Foreign flora and fauna have been taking root in the Hawaiian archipelago since the first people arrived on its shores.
In the 1,500 years since, Hawaii has become one of the world’s top three hotspots for alien species: More than 1,000 plants, 57 freshwater species, 15 mammals and 3,000 arthropods. Then there are the species in Hawaii’s coastal waters.
Some are invasive, directly or indirectly killing off native species or their habitats and compromising the agricultural ecosystem. Others are benign or not fully understood. And while the state pushes for more self-sufficiency in food production to relieve the reliance on imports, the problem of invasives could be an opportunity for Hawaii residents to lend a hand — by eating them.
Hawaii’s recent history of introducing species is laced with good intentions and negligence. Mongoose were introduced to control rat populations, taape as a food source to relieve the strain on ehu and onaga fish stocks. In both cases, the introduced species became malignant.