Board of Agriculture Approves Permit Conditions for Transport of Soil from Hawaii Island

Posted on Mar 29, 2016 in Main

March 29, 2016

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Board of Agriculture today approved permit conditions for the movement of all soil from Hawaii Island, which were added to the current interisland quarantine to prevent the spread of rapid ohia death (ROD), unique strains of the fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata. The restriction on soil may affect those traveling to the Merrie Monarch Festival and purchasing potted plants on Hawaii Island.  Potted plants that are in soil-free potting media may be transported interisland; however, if the potted plant contains soil from Hawaii Island, transport will be prohibited except by permit. Agricultural inspection is also required of all potted plants, cuttings and shoots for replanting.

Today, the board voted to approve the permit conditions for soil from Hawaii Island, which include:

  • Obtaining an interisland permit from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA);
  • Soil is subject to testing for ROD or the shipper must be an active participant in HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch (PQB) compliance program, which involves periodic testing and inspections;
  • All shipments must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection from HDOA, an interisland permit and an invoice or packing list;
  • Shipments must be clearly labeled as “Soil from Hawaii Island” or “Soil Samples from Hawaii Island for Research and Analysis,” and “This Parcel May Be Opened and Delayed for Agricultural Inspection;” and
  • Shipments are subject to post-arrival inspection by a PQB inspector.

Other conditions involve required shipper’s identification and contact information and required reporting of any disease outbreaks related to the shipment.


“The board took under serious consideration the impact of restrictions on the movement of soil from Hawaii Island and the majority felt that this action needs to be taken to help prevent the spread of this disease to uninfected islands,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Our team at Plant Quarantine will work closely with those who use soil in potted plants to help mitigate any adverse impact on the nursery industry.”

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture issued an emergency quarantine in August of 2015 to stop the spread of the plant fungus from Hawaii Island to other islands. The quarantine prohibits the interisland transport of ohia plants and plant parts, including flowers, leaves, seeds, stems, twigs, cuttings, untreated wood, logs, mulch greenwaste and frass (sawdust from boring beetles) and any soil from Hawaii Island without a permit issued by HDOA.

At the August 2015 meeting, the board requested more information and research into the ability of soil to be a vector of ROD so that they could determine if soil is more than just a carrier of ROD, and if soil containing ROD spores can infect ohia plants. Information provided at today’s meeting supported a continued quarantine on soil to stop the spread of ROD.

HDOA worked with researchers at federal and state levels, including the latest research being conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Daniel K. Inouye Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) on Hawaii Island which indicates that ROD spores in soil may infect ohia plants. Earlier this month, the information was presented to the Advisory Subcommittee on Plants, the Advisory Subcommittee on Fungi and the Advisory Committee on Plants and Animals – all of which recommended the board approve the permit conditions for the interisland movement of soil from Hawaii Island.

Any person who violates the quarantine 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.

During this Merrie Monarch Festival period, HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors have printed a travel alert that is available at airports statewide. The card explains the quarantine and what travelers should and should not do. The information is also available on the department’s website at:

The Merrie Monarch Festival runs from March 27 to April 2 and the multi-agency ROD working group will have a booth at the festival for the collection of ohia material.

ROD, also known as ohia wilt, was first noticed in 2010 in Puna. In 2014, the fungus was identified as Ceratocystis fimbriata by researchers at USDA-ARS. In 2014, 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 infect about 34,000 acres. So far, the disease has not been found on other islands. It is not known how the disease entered the state or where it came from.

Travelers seeking more inspection information may contact HDOA’s Plant Quarantine offices:

Hilo – (808) 974-4141

Kona – (808) 326-1077

Honolulu – (808) 837-8413
Maui – (808) 872-3848
Kauai – (808) 241-7135

More information on ROD may be found at:

HDOA website:

UH-College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources website:

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