New invasive species tax could mean higher shipping prices

Ted Sakamoto
Ted Sakamoto
Ben Gaboya
Ben Gaboya

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Snakes, frogs and other illegal critters. No one wants them in Hawaii and a new state law will help keep them out of our islands, but it'll come at a cost.

It's a $400 million problem and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture says the money to fight invasive species will come from additional taxes on cargo. They're hoping to collect about $6 million. And as with all increased fees, it could have a major impact on our state economy.

This means shipping goods via air cargo will become more expensive, and that additional cost will most likely be passed down from the shipping companies to their customers to eventually consumers.

Ted Sakamoto ships music and media equipment to neighbor islands on a regular basis. Starting next month, it'll get more expensive.

The new invasive species bill that became law this month will require a 50 cent tax on every thousand pounds of goods shipped via air cargo. That additional cost will have a major impact on local businesses.

"I guess it's not really that good," said Sakamoto, who works for Hawaii Media. "It's probably going to affect everybody, so it's probably not going to be a good thing I would think."

Not a good thing for customers who make McDonald's and Starbuck's a regular part of their morning. Their food and coffee are shipped locally to neighbor islands by folks like Ben Gaboya. He says it'll be virtually impossible for companies to absorb the additional cost.

"I guess that sucks," said Gaboya, who works for Golden State Food. "I'm pretty sure it's going to trickle down to the employees from the businesses to us. I don't know how that's going to work but I'm pretty sure that's how it's going to go from us to the employees to the consumers."

With record gas prices and a slowing economy, local companies say this is the last thing they need.

"Do you think it's going to make it tougher for your business?" asked KHNL.

"Sure. Yeah," said Sakamoto. "I don't see any reason why it shouldn't."

"Just hearing about what's going on kind of seems like there is going to be an effect somewhere in the future," added Gaboya.

The Department of Agriculture says the new tax is effective August 1, but they still have to come up with new rules and regulations. So it may be a few months before the increase hits Hawaii consumers.

The Sierra Club of Hawaii says the new tax is necessary to protect our islands from invasive species.