Kilauea Volcano lava eruption may lead to local flower shortage

Local News

From tourism to farming, many industries are taking a big hit because of the eruption.

The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce says hotels, bed and breakfasts, and tour operators are seeing a 50 percent drop in business. 

“The tourists are actually staying away in numbers that high,” said President William Walter. 

But what many don’t know, Walter says, is the impact it has on the floral industry. 

“That’s one example of something you wouldn’t expect has real repercussions on industries and businesses here on the island,” he explained. 

There are hundreds of floral farms and nurseries on the Big Island. 

“When you look at the locally grown product, we supply almost 100 percent of local flower needs in the state of Hawaii,” said Green Point Nursery owner Eric Tanouye.   

Tanouye says if lava continues to erupt, it may cause a flower shortage across the state. 

 “We would hate to see having to import tropical flowers from elsewhere,” said Eric.  

Tanouye says he knows of multiple nurseries that were wiped out by lava. 

Green Point Nursery, based in upper Puna, is still standing, but taking a huge hit. 

The lava has cut off supply to much needed materials to continue the business. Tanouye is worried dangerous sulfur dioxide levels will kill his flowers.     

He and hundreds of fellow Big Island florists sell to supermarkets statewide, and are heavily used by the wedding and hospitality industry.

“If the eruption keeps going, it could continue to take out a lot of these growers. It’s important to east Hawaii island. Whether we ship or export, we bring in 35 million dollars of export revenue into Hawaii Island right now,” explained Tanouye. 

The nursery owner fears other repercussions. 

“It’s a very important revenue for rural areas. A lot of our farms are in rural areas. So employment becomes a concern. When the farms go down and employees don’t have jobs, it’s going to put more stress and demands on the county and state governments,” said Tanouye. 

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