Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Public Policy Analysis

Second Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

William Ascher

Reader 2

W. Bowman Cutter

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Keeping out invasive species may, upon first review, seem like a trivial environmental cry from ecologists and deep environmentalists; a belated wish to return to an undeveloped world where nature was pristine. However invasive species create problems that impact all of us and can have far more severe consequences than changing a stunning landscape. These problems are heightened in islands like Hawaii, where the fragile ecosystems have developed over centuries of evolution and adaptation. The introduction of a disease-carrying mosquito can put the people of Hawaii at risk to many vector-born illnesses and create an epidemic, taking human life. The introduction of invasive plants that outcompete native plants for water can reduce the water available for homes and businesses, as well as restrict the flow in native streams, putting indigenous fish at risk. The loss of coral reef from alien algae or the arrival of snakes may lead to significant drops in tourism, which for Hawaii is one of the largest facets of the economy. Introduced non-native species tend to outcompete the relatively sheltered island species, therefore leading to a decline in biodiversity. In fact, this process of decimation and change in many locations has already begun, with the native forests confined to small swathes of isolated upper slopes of the volcanoes. Rates of extinction are increasing, costs to eradicate invasive species are rising, and still the silent invasion continues, with an onslaught of species accompanying each boat or plane. Because the presence of these unwanted species can significantly damage and alter the ecology of the Hawaiian Islands, there needs to be a targeted effort to mitigate the worst effects. 1 Invasive species is defined throughout this thesis as defined by Bill Clinton in Executive Order 13112 in 1999: "Invasive species" means an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. 11 It is important to outline the ways in which invasive species can harm Hawaii, as well as provide a detailed study of the scale of the problem. This thesis will examine several research questions surrounding best practices for invasive species management policy in Hawaii.2 The ensuing chapters will seek to answer a variety of questions. What gaps exist in this policy, if any? What measures can be taken to prevent damages from invasive species in Hawaii? What role can government agencies play in preventing the negative consequences of these alien species on the people and land of Hawaii? What should the government role look like? What pathways introduce harmful nonnative species? What are the best practices for managing invasive species internationally?


Hawaii, Pacific Studies