Merrie Monarch Festival attendees urged not to transport ‘ohi‘a

Merrie Monarch Festival attendees are urged to not transport ‘ohi‘a in order to prevent the further spread of rapid ‘ohi‘a death.

Rapid ‘ohi‘a death, or ROD, is caused by a fungal pathogen that aggressively targets and destroys native ‘ohi‘a forests. Because there is no known cure for ROD, preventing the spread of the fungus is crucial to mitigating the disease.


But with hundreds of travelers expected to arrive on the Big Island for the Merrie Monarch Festival, the state Department of Agriculture has reminded residents and visitors that there are quarantine restrictions preventing the transport of ‘ohi‘a to or from the Big Island.

This includes flowers, leaves, seeds, stems, twigs, cuttings, untreated wood, logs, soil and more.

“We are glad that the Merrie Monarch Festival is back in full force and everyone can enjoy the week of festivities,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, in a statement Monday. “However, it is important that travelers not take any part of the ‘ohi‘a off the island to prevent further spread of rapid ‘ohi‘a death. Agricultural inspectors will be stationed at the airports in Hilo and Kona to collect any ‘ohi‘a material which will be respectfully returned to the native forests on Hawaii Island. It takes all of us to protect Hawaii.”

Violating the quarantine is a misdemeanor offense and carries penalties including a fine between $100 and $10,000. A second offense committed within five years of the first incurs fines between $500 and $25,000.

Monday’s notice came on the same day as the Department of Land and Natural Resources announced that ROD has been detected for the first time in the Wai‘anae mountains on Oahu, bringing the number of confirmed ROD cases on that island to 12.

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