HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of hula dancers and fans across the state will convene on the Big Island for the Merrie Monarch Festival next week, but travelers are being asked to pay special attention to quarantine restrictions on the transport of the threatened ohia plant.
The Hawaii Board of Agriculture issued the emergency quarantine in August 2015 to prevent the spread of a serious plant disease called rapid ohia death, which has already destroyed more than 34,000 acres of ohia forests across the Big Island. It has not yet been found on the other islands.
The quarantine restricts the movement of ohia plants and plant parts from the Big Island. Only those with a HDOA-issued permit are allowed to transport these items. Anyone who violates the quarantine rule may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined anywhere from $100 to $10,000. Those who commit a second offense within five years are subject to a fine of anywhere between $500 to $25,000.
The Merrie Monarch runs March 27 through April 2.