HONOLULU (KHON2) — Since the beginning of the fiscal year, records show that 124 shipments were issued Emergency Action Notifications (EANs) for orchid cut flowers by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Hawaii. The majority of rejected shipments were due to the interception of quarantine pests.
Intercepted pests included ones from the families of Hemiptera, Isoptera, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. Another six shipments were rejected for failing to meet import requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Last month, several lei stands at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport told KHON2 that their orchid lei were confiscated. Watanabe Floral was also dealing with the same issue.
“Tens of thousands of lei have already been disposed of and thrown away, and that will not be able to be made up,” Monty Pereira, Watanabe Floral GM & Sales and Marketing Director, said on May 3.
On Thursday, June 9, Pereira told KHON2 that they’ve seen an improvement since then — at least in the last 10 days — of the number of confiscations.
“There are still shortages of lei overall, but the issues with the suppliers not able to have their product clear Customs/Agriculture seems to have improved,” he said.
He clarified that Watanabe Floral doesn’t directly bring in the lei and orchid products from Asia that were being confiscated.
“Our lei suppliers and their farms in Asia do, and they are the ones that have had the most losses during this time,” Pereira said.
Since Oct. 1, 2021, Honolulu CBP reported to APHIS receiving 2,862 shipments of orchids (Aranthera, Dendrobium, Mokara, Oncidium, Vanda), including 2,857 from Thailand and five from Taiwan. Rejected shipments that were issued EANs included 108 on Dendrobium and 16 on Mokara.
The APHIS protects Hawaiian agriculture, including the state’s orchid industry, and natural flora from harmful pests and diseases by regulating the importation of plants and plant products into the U.S.
“A single outbreak of an exotic plant pest or disease could have a devastating impact on Hawaii’s food supply and natural resources,” Lucero Hernandez, APHIS public affairs specialist, told KHON2.
APHIS works closely with CBP as they conduct Honolulu port-of-entry inspections to enforce regulations.
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A spokesperson with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture said they are not seeing increased rejections of flower shipments from within the U.S.