Gov. David Ige, between the beetle and the ant, with all the honorees. Photo courtesy DLNR

Gov. David Ige proclaimed the 5th annual Hawai‘i Invasive Species Awareness Week at a ceremony Friday that included agency leaders, legislators, industry champions, and citizens who help project Hawai‘i from the impacts of invasive species, as reported by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Among those honored, there were three Kaua‘i leaders; Serina Marchi, of Seascapes Nursery; community member Shawn Baliaris; and Kawika Smith, of Limahuli Garden.

Ige presented the proclamation to members of the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council, the interagency board responsible for policy direction and cross-sector coordination on invasive species issues. Addressing invasive species is a critical component of this administration’s vision for Hawai‘i’s future, as described in the recent Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan and the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative.

In partnership with the HISC, legislators presented a series of awards to community members and businesses that have made substantial contributions to invasive species prevention and control. Reps. Richard Creagan, Nicole Lowen, James Tokioka, Dee Morikawa and Nadine Nakamura joined Sens. Mike Gabbard and J. Kalani English in highlighting the importance of this issue for Hawai‘i. The governor, legislators and HISC members were joined by two giant invasive species: costumed versions of a Little Fire Ant and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, provided by the O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee.

State Rep. James Tokioka, presenting an award to Kawika Smith, director of Limahuli Garden. Photo courtesy of DLNR

The awardees for Greatest Hit of 2017, Community Hero, and Business Leader were selected from community nominations, and County MVP awards were selected by the University of Hawai‘i’s Invasive Species Committees. An award for the Hottest Pest Hotline Report was nominated by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.

“While there is much work to do, this event is an opportunity for us to celebrate successes,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case. “The awardees today exemplify how much Hawai‘i’s communities care about protecting Hawai‘i’s natural resources, agriculture, and way of life from invasive species.”

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawai‘i State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawai‘i’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawai‘i’s people.” In additi