An economic approach to assessing import policies designed to prevent the arrival of invasive species: the case of Puccinia psidii in Hawai‘i

Since its first documented introduction to Hawai‘i in 2005, the rust fungus Puccinia psidii has already severely damaged Syzygium jambos (Indian rose apple) trees and the federally endangered Eugenia koolauensis (nioi). Fortunately, the particular strain has yet to cause serious damage to Metrosideros polymorpha (‘ōhi‘a). However, the introduction of more virulent strains and the genetic evolution of the current strain are still possible. Since the primary pathway of introduction is Myrtaceae plant material imported from outside the state, potential damage to ‘ōhi‘a can be minimized by regulating those high-risk imports. We discuss the economic impact on the state’s florist, nursery, landscaping, and forest plantation industries of a proposed rule that would ban the import of non-seed Myrtaceae plant material and require a 1-year quarantine of seeds.

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