Governor brings back ten agricultural inspectors

By Mark Carpenter

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)- Governor Neil Abercrombie approved the hiring of 10 agricultural inspectors Wednesday.

The announcement comes in the wake of a string of incidents in which illegal animals were either reported or turned in.

According to Plant Quarantine Branch Manager Carol Okada, the hiring of the inspectors will be very beneficial.

"It will certainly help. We have a ways to go, but it is certainly a good start," said Okada. "We'll have a presence at the airports that is a major deterrent from people bringing it (illegal animals) in the first place."

Currently, there are 50 agricultural inspectors statewide, which is a dramatic decrease from 2009 in which there were over 90.

According to the Plant Quarantine branch, there were over 660 interceptions of invasive species at the Honolulu International Airport from July to December in 2009.

However, after severe layoffs, there were only 87 interceptions during the same time period in 2010.

All 10 positions are being restored after they were laid off two years ago.

"These first ten are under a recall and the reason we are doing that under this recall is that they left as inspector 3's so that means that they are journeymen. They are ready to go out very quickly," said Okada.

The inspectors will be stationed only on O'ahu, mostly at Honolulu Harbor and Honolulu International Airport.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All Rights Reserved.