Sydney Ross Singer… More on the Mangroves


There is urgent news about the case regarding the use of the poison, HABITAT, for mangrove eradication on the Big Island.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has amended the label for HABITAT to prohibit its use in marine or estuarine areas.

EPA did this in response to a risk assessment that was explicit on the need for this label change/prohibition. They informed the registrant (BASF) last August. The poisoning was done months after this prohibition on its use in marine and estuarine areas went into effect.

Basically, this prohibition means no use of this poison is allowed below the high water mark. Mangroves at Wai Opae Marine Life conservation District, Paki Bay, Pohoiki (Isaac Hale Beach Park), and Onekahakaha Beach Park, which have all been targets for this poisoning, are below the high water mark.

The use of poison to kill mangroves is an experiment in finding a cheaper way to eradicate than removal by hand or machinery. Once poisoned, the dead trees are left to rot in place, clearly cheaper than removal, but damaging and blighting the environment and creating a health and safety threat to the public and to endangered species known to frequent the area.

Secondary impacts of using this powerful herbicide in these sensitive shoreline areas were not considered, since no environmental assessment was done for this experiment. Results show that native fish populations dramatically declined following the use of this poison to kill 20 acres of mangroves at Wai Opae Marine Life Conservation District in 2008-2009. That project was funded, in part, by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Malama o Puna must be told to CEASE AND DESIST with this poison experiment with the State’s sensitive shoreline conservation lands. A citizen suit was filed in February because:

  • There was no Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement for this poisoning, in violation of the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA);
  • There were no public comments allowed for this poisoning;
  • The use of poison to kill mangrove trees is an admitted experiment, constituting “original research”;
  • The use of poison to kill mangroves degrades water quality and is a public health threat, and no signage has been posted warning the public that the areas has been poisoned;
  • The poison used, an herbicide called Habitat, is not labeled for use on mangroves and is prohibited for use in marine and estuarine areas;
  • Endangered species are known to live in the areas being poisoned and are threatened by this use of poison and loss of mangrove habitat. Fish counts are significantly lower since the poisoning;
  • The mangroves being poisoned are not being removed from the area and are being left in place to rot, creating a blighted landscape, a public nuisance, and water quality degradation;
  • There are numerous governmental agencies that have partnered in this project and have allowed it to proceed without statutorily required permits, such as a Conservation District Use Permit and SMA Major permit;

There was no other way to stop this poisoning than to bring suit.

The lawsuit was removed from the State Circuit Court of the Third Circuit to Federal District Court by the Defendant US Fish and Wildlife, which is funding this mangrove poisoning experiment. The US District Court granted Fish and Wildlife’s request for sovereign immunity, dismissed the federal government, and remanded the case back to the State Third Circuit Court.

To see the EPA amendment to the Habitat label prohibiting its use in marine areas, go to: Click the item for August, 25, 2009.

For more information about the lawsuit, with pictures, go to

Sydney Ross Singer

One Response

  1. Dear Sydney, just a note of support and thanks for all that you are doing in exposing the clear ignorant and blatant stupidity in this suicidal environmental destruction. Are there any benefits from the mangrove to our island? Are not avocados, mangoes, bananas, papayas, etc, even humans considered invasive to Hawaii?????

    Mahalo, Richard

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