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8 New Cases of Hepatitis A – Confirmed Cases Rises to 284

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 8 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 71 have required hospitalization.

hepatitis-headerFindings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and five visitors have returned to the mainland or overseas.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
284

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/16/16.

Quarantine Order Issued on Maui Property Infested with Little Fire Ants

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was granted a quarantine order by Maui Circuit Judge Peter T. Cahill that prohibits the movement of plant material and personal property in outdoor areas on a Maui property infested with little fire ants (LFA). Earlier this month, HDOA obtained a warrant to access the property at 82 Loomis St. in Haiku after the tenant continually refused to allow LFA eradication crews to survey and treat the area.

loomis

LFA were detected in the Haiku neighborhood in early 2015 and surrounding properties have been under treatment to eradicate the invasive stinging ants. Although the landowner has been cooperative, the tenant on the property has refused to cooperate for many months which forced the state to take legal action.

Under the earlier warrant, department pest control personnel were able to survey the 1.75-acre property on Sept. 12th and found LFA infestations in potted plants, kalo patches and other vegetation. On Sept. 20th and 21st, HDOA crews returned to the property to treat the infested areas. On all three occasions, HDOA crews were accompanied by members of the Maui Police Department and the state Attorney General’s office due to persistent harassment and threats by the tenant.

Treatment of the property is expected to continue for about a year. Monitoring will continue after eradication is declared for three additional years. Judge Cahill’s order regarding quarantine of the property will remain in effect until further order by the court.

HDOA has not taken this type of legal action since 2000 during the eradication efforts for banana bunchy top virus on Hawaii Island. Usually, the department tries to work cooperatively with residents, farms and nurseries to eradicate invasive pests. Eradication efforts have been extremely successful on Oahu, in Mililani and Waimanalo, mainly due to the cooperation of residents and residential associations.

LFA was first detected on Maui in 2009 on an organic farm in Waihee. The infestation was under control in one year following the treatment protocol developed by Dr. Casper Vanderwoude of the Hawaii Ant Lab and the ongoing efforts of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC). In late 2013, LFA was found on Maui and traced to infested hapu`u logs imported from Hawaii Island, where LFA is widely established. Eradication efforts continue at another infestation site in East Maui.

When LFA was first detected on Hawaii Island in 1999, there was no treatment protocol for eradication or control. The Hawaii Ant Lab was subsequently established and has developed proven methods that can eradicate infestations if detected early.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.  LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th of an inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly, unlike the tropical fire ant which moves quickly and are much larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. Tropical fire ants have been well established in Hawaii since before the 1870’s. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, buildings and homes and may completely overrun a property to the point of abandonment.

For more information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HDOA website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/lfainfo/

Rep. Gabbard Introduces Bill to Protect Macadamia Nuts and Fund Invasive Species Research in Hawaii

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation today to help fight the macadamia felted coccid, an invasive species destroying macadamia trees and threatening the domestic macadamia nut industry at large.

Since the invasive insect was introduced to Hawaiʻi in 2005, it has cost the local macadamia nut industry millions every year, threatening the vitality of one of Hawaiʻi’s most important crops. The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative would authorize highly sought research and development to help fight the invasive insect and establish an Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) plan in affected areas to help manage the invasive pest in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and cost effective way.

macadamia-felted-coccid

“The macadamia felted coccid is one of more than 4,300 invasive species that threaten our agriculture industry in Hawaiʻi and across the United States. In Hawaiʻi alone, this pest costs our local farmers, landowners and agriculture industry millions of dollars a year, and puts hundreds of local farms, thousands of local workers, and the future of one of our most important crops at risk,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “As I visited multiple farms on Hawaiʻi Island last month, I heard story after story of how this tiny invasive insect is destroying farms and threatening the livelihood of communities like Kona, Kaʻu, and Hilo. Very little is known about this invasive pest, making it difficult for our agriculture workers to fight back. The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative will authorize much-needed research and development and establish a comprehensive management plan to help our local agriculture industry combat these invasive, harmful insects.”

“The Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau applauds Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s efforts to help the Hawaiʻi macadamia industry and fully supports the proposed Macadamia Tree Health Initiative. Federal funding is desperately needed to find a solution to controlling the macadamia felted coccid which has severely impacted the Hawaiʻi macadamia growers. The initiative can be a game changer in our farmers’ fight against this devastating pest,” said the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Federation.

“The Edmund C. Olson Trust No. 2 is a grower of over 1,100 acres of macadamia orchards on the island of Hawaiʻi and a part owner of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, a processor of several million pounds of nuts grown by the Trust and many dozens of independent growers around the island. We truly appreciate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s proposed Macadamia Tree Health Initiative. The invasive macadamia felted coccid is an especially damaging pest to many growers on Hawaiʻi Island. The health and wellness of our trees translates into a healthy industry able to keep our employees and their families with good jobs.  Further, healthy trees also assure consumers that Hawaiian-grown macadamia nuts will continue to be the finest macadamia products for many years to come. This bill will help not only our farm but that of the 16,000 acres of other growers and processors that combined produce some 50 million pounds of nuts each year,” said John Cross, land manager for the the Edmund C. Olson Trust II.

“Royal Hawaiian Orchards (RHO) is a grower of macadamia nuts on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and supports the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative. The threat to the macadamia orchards in Hawaiʻi from the macadamia felted coccid (MFC) is real and potentially devastating. The plan to develop and disseminate the best science based tools for treating MFC will make the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative exactly what the industry needs,” said Martin E. Ramirez, Director of Farming Operations at Royal Hawaiian Services.

Background: Last year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) Act (H.R.3893) to support long-term sustainable solutions to many pest management problems and reduce invasive species impact on agriculture and the environment. The bill would help farmers in Hawaiʻi and across the country fight invasive species like the coffee berry borer, fruit flies, and macadamia felted coccid [kok-sid]. AIPM systems reduce reliance on a single pest management tactic, reduce risks to human health and the environment, and increases economic benefits for farming communities across the nation.

Coast Guard Searching for Canadian Sailor Last Seen Leaving Hilo

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a Canadian sailor seen leaving in Hilo, Hawaii, Aug. 1 by a fellow mariner.

Paul Lim

Paul Lim

Mr. Paul Lim of Salt Spring Island, British Colombia, reportedly left Hilo bound for Victoria, Canada, aboard the 35-foot Sailing Vessel Watercolour. U.S. Coast Guardsmen estimate Mr. Lim should’ve have arrived in Victoria by approximately Sept. 10 or 11.

U.S. Coast Guardsmen at Rescue Coordination Center Alameda began broadcasting to mariners along Mr. Lim’s possible route to be on the lookout for his vessel Sept 21. They have queried dozens of commercial vessels along his route and are broadcasting to all mariners along the Pacific coast including Alaska and Hawaii.

A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 from Air Station Barbers Point in Honolulu completed a search in an area between Hilo and Victoria Thursday with no sign of Mr. Lim.

The Canadian Coast Guard is assisting by maintaining contact with Mr. Lim’s family and is acting as a conduit for information in the search. Mr. Lim was reported overdue by his loved ones to the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Watercolour is a 35-foot white hull Spencer vessel with whites sails and a blue canvas dodger. Mr. Lim was also towing a nine-foot pink dingy behind the Watercolour.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Lim or the Sailing Vessel Watercolour is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard at 510-437-3701.

Hawaii Innocence Project Event Will Test Reliability of Eyewitness Identification

Could you be a reliable eyewitness? Want to test your skills with some expert attorneys?

eyewitnees-identification

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in recognition of “International Wrongful Conviction Day,” the Hawai‘i Innocence Project will challenge audience members to see how well they can identify a possible suspect in a mock exercise at the UH Law School.

The program, titled “Eyewitness Identification,” is scheduled from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. in Classroom 2.  Lunch is available in the courtyard; donations are welcome.  Similar programs are taking place across the nation and around the world.

“Eyewitness Identification” aims to demonstrate pitfalls in the standard technique that has been used in courtrooms for decades. Documentation has begun to show that faulty eyewitness identification accounts for as much as 75 percent of all wrongful convictions, according to Innocence Project data.

The Hawai‘i Innocence Project is run by faculty members at the William S. Richardson School of Law, with assistance from community attorneys. In 2011, using advanced DNA testing technology, the Hawai‘i project succeeded in having Alvin Francis Jardine exonerated after he spent almost 20 years in prison for a rape and burglary he consistently maintained that he did not commit. The national organization has freed several hundred wrongly incarcerated people by using advanced DNA testing.

As part of the national Innocence Project network, Faculty Specialist Kenneth Lawson and Associate Dean Ronette Kawakami head the project and work with other attorneys on cases in Hawai‘i.  Said Law Dean Avi Soifer, “Our faculty and students, along with our cooperating attorneys, deserve great admiration for their passionate, tireless work to free those who have been unjustly imprisoned.”

The October 4 program will help show just how fallible eyewitness testimony can be.

Gonorrhea Outbreak in Hawaii Showed Increased Antibiotic Resistance

CNN reported today that there was a gonorrhea outbreak here in Hawaii recently:

Seven gonorrhea patients in Hawaii are the first known US cases in which the sexually transmitted infection showed reduced susceptibility to the single available effective treatment option, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. The patients were diagnosed in April and May.

The six men and one woman were all cured by ceftriaxone and azithromycin, the two-drug regimen recommended for treating gonorrhea by the CDC. However, laboratory tests by the Hawaii State Department of Health showed that the patients’ gonorrheal infections did not succumb as easily to the antibiotics as infections have in the past.
gonorrhea
CNN goes on to report that gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD):
“Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, but most people do not realize they have it. The only way they find out is through testing,” she said.
When health care providers do not treat according to the CDC’s two-drug regimen — a single shot of ceftriaxone and an oral dose of azithromycin — patients may feel better, and their symptoms may disappear, but they may still have the infection incubating inside them, explained Bolan.
“If you’re not treated correctly, you cannot rely on your symptoms to tell you you’ve been cured,” she said.
Though no failures of the current treatment regimen have been confirmed in the United States, the CDC has been closely monitoring antibiotic resistance.
“We usually see emerging decreased susceptibility or resistance coming from the West, starting with Hawaii, and then we also see a higher proportion of isolates with decreased susceptibility in men who have sex with men. This is a pattern we’ve seen with penicillin resistance and other antibiotics,” Bolan said.

Hawaii Hepatitis Outbreak Increases to 276 Confirmed Cases

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 5 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 68 have required hospitalization.

hepatitis-header

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and four visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
276

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/15/16.

Rep. Gabbard Calls for Accountability on DoD Travel Card Abuse and Waste

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and a bipartisan group of Congressional Members delivered a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calling for the Department of Defense (DoD) to address millions of dollars misused by DoD personnel on government travel credit cards. The letter follows a recent Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) report revealing inadequate action by the DoD to respond to multiple cases of abuse in recent years.

gabbard-travel-card

Click to read report

“In just one year, from July 2013 to June 2014, an initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal expenditures. Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of these government-issued cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The most recent report found that the Department of Defense has failed to take appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit. The Department has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse of the government travel cards, initiated reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains susceptible to continued waste and exploitation.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Jim Costa (CA-16), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Walter B. Jones (NC-03), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09). Full text is available below:

Dear Secretary Carter,

We are writing to express our concern about DoD personnel misusing government travel cards and American tax payer dollars.

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) has investigated these abuses on multiple occasions in recent years. The most recent investigation resulted in a report, issued on August 30, 2016, in which the DoD OIG found the Department has not done enough to respond to the infractions. The report findings also suggest the Department still maintains insufficient processes to address the problem: insufficient instruction on the appropriate use of the government travel card; improper reimbursements for personal expenses; and a tepid response from DoD management to correct these issues. Most troubling is that the most recent audit was conducted as a response to a previous report on DoD misuse of government travel cards released in 2015.

In a one year period from July 2013 to June 2014, the initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal use. Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576.

The most recent report found that the DoD has not taken appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit. The DoD has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse, initiate reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains vulnerable to continued waste and exploitation.

The DoD IG made a number of recommendations to re-focus the Department’s efforts on identifying, investigating, and reporting the misuse or abuse of government travel cards. In light of the Department’s halfhearted response to the previous audit, we request a response on how the Department intends to implement the DoD IG’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the Department’s progress.

We thank you for your attention to our concerns. We welcome further discussion on this issue.

New HVO Map Shows Location of New Lava Breakout

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field.

hvo-map-91916The area of the active flow field as of September 1 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on September 12 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

Map of coastal flow field with thermal overlay

This map includes a georeferenced thermal image mosaic showing the distribution of active and recently active breakouts on the coastal flow field.

hvo-map-91916a The thermal mosaic was acquired during a helicopter overflight on September 12. The episode 61g flow field is outlined in yellow to show the extent of the flow.

Hawaii DLNR Shares Concerns Over Reports of Sub-Standard Living Conditions on Certain Longline Fishing Vessels

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is aware of media reports regarding living and working conditions on longline fishing vessels that bring catches into Hawai‘i ports. DLNR’S area of responsibility is limited to the ministerial task of issuing commercial fishing licenses to qualified applicants.

dlnr“The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), issues licenses to individual fishermen engaged in commercial catch.  DAR continues to follow long-established statutory and administrative rules which require commercial marine licenses for the taking of marine life and landing it in the state for commercial purposes,” explained DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  The rules regarding Hawai‘i commercial marine licenses can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS-189-2 and HRS-189-5).

“We are naturally concerned about press reports pertaining to on-board living conditions, pay disparity and the issue of involuntary labor, and applaud the longline fishing industry for the efforts it is taking to resolve these issues,” Case added.  “Further we are happy to engage with any stakeholders, including lawmakers, commercial fishing interests, and other regulatory agencies, in explaining the current laws and regulations pertaining to licensing of commercial longline fishers and in exploring any legislative or administrative rule changes,” Case said. “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible,” she concluded.

HDOA Serves Warrant to Gain Access to Maui Property Infested with Little Fire Ants

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) obtained a court-ordered warrant and entered the property of a Maui resident who has continuously denied access to the property that was suspected of being infested with little fire ants (LFA).

lfa

LFA were detected in the Huelo neighborhood in early 2015 and surrounding properties have been under treatment to eradicate the stinging ants. With the warrant, HDOA Chairperson Scott Enright and department pest control personnel were able to survey the 1.75-acre property on Monday, Sept. 12 and found LFA infestations in potted plants and kalo patches.

“After months of unsuccessful discussions with the resident, the department was forced to take legal action in order to have any chance of eradicating this serious threat to the state,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

HDOA has not taken this type of legal action since 2000 during the eradication efforts for banana bunchy top virus on Hawaii Island. Usually, the department tries to work cooperatively with residents, farms and nurseries to eradicate invasive pests. Eradication efforts have been extremely successful on Oahu, in Mililani and Waimanalo, mainly due to the cooperation of residents and residential associations.

HDOA crews will return to the Huelo property to begin treatment of the infestation. Treatment of the Huelo property will include appropriate treatment for the kalo, because it is an edible crop.

LFA was first detected on Maui in 2009 on an organic farm in Waihee. The infestation was successfully eradicated in one year following the eradication protocol developed by Dr. Casper Vanderwoude of the Hawaii Ant Lab and the ongoing efforts of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC). In late 2013, LFA was found on Maui and traced to infested hapu`u logs imported from Hawaii Island, where LFA is widely established.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.  LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th of an inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly, unlike the tropical fire ant which moves quickly and are much larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. Tropical fire ants have been well established in Hawaii since before the 1870’s. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, buildings and homes and may completely overrun a property to the point of abandonment.

For more information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HDOA website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/lfainfo/

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Responds to AP Story on Alarming Fishing Industry Practices

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard issued the statement below today in response to the report by the Associated Press on alarming labor abuses and human rights violations in the U.S. fishing industry:

“The AP’s report that hundreds of foreign workers are being subjected to human rights abuses and inhumane conditions just off our shores is deeply disturbing. This is a problem that has been ignored for years, and must be immediately addressed. We are working with major stakeholders to determine the most expedient course of action to put an end to this unacceptable situation, and protect the safety and human rights of these crewmen, making sure that fair labor standards are enforced for all workers.”

In this March 23, 2016 photo, foreign fishermen aboard an American fishing boat unload a moonfish.

In this March 23, 2016 photo, foreign fishermen aboard an American fishing boat unload a moonfish.

Zika Video Released by University of Hawaii’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) at the University of Hawaiʻi focuses on natural hazards like climate change and other threats to coastal and island communities.

Under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, NDPTC has developed a short video in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the University of Hawaiʻi as part of its Just-in-Time Training initiative to promote awareness and deliver basic information about the Zika virus. The center has developed other Just-in-Time Training on tsunamis, volcanoes, and other emerging threats and hazards.

In this video, Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, provides key information about the virus including its potential for spreading from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus causing birth defects and transmission via mosquitoes and through sexual contact.

Zika has been found in the Americas, Oceania/Pacific Islands, Africa and Asia. According to the Center for Disease Control, travel-associated cases of the Zika virus have been found in every U.S. state except Alaska and Wyoming, and in every U.S. territory except Guam and American Samoa. Locally acquired cases have been found in only Florida, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. It is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedis albopictus). With the impact of climate change there has been a growth in regions that support mosquito habitats worldwide, increasing the world’s vulnerability to mosquito-borne diseases.

Aedes species of mosquito

Aedes species of mosquito

“We are particularly concerned about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases because of their potential impacts on vulnerable, at-risk populations,” said Karl Kim, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and executive director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. “We need to increase awareness of the disease but also work towards effective strategies for monitoring as well as combating Zika. As a global visitor destination, Hawaiʻi needs a multi-pronged approach involving health care providers, urban planners, emergency responders, as well as households and businesses is needed to manage this health threat.”

Homeowners and businesses need to protect themselves against mosquitoes and implement effective programs for mosquito control. Training and education is needed to increase preparedness as well as response and mitigation capabilities.

NDPTC is committed to provide relevant and up-to-date training and education on the latest threats to our society.

VIDEO: Vampires in the Islands – Hawaii Miss Vamp Contest 2016

I had no idea that Hawaii had anything like a Miss Vampire Contest but so goes it… and go figure it’s happening at the Trump International Hotel Waikiki!
miss-vampire-2016

Your first look at the contestants for Miss Vamp Hawaii 2016 as they strike a steak in our hearts during their first group photo shoot with Joe Marquez.

MOONLIGHT BATHING BALL / LINGERE FASHION SHOW | September 16th, 2016 – Trump International Hotel Waikiki – 6pm

MISS VAMP HAWAII 2016 PAGEANT | October 23, 2016 – The Hawaii Theater – 6pm

Halemaʻumaʻu Lava Lake Exceptionally High

Kīlauea’s summit lava lake rose to within about 5 m (16 ft) of the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater yesterday morning, before dropping back down slightly with the onset of spattering.

hvo-911This view, taken from the east edge of Halemaʻumaʻu, shows spattering at the south corner of the lava lake.

Zoomed in view of the spattering at the south edge of the lava lake.

hvo-911aNote the black high-lava mark from this morning on the wall just behind the spattering.

Summit inflation switched to deflation late yesterday afternoon. Deflation continued overnight and stopped this morning. The summit lava lake level, generally tracking the deflation, dropped to about 20 m (66 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater by this morning. It is likely that the summit will begin to inflate, and the lava lake will begin to rise again, sometime today. Webcam views of the lava lake can be found at the following webpage: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/region_kism.php.

hvo-911c

Click to enlarge and see time and date picture was taken.

Rapid Ohia Death Continues March Across Big Island Native Forests

A series of aerial surveys of six Hawaiian Islands reveals that the fungal disease, known as Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death has impacted nearly 50,000 acres of native forest on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. That’s an increase of some 13,000 acres from surveys done earlier in 2016. “It’s important to note that the aerial surveys still need verification by conducting ground-truthing and lab tests,” said Philipp Lahaela Walter, State Resource & Survey Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). While some of the increase is due to expanding the survey area, much of it is due to new tree mortality.

Images courtesy of DLNR

Images courtesy of DLNR

Lahaela Walter and his team flew in helicopters over vast tracts of forest on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, Kaua‘i, and Lana‘i, criss-crossing the landscape to look for tell-tale signs of the disease. Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, first described by scientists as a previously unknown fungus in 2014, kills trees indiscriminately and often quite quickly. “While we believe, based on the aerial survey work, that the disease continues to destroy hundreds of thousands of native ‘ohi‘a lehua on the Big Island, we saw scant evidence that the fungus is killing trees on the other islands. We did spot trees that could be dying of other causes, but so far none of the samples has been positive for the fungus (Cereatocystis) that causes Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death. Again we need to conduct ground surveys and either confirm or discount the presence of the disease in laboratory tests,” added Lahaela Walter. On the Big Island, just over 47,000 acres or nine percent (9%) of the forest surveyed showed symptoms of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death; brown or no leaves.

rod2“The quarantine measures put into place by the Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture appear to be stopping its spread to other islands,” according to DOFAW’s Rob Hauff. “These rules require inspections of soil and plant materials and prohibit, except by permit, interisland movement of any part of a native ‘ohi‘a tree,” Hauff said.

Highly valued for their beauty and significance in Hawaiian culture, native ‘ohi‘a lehua forests cover approximately 865,000 acres of land across the state and are considered the primary species providing habitat for countless plants, animals and invertebrates. These forests protect watersheds that provide significant agriculture and drinking water across the state. Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death threatens the State’s tropical forests and delicate ecosystems and ultimately could jeopardize local water supplies and Hawaiʻi’s economic vitality.

rod3The University of Hawai‘i Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA Agricultural Research Service assisted with planning for the helicopter surveys using specialized equipment. A team of experts from DLNR/DOFAW, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, Hawaii’s Invasive Species Committees, and the National Park Service/Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park conducted the surveys.

Research into treatments for the particular fungus that causes Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death continues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Hilo. Investigation into how it spreads is also being conducted with potential culprits being: insects, underground via roots, on small wood or dust particles, on shoes and equipment, and possibly on animals. Ultimately scientists hope that by identifying what is spreading the fungus they’ll be able to mitigate its devastating impacts.

rod4

In announcing additional funding for the fight against Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death, Hawai‘i U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said, “This is an ecological emergency, and it requires everyone working together to save Hawai‘i Island’s native forests. I’m pleased to see our federal partners step up to help. The additional funding will make a big difference, and it will give us the tools to understand the disease, develop better management responses, and protect our ‘Ōhiʻa.”

Lawmaker Ing Calls for AG Opinion on Fishing Vessel Controversy, Seeks Injunction

Representative Kaniela Ing, Chairperson of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs today sent a letter to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting an opinion on the alleged unfair labor and business practices conducted outside Piers 17 and 38 at Honolulu Harbor.

Click to read allegations

Click to read allegations

“I am extremely alarmed by recent reports of the gross mistreatment of workers aboard American fishing vessels right here in our Aloha State,” Ing said. “If these investigations hold any validity, we must act swiftly to end any human rights violations occurring on our docks.”

Ing believes that, while the fishing vessels operate in federal waters in accordance to federal law, vessel operators conduct business under a license with the State of Hawaii, therefore subjecting them to State regulation. Ing’s letter asks whether “the (reported) acts…constitute a restraint of trade or other anti-competitive practices prohibited by HRS§480-13.”

Ing explains: “the first step is requesting an Attorney General’s opinion, which he is required to publish under a legislator’s request. An affirmative answer will likely lead to an injunction that will halt any labor or business violations. A non-affirmative answer illuminates the need for bill that clarifies our ‘anti-competitive practices’ statute, which I am committed to pursue”

Ing believes this issue highlights a larger issue of the abuse of undocumented workers.

“Without any legal recourse, millions of undocumented workers suffer through starvation wages and inhumane work environments across America,” Ing said. “It’s an issue too often ignored by mainstream politics. We can all agree that any abuse of any human being has no place in our Aloha State. These investigations reveal why we must act now.”

Satellite Image Shows New Breakout on Lava Flow Field

This satellite image was captured on Thursday, September 8, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite. The image is provided courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Over the past few weeks, lava on the episode 61g flow has been mostly confined to subsurface lava tubes, with little activity on the surface. This image shows that a new surface breakout has appeared near the base of the pali, with lava extending about 1 km (0.6 miles) onto the coastal plain. This breakout is fed by lava breaking out of the lava tube onto the surface. Small amounts of surface lava (red pixels) are also present at the ocean entry, where lava is spilling into the water.

Kilauea’s Lava Lake at High Level

On Wednesday evening (September 7), the lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit reached a high level, about 8 m (26 feet) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. This panorama shows the former Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook (closed since 2008 due to volcanic hazards) at the far left.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Jaggar Museum, visible on the skyline in the upper right part of the photo, is a popular destination in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park for viewing the lava lake activity and spattering lake surface.

A closer look at Kīlauea's summit lava lake on Wednesday evening, around 6:30 p.m., when the lake was just 8 meters (26 feet) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

A closer look at Kīlauea’s summit lava lake on Wednesday evening, around 6:30 p.m., when the lake was just 8 meters (26 feet) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

UH Manoa Student Wins EPA Grant to Study Coral Resiliency

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced more than $1.6 million in Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowships for 13 students at universities in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The fellowships, which will allow these students to further their education while conducting environmental research, were part of over $6 million awarded to 52 students across the nation.

“Through EPA’s funding, the STAR fellows will pursue innovative research projects while attaining advanced academic degrees,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The work these students are doing is inspirational, and will help address environmental challenges in fields such as atmospheric chemistry, green energy, hydrogeology and toxicology.”

Since 1995, the STAR fellowship program has awarded nearly 2,000 students a total of more than $65 million in funding. Recipients have engaged in innovative research opportunities, with some becoming prominent leaders in environmental science. This year’s STAR fellows are poised to become the next generation of environmental professionals who can make significant impacts in environmental science and beyond.

EPA Grant

University of Hawaii, Manoa: Christopher Wall

Project Title: The Dynamic Interaction of Nutrient Pollution and Seawater Temperature on Reef Corals: Is Nutrient Enrichment Undermining Coral Resilience?

Award Amount: $132,000

Objective:

Local nutrient pollution and global ocean warming threaten coral reefs by disrupting the symbiosis between reef corals and their symbiont algae (Symbiodinium spp.). Nutrient pollution alters the exchange of metabolites between host and symbiont and can increase the sensitivity of corals to thermal stress, thereby affecting the ability for corals to respond to regional and global environmental change. This research will use field and laboratory experiments to test for nutrient and temperature effects on the performance, bleaching, and nutrition of reef corals and Symbiodinium to offer insights on the response of corals to changing environmental conditions.

Approach:

I will use carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (d13C, d15N) to test for effects of temperature and nutrient on reef coral nutrition and the autotrophic performance of genetically distinct Symbiodinium types. In a field experiment I will test for nutrient effects on the nutritional modes of corals across a gradient of human impacted reefs in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. I will then design a laboratory experiment to test for nutrient and temperature effects on the fixation, exchange, and storage of autotrophic metabolites among coral species and Symbiodinium clades. Data will be used to construct mass balanced carbon budgets, stable isotope mixing models, and trophic relationship for corals under changing environmental conditions.

Expected Results:

The interaction of nutrient pollution and temperature stress affects the function of the coral-algae symbiosis and shapes ecological outcomes for coral reefs. Nutrient pollution destabilizes reef corals by favoring the retention of autotrophic metabolites by the symbiont at the expense of the host, while temperature stress disrupts symbiont photosynthesis and drastically reduces autotrophic nutrition available to the host. Corals display alternative strategies for coping with environmental stress, including shifting modes of nutrition (autotrophy vs. heterotrophy) and associating with stress tolerant and functionally distinct Symbiodinium partners. However, the capacity to be flexible in nutrient acquisition or in symbiont partnerships is not shared among all coral taxa. By evaluating nutritional flexibility and autotrophic performance among reef corals and symbiont types it will be possible to identify whether nutrient and temperature effects on reef corals are conserved or dependent on species or host-symbiont combinations.