Category Archives: Western Pacific

US tuna boats seek level playing field

tuna boat samoaGoing into next week’s meeting of the organization called the Western and Central Pacific fisheries Commission, aka Tuna Commission, the body which regulates the fishing of tuna in the Pacific Ocean, US tuna boats are hoping for better outcomes than what has been achieved in the best. The meeting takes place December 5-9 in Nadi, Fiji and American Samoa is sending several representatives. While much focus has been on the canneries and helping them stay competitive and keep them here, the tuna boats that deliver the fish which are processed and canned at the Starkist and Samoa Tuna Processors plants, have not received much attention. Regulations initiated by the Tuna Commission and the United States in recent years have hit the US tuna boats hard and subsequently affected the supply of fish for the local canneries. Read the story here 12:02

Pew: Pacific Bluefin Tuna Management Proposal Will Not End Overfishing

pacific bluefin tunaThe Pacific bluefin tuna has been overfished for decades and has seen population declines of 97 percent, but a management proposal to be considered by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) would not improve the status quo and must be rejected by member governments, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The WCPFC, which oversees the tuna fisheries of the western Pacific Ocean, meets here Dec. 5-9 to discuss management measures for Pacific bluefin. Management of the stock has long been directed by the Northern Committee, a WCPFC subcommittee; in past years, the committee’s recommendations have been approved by the full Commission with little review or discussion, much to the detriment of Pacific bluefin. (according to the Pew Charitable Trust). Amanda Nickson, who directs Pew’s global tuna conservation campaign, issued the following statement on why the WCPFC should reject its current proposal:  Read the rest here 12:03

Will Trump Be Able To Undo Papahanaumokuakea, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments?

barry-obamaIn the months leading up to the Nov. 8 election, President Barack Obama signed a series of proclamations to dramatically increase the amount of land and water that is federally protected from commercial fishing, mining, drilling and development. On Aug. 24, he established a nearly 90,000-acre national monument in the Katahdin Woods of Maine. Two days later, Obama expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands by 283 million acres, making it the world’s largest protected area at the time. And on Sept. 15, he created the first national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, protecting more than 3 million acres of marine ecosystems, seamounts and underwater canyons southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It’s mostly speculation at this point as to what Trump will do but groups on both sides of the issue are keeping a watchful eye on things. Advocates for commercial fishing interests on the East Coast have started nudging policymakers to consider what changes the next administration could make. But West Coast and Hawaii industry groups are still gathering information and developing plans. Read the rest here 08:47

American Samoa push to remove marine reserves

aumua-amata-radewagenAmerican Samoa’s US Congresswoman, Aumua Amata Radewagen, is pushing for the incoming US Government to overturn President Obama’s decision to create marine monuments in the Pacific. The Remote Islands Monuments comprise the largest marine protected area in the world and encompass commercial fishing areas that American Samoa’s fishing industry regard as vital for its survival. Auma met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Thursday. She said she made clear the need for President-elect Donald Trump to rescind President Obama’s executive orders creating and expanding the marine reserves. “So these repeals will be a huge win for us in American Samoa and our fishing community. And I know that the Governor and I are united to reverse these misguided designations.” Link 11:31

Fishermen hope Trump will end Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument

donald-trumpNew England fishermen who opposed President Barack Obama’s creation of the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument are now hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will abolish it, shrink it or allow some fishing inside it. Environmentalists view the monument as a way to sustain important species, as well as research and reduce the toll of climate change. “We take the monument very seriously and any threats to it are threats, I think, against the national interest,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation. “We would take appropriate action if and when anything happened, including making a compelling scientific case to the president for the monument.” It’s unclear whether Trump could unilaterally undo a marine monument designation. It hasn’t been done before. There’s precedent, however, to modify a monument. Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, also in August, to create the world’s largest oceanic preserve at nearly 600,000 square miles. Read the story here 15:45

Coast Guard conducts boardings, returns vessels to port for safety violations in Hawaii

coast-guard-hawaiiThe crew of the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349) terminated the voyages of the commercial fishing vessels Azure, Capt. Millions III and Capt. Danny for hazardous safety conditions during boardings off Honolulu Harbor in early November. Of the 10 total boardings, the crew terminated the voyages of three fishing vessels and issued 39 notices of violation, including two fisheries violations, two potential marine pollution violations and 35 safety violations. Partnering with the Galveston Island during the boardings were two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents bringing their expansive knowledge and fisheries expertise. Of the three fishing vessels whose voyages were terminated by the Galveston Island crew, the boarding team found multiple discrepancies, including excessive volatile fuel, multiple five-gallon buckets of oily water, oily water in the bilge, lack of a sound-producing device, lack of a record log book for training and drills as well as inoperable bilge and general alarms. In one case, a non-U.S. citizen was found to be serving as master of a U.S. documented vessel.  Read the rest here 20:33

Bill Would Give Temporary Work Visas to Foreign Fishermen

long line vesselsU.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono plans to introduce a bill in Congress to protect foreign fishermen from exploitation. The bill would give fishermen temporary work visas to ensure wage protections and safe working conditions. Hirono said in a statement Monday that the legislation aims to protect the fishermen while preserving the longline industry. She says the visas would allow foreign fishermen to leave their vessels while docked in Honolulu. The proposal follows an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years. A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work, but it exempts them from most basic labor protections. Hirono says she’s also working with federal agencies to find solutions that don’t involve legislation. link 20:13

Successful PNA vessel days scheme

Five years ago managing the PNA fisheries was mostly done with a calculator and pencil, and with data sent by fax or email. Today, the fishery that is generating US$400 million a year to nine Pacific islands is managed by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement’s Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS) that allows managers to know what is taking place in their fishing zone with a tap of their computer keyboards. ‘It provides easy access to fisheries information for increasingly effective management of PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) that governs purse seine fishing in the western and central Pacific,’ said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru, who added that the VDS and the FIMS management tool is also being rolled out for the longline industry. ‘FIMS shows each party’s usage of fishing days and the percentage of days left,’ said Ms. Jack. The PNA Office coordinates this fishing day data with each fishery department in the nine islands using the VDS, including resolving any differences between the national fishery department and the PNA Office in determining fishing day usage. Day-to-day VDS management of fishing day data translates directly into major revenue for each VDS participant. Between 2010 and 2015, revenue to the islands rose from US$60 million to close to US$400 million. Watch the video,Read the story here 11:07

Tuna Vessel Operator Convicted for Oil Discharges Off American Samoa

department-of-justice-logoAn American tuna fishing company that regularly unloaded its catch in American Samoa, was convicted and sentenced today for discharging oil into the South Pacific and for maintaining false records, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia.  The company, Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC, owned the Fishing Vessel F/V Pacific Breeze, a tuna purse seiner that was responsible for the pollution. Pacific Breeze Fisheries admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal dumping of oily bilge water into the waters off American Samoa without the use of required pollution prevention equipment.  These discharges occurred on at least two occasions, in 2014 and 2015, before the vessel brought fish to a cannery in the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Read the rest here 14:11

National Marine Fisheries Service issues annual report on Fisheries of the United States, 2015

noaa nmfs logoThis publication is the annual National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2015. The report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. Information in this report came from many sources. Field offices of NMFS, with the generous cooperation of the coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks, collected and compiled data on U.S. commercial landings and processed fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Sources of other data appearing in this publication are: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Read the press release here, Read the full report here 09:34

Officials say they cannot enforce Hawaii fishing contracts

Federal officials cannot enforce a contract being proposed by the commercial fishing industry as a solution to concerns about foreign fishing crews in Hawaii, leaving the industry responsible for enforcing its own rules. Federal and state officials met with vessel owners, captains and representatives from the fleet Thursday at a pier in Honolulu. The normally private quarterly meeting was opened to media and lawmakers to discuss conditions uncovered in an Associated Press investigation that found some foreign fishermen had been confined to vessels for years. On Wednesday, Hawaii state Rep. Kaniela Ing held a public meeting at the state Capitol on the issue. Ing and other lawmakers pressed representatives from the fishing industry and government agencies about what can be done to increase oversight and improve conditions in the industry. Read the story here 09:31

American Somoa misses out on quota transfer fisheries revenues

Honolulu-Fish-Auction-Bluefin-TunaStatements by the governor’s fisheries advisor at the meeting of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council last week indicate that the territory missed out on an opportunity to earn money from allowing Hawaii to use our quota of big eye tuna catch. During the public comment session which followed a report on American Samoa’s fisheries activities at the Council meeting in Honolulu,  Governor Lolo’s adviser on fisheries, Vaamua Henry Sesepasara, spoke up about the big eye quota transfer. This allows Hawaii longliners to buy unused quota limits for big eye catch of the territories of Guam, Northern Marianas and American Samoa. Vaamua said that the Lolo administration was not aware of the big eye quota transfer which was first carried out in 2011 and 2012 under the Togiola administration. Read the story here 14:12

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Foreign Fishermen Have No Complaints Working On US longline vessels

Federal officials said Thursday they have interviewed dozens of foreign crew members who work on U.S. commercial fishing boats since allegations of labor abuses surfaced, but haven’t found much beyond a few cockroaches. “They had an opportunity to talk to us freely,” said Ferdie Jose, supervisory officer for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “They didn’t voice any complaints.” Jose made the statement at what has traditionally been a private quarterly meeting among commercial fishing vessel owners, law enforcement officers and state and federal officials. It was a marked contrast to one held just a day earlier at the state Capitol, where legislators grilled state officials and fishing industry leaders for nearly three hours in an effort to find ways to improve the working conditions for foreign crew members. Read the story here 09:02

Hawaii lawmakers hold public meeting on foreign fishermen

5808338b8495f-imageA woman who worked as an observer on fishing boats that docked in Honolulu described for Hawaii lawmakers what it was like without toilets, showers or hot water. “You have a cold water deck hose as a shower…the water tastes like iron,” said Ashley Watts, a former observer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Watts’ comments to lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday followed an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years. A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections. Many foreign fishermen have to stay on the boats because they are not legally allowed to enter the United States.  Before the meeting, a group of Hawaii residents and activists rallied outside the state Capitol to call for better conditions for fishermen, demanding an end to what they call unacceptable living and working conditions. Read the story here 13:25

Fight Over Papahanaumokuakea Expansion Isn’t Over

Hawaii’s commercial fishing industry leaders are not finished fighting the fourfold expansion of a U.S. marine monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Now the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which actively opposed the expansion, wants the government to study the potential effects and find ways to alleviate them. “The impacts to the Hawaii fishing and seafood industries and indigenous communities as a result of monument expansion are considerable,” Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr. said in a statement Friday. “The Council will write to the President about these and request the Department of Commerce to mitigate them.” The latest wave of opposition to the monument rolled in earlier this month at the council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee meeting in Honolulu.  New committee member Ray Hilborn, a prominent marine biologist from the University of Washington, railed against large marine protected areas. Read the story here 08:59

Tri Marine: Tuna prices, supply concerns influenced its $70 million cannery cannery closure

Tri Marine Inaugurates Samoa Tuna ProcessorsFluctuating tuna prices, supply issues and other factors outside of the control of Tri Marine International led to the commercial demise of its $70 million cannery in American Samoa, the company said. The Oct. 13 announcement that the plant will cease canning operations as of Dec. 11 putting several hundred jobs in jeopardy came as a result of a series of factors, Bellevue, Washington-based Tri Marine said in a statement to Undercurrent News. “In truth, there were a number of factors outside of our control that influenced this difficult decision — the cost and abundance of tuna raw material in American Samoa, changes in free trade agreements, access to fishing grounds, the appeal of US-produced canned tuna in the market, market demand for higher quality sustainable and traceable tuna products, etc,” the company said. “To point to any one thing over another would miss the complexity of a challenging situation.” Read the story here 16:08

Tri Marine Group announces closure of Samoa Tuna Processors cannery December 11

Employees of Samoa Tuna Processors are learning that the cannery is shutting down indefinitely December 11 due to “adverse business conditions”. The $70 million cannery  was officially opened in January of last year, but only started production  a few months later because of delayed shipping due to industrial action on the west coast. The closure would put close to 1,000 workers out of jobs and send ripple effects throughout the community and also Samoa where the majority of production employees are from. Renato Curto, CEO of the Tri Marine Group said in a  statement, “This is an incredibly difficult decision and one we make with a great deal of reluctance. “Our hearts go out to STP’s employees, suppliers, service providers and everyone else who depends on STP’s operations.” The statement said the challenging economics of canning tuna in American Samoa combined with external factors facing STP make Tri Marine’s private-label focused business model for operating the plant economically unsustainable in today’s market. Tri Marine is currently evaluating alternatives for the facility including outright sale, preferably to a strategic buyer that would minimize job losses. Read the rest here 17:04

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Heads Toward Protection

pacific bluefin tunaThirteen conservation groups and a former National Fisheries biologist petitioned for federal protection for Pacific bluefin tuna, and the marine agency agreed listing may be warranted. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced Tuesday that it will begin a 12-month status review of the iconic fish as the first step in the long process to secure Endangered Species Act protection for the overfished species.  The Center for Biological Diversity, a frequent petitioner and litigator on behalf of imperiled species, was joined by Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club, Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Ocean Foundation, Center for Food Safety, Greenpeace, Mission Blue, Recirculating Farms Coalition, The Safina Center, SandyHook SeaLife Foundation, and Jim Chambers, a retired NMFS biologist, owner of Prime Seafood sustainable seafood restaurant supply company and member of the Seafood Choices Alliance. Read the rest here 08:42

WWF calls for shut down of commercial fishing to save Pacific bluefin tuna

pacific bluefin tunaWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called for the suspension of commercial fishing to save Pacific bluefin tuna because of the inaction of responsible agencies in addressing the decrease in stock. WWF Oceans and Seafood group leader Dr Aiko Yamauchi said members of the Northern Committee (NC) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) have failed to agree to an urgently-needed recovery plan to save Pacific bluefin tuna. WCPFC was established by the Convention for the conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean “Because of the lack of progress and the repeated inaction of the responsible bodies, the Pacific bluefin stock will continue to teeter on the edge of collapse,” Dr Yamauchi said. “We call for a full suspension of commercial fishing of this species until a Pacific-wide rebuilding and management plan has been agreed. Link 14:35

An anti fishing agenda driven article: Overfishing? Hawaii Longliners Want Even More Tuna

long line vesselsIn 2013, Japan, Korea, China, the United States and other countries with an appetite for bigeye tuna agreed to gradually catch less ahi in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean after studies showed they were on track to decimate the species if they did not adjust course. That’s not what the U.S. has done though. A federal rule lets the nation’s longliners, almost all of which are based in Hawaii, extend their quota through agreements with certain Pacific island territories. And now federal fishery managers, longliners and others are mulling ways to haul in even more tuna — potentially twice as much or more — by changing the rules. The agreements — which include payments into a fund for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam or American Samoa to use on development projects — already have the ability to nearly double this year’s U.S. limit of 3,554 tons. Read the story here 10:28

Fishing Industry faces tough times – Sam Parisi

manatthewheelUS Fishermen from all over are feeling the effects of NOAA and conservation groups that are making it very difficult for our fishing fleets on every coast. Every day there is anther obstacle for our fishermen, the most recent on the East Coast. President Obama has designated a large area of Cape Cod, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. I fished those waters back in the late 60,s for whiting and lobster. Fishermen depend on those deep waters for lobsters. Although the President, after up roars from the lobstermen, has given them seven years to vacate, in the end those lobstermen will lose their rich grounds. When does it end?  Every day some one else comes up with a brain storm and there are so many people out there that no idea of the effect, but think it is a good idea to protect whatever, not thinking of the harm to our fishermen. I believe the deck is stacked and our fishermen do not stand a chance to exist. We need help from our political leaders. I have heard over and over “we will help”, with good intentions but the fact remains NOAA holds all the cards. We have no say. We need political leader’s that will stand up to NOAA on our behalf, and follow through. We need help now. Here are the basic problems that need attention. Language written into MSA that would unlock the ironclad grip NOAA has on the “best available science” and accept other independent scientific data. SK Grant money needs to be removed from NOAA. Senator Sullivan of Alaska has such a bill pending and finally our fishermen should not have to pay for monitoring that is NOAA’s responsibility. Thanks for listing. Sam Parisi, Proud to be a fishermen. 19:24

Obama’s new ocean preserves are bad for the environment and for people

obama-becauseWho wants to save the oceans? Short answer: everyone, especially politicians. A less frequently asked question is whether their high-profile efforts always work. Right now, world leaders seem to want to see who can declare the biggest marine protected areas, or MPAs, in their territory. MPAs are kinds of national parks for sea life that extends from ocean surface to ocean floor. Commercial fishing and other undersea ventures are banned in them. They are popping up everywhere. In August, President Obama announced one in the western Pacific Ocean that is 50 per cent bigger than Texas. In September he created another, more modest one off the coast of New England. Britain announced yet another MPA in September around St. Helena Island in the south Pacific. It is half the size of the Lone Star State. In fact, the MPA movement has become a religion with accepted articles of faith that more and bigger are better.  This current obsession is bad for the oceans, bad for the global environment, and bad for people. Consider what the imposition of an MPA can do to the economy and livelihood of local fishers, who are unable to easily pick up and move elsewhere. Some fishermen in New England are warning that they could go out of business as a result of the new Atlantic marine preserve. Read the op-ed here 10:48

What Quota? Hawaii Longliners Are Fishing For Ahi Again

ahi-tuna406x250Hawaii’s longline fishermen are back at sea in search of more ahi after extending their quota limit through an agreement with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The 2016 season had ended early, as it has for the past few years, when the longline fleet in late July hit its 3,554-ton limit for bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific. The deal between Quota Management Inc. President Khang Dang and Northern Marianas Gov. Ralph Torres involves paying the territory $250,000 for 1,000 tons of its 2,000-ton limit. Under the agreement, QMI can assign its rights and obligations to the Hawaii Longline Association, a wholly owned subsidiary of QMI. The association is a nonprofit trade group formed to support the $100 million commercial longline fisheries industry, which includes a fleet of roughly 140 vessels ported in Honolulu. (the author seem to have an axe to grind) Read the story here 09:53

Ushering industrial aquaculture into the Pacific Islands Region EEZ is anything but sustainable

NOAA ScientistRight now, anyone can throw a cage into the open ocean within the Economic Enterprise Zone and begin an aquaculture operation, said Joshua DeMello, of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The beginning of that aquaculture management program for the Pacific Islands Region is in the works, under the eye of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service and in conjunction with Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The entities are preparing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) analyzing the possible environmental impacts of the proposed management program and alternatives. “The purpose of it is to develop a management program to support sustainable, economically sound aquaculture in the Pacific Island Region,” DeMello said. The PEIS process looks at options for permit duration, whether cages should be metal or net pens, and allowable species. But ushering industrial aquaculture into the EEZ is anything but sustainable, poses a threat to the environment and could impact commercial fishing, according to a biologist. Read the story here 20:13

Bill to limit presidential powers to designate monuments

screen_shot_2014-09-26_at_11-11-34_am-0Key US Senators are trying to limit presidential power to designate sweeping national monuments on land and water—an issue that hit home with American Samoa’s fishing industry in the last few years. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have introduced separate bills to curb presidential power under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives the president, sweeping power to designate hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean and millions of acres of land, as national monuments. President Obama established in 2009, and expanded in 2014, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument—the largest marine protected area in the world…covering 370,000 square nautical miles, and encompassing important fishing areas for American Samoa’s fishing industry. Read the rest here 13:57

Fishermen Who Fled Slavery in San Francisco Sue Boat Owner

Two Indonesian fishermen who escaped slavery aboard a Honolulu-based tuna and swordfish vessel when it docked at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf are suing the boat’s owner for tricking them into accepting dangerous jobs they say they weren’t allowed to leave. Attorneys for Abdul Fatah and Sorihin, who uses one name, say in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday that they were recruited in Indonesia seven years ago to work in Hawaii’s commercial fishing fleet without realizing they would never be allowed onshore. They have since been issued visas for victims of human trafficking and are living in the San Francisco area. The lawsuit alleges that San Jose, California, resident Thoai Nguyen, owner and captain of the Sea Queen II, forced Sorihin and Fatah to work up to 20-hour shifts, denied them medical treatment and demanded thousands of dollars if they wanted to leave before their contracts expired. Nguyen did not return calls seeking comment. Read the story here 15:05

For Immediate Release – Hawaii Seafood Council: Hawaii Fishing Industry takes action to protect foreign crew from labor abuse

hawaiiseafood-council-logo-2For Immediate Release Hawaii Seafood Council 1130 N Nimitz Hwy, Suite A263 Honolulu, Hawaii 96817 – Hawaii Longline Fishing Industry takes immediate action to assess and establish controls to protect foreign crew from forced labor and labor abuse. On September 8, 2016, an article was published by the Associated Press (AP) which included allegations of forced labor (slavery), human trafficking and poor working conditions on Hawaii longline fishing vessels that use foreign contracted crewmen. “The industry takes the AP report seriously, is actively assessing the situation and is committed to making certain that if found, forced labor and labor abuse is eliminated from the fishing industry” says Jim Cook, Hawaii fishing industry member and advocate. Read the press release, click here   17:46

Hawaii longline industry creates task force to respond to allegations of human trafficking and poor working conditions.

jim-cook-hawaii-longline-640x420Hawaii longline industry leaders say they have formed a task force and hired an expert on slavery in response to media reports about human trafficking, forced labor and poor working conditions aboard some of their boats. “We’re trying to get a sort of fleet assessment, get our arms around the problem and see where we’re going to take it,” said Jim Cook, who owns several longline fishing boats and serves on the Hawaii Longline Association board of directors. He said Monday that the goal is to weed out the “bad actors,” in part by requiring a universal crew contract that incorporates international norms to address forced labor. That contract is being finalized and should be “ready to rock” in the next couple days, Cook said. The task force also includes John Kaneko, program manager of the Hawaii Seafood Council, Khang Dang, president of Quota Management, and Katrina Nakamura, who was also hired as a consultant to provide guidance to the industry. Read the story here 08:25

Hawaii lawmakers promise reform for confined fishermen

State and federal lawmakers are promising to improve conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, and at least one company has already stopped buying fish from the boats following an Associated Press investigation that found the men have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections. While many men appreciate the jobs, which pay better than they could get back home, the report revealed instances of human trafficking, tuberculosis and food shortages. It also found some fishermen being forced to defecate in buckets, suffering running sores from bed bugs and being paid as little as 70 cents an hour. On Capitol Hill, Hawaii’s congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, all Democrats – said they were exploring legislative solutions after being startled by the findings about the state’s $110 million industry, which ranks fifth among the country’s highest-grossing fisheries. Read the story here 06:54

Hawaii’s Longline Fishing industry pushes back following questions about labor practices

Allegations of harsh treatment of workers in Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet  have made headlines nationally. Now, the industry is defending itself, one day after a grocery store chain stopped buying tuna from Hawaii’s fish auction. There are 140 longline boats and 700 fishermen in Hawaii’s fishing fleet. The undocumented workers’ employment is legal. “It’s a very in-demand job for them,” Hawaii Longline Association president Sean Martin said. University of Hawaii professor Uli Kozok interprets for Indonesian fishermen. He’s heard complaints of physical abuse aboard the boats. “They’re quite a few stories that I’ve heard where fishermen were beaten by the captain or by the first officer,” he said. He said fishermen complain of insufficient food and third-world working conditions. Martin thinks the allegations are unfounded. “It’s a long ways from slave labor and human trafficking,” he said. Read the story here 11:25