First Christmas Trees Arrive in Honolulu - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

First Christmas Trees Arrive in Honolulu

Gary Nakamatsu Gary Nakamatsu

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! Matson Navigation Company's annual "Christmas Tree Ship" arrived in Honolulu". They traveled 7 days from the Pacific Northwest, only to be given a good shake down.

One by one, crews from the Department of Agriculture open each of the 91 containers looking for any invasive species. It can be tedious but a thorough inspection is necessary to make sure these trees are free of anything that can harm Hawaii's plants.

"We have to open every door but they've been relatively clean so it's been going by real smooth," says Glenn Sakamoto of the Department of Agriculture.

The trees are shaken down, then inspectors comb through the needles looking for things that are moving.

Last year wasps were found on some of the trees, but so far this shipment looks o.k.

"Except for one container, we found a heavy infestation of slugs so we're going to have that identified before a disposition will be made."

Although slugs are not as dangerous as wasps to the environment, they can pose a health problem and make people sick.

This season falling gas prices allow Matson to cut costs and give retailers an early Christmas gift. They hope the savings will be passed on to the consumers.

"We've been able to cut back on fuel surcharges over 23% since September. So a lot of these buyers of Christmas trees got a break in the rates," says Gary Nakamatsu.

In all more than 200 hundred containers will arrive in the islands carrying a total of about 100-thousdand Christmas trees.

The inspection finished up this afternoon. Only 4 containers were held back. 2 for slugs, 1 for insects, and another because of paperwork.

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