(BIVN) – February is Hawai‘i Invasive Species Month, and the people leading the fight against unwelcome pests were recognized in a ceremony held Friday at the Capitol.
Governor David Ige and other elected officials took part in the long-standing recognition of the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Committee Most Valuable Players for 2019. This year, there were 5 individuals and 4 organizations honored.
Awardees were named for each county, and the Hawai‘i island MVP award was presented to Patrick Merritt of the East Hawai‘i Cacao Association. Hawaiʻi DLNR wrote:
The Hawai‘i island MVP award was presented to Patrick Merritt of the East Hawai‘i Cacao Association. As president of the association, Merritt, has focused on promoting cacao and its farmers. When an association member reported a sick tree, Merritt went out to investigate. He captured an insect that was identified by state Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) experts as an Australian longhorn beetle which attacks cacao and other important Hawaiian plants. After learning the beetle’s identification Merritt conducted his own research and then shared information with farmers and other agencies. While there’s not a treatment yet for eliminating this pest, cacao farmers are now vigilant and are trying to trap beetles before they lay eggs.
Other honorees included Maui County MVP Megan Powers, Kaua‘i County MVP Tim Flynn, Oahu MVP Pauline Sato, Business Leader awardee Kamehameha Schools, Greatest Hit awardee Daniel Kapalikūokalani-Maile (for his help in detecting Myoporum thrips on O‘ahu), and the multi-organizational Community Hero awardees Kako‘o ‘Oiwi, Hui o Ko‘olaupoko, and Paepae o He‘eia.