the 1973 Endangered
Species Act (PL 93-205), Hawaii has attempted to protect its
3. Related Cases
(1): Forum = USA
(2): Bio-geography = TROPical
(3): Environmental Problem = Species loss Air (SPLA)
4. Draft Author: Christopher Clowery
B. LEGAL Cluster
5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 gave the states primary
authority for managing endangered species programs. There was a
consensus that endangered species, both domestic and foreign,
should be afforded additional protection. Hawaii comprises less
than .02 percent of the land area of the United States, yet it has
more than 25 percent of the country's listed endangered species.
Hawaii has attempted to conserve land and to inspect the luggage
of tourists in order to protect endangered species. The 103
Congress earmarked 58.7 million for endangered species activities.
6. Forum and Scope: USA and UNILATeral
Although the law is meant to protect all of the endangered
species in the United States it also prohibits trading in or
possession of specimens of fish, wildlife or plants contrary to the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) signed on March 3, 1973. As of now, 63
Hawaiian Plants have been added to the federal endangered species
7. Decision Breadth: 1 (USA)
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 contains domestic
provisions as well as international provisions (CITES). In Hawaii's
case the most important signatory is the United States. To help
native species the law authorized the secretaries of interior and
commerce to acquire lands and waters for the purpose of protecting,
restoring or propagating any endangered or threatened species of
plants and animals. "In 1986, the federal government purchased
the nations' first national wildlife refuge for rain forest bird
protection-Hakalau Forest NWR on Hawaii island." In 1989 the
Federal government owned 16.5 percent of Hawaii's land.
8. Legal Standing: LAW
C. GEOGRAPHIC Cluster
10. Geographic Locations
a. Geographic Domain: PACIFIC
b. Geographic Site: Western Pacific [WPAC]
c. Geographic Impact: USA
11. Sub-National Factors: NO
12. Type of Habitat: TROPical
D. Trade Clusters
13. Type of Measure: Import Ban [IMBAN]
14. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: DIRect
15. Relation of Measure to environmental Impact
a. Directly Related: NO
b. Indirectly Related: YES MANY
c. Not Related: NO
d. Process Related: YES Species Loss Air [SPLA]
16. Trade Product Identification: Alien plants and animals
17. Economic Data
Japanese tourists in Hawaii spend as much as $344 a day, three
times as much as American tourists. Tourism accounted for roughly
one third of Hawaii's $29.8 billion economy in 1992.
Hawaii has targeted a goal of 12 million visitors by 2005.
18. Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: LOW
19. Industry Sector: TOURism
20. Exporter and Importer: MANY
E. Environmental Clusters:
21. Environmental Problem Type: Species Loss Air [SPLA]
22. Name, Type and Diversity of Species:
Diversity: 1,059 higher plant species per 10,000
About 35 percent of America's endangered species of plants and
40 percent of its endangered birds are located in Hawaii.
22. Resource Impact and Effect: HIGH and REGULatory
23. Urgency of the Problem: HIGH and 5-10 years
24. Substitutes: Import Standard [IMSTD]
25. OTHER factors
25. Culture: NO
26. Trans-Border: YES
Visitors are prohibited from bringing in their native species
of plants and animals. Fines serve as a deterrent to tourists who
are tempted to bring alien predators. Under the Endangered Species
Act of 1973 it has become the responsibility of the Hawaiian
government to inspect the cargo of tourists. Over the last 20
years the number of visitors has doubled, while quarantine
inspections have only increased 15 percent. Tourists from many
different national origins have posed a significant problem.
Plants have been introduced from Latin America, pigs from Europe
and frogs from Africa. Each introduction threatens the ecological
niche of native species. Alien species have obliterated native
species. Honeycreeper birds are just one of many Hawaiian species
that will need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
27. Rights: NO
28. Relevant Literature
Castillo, S. "Wild Pigs Tearing up Vital Maui Forest Area"
Honolulu Star Bulletin. March 11, 1985, A3.
Gillis, A.M. "Keeping Aliens Out of Paradise."
Bioscience 42/7, July/August, 1992, 482-485.
Harrigan, S. "Hawaii, America's Eden: Trouble is on the
Road to Paradise." 1992.
Rogers, M. "Little Birds Lost" National Wildlife.
October/November, 1993, 22-26.
"Under Siege." The Economist 10, April, 1993, 91-92.