Tag Archives: foreign fishermen

Bill introduced allowing Hawaii’s foreign fishermen onshore

Hundreds of foreign fishermen currently confined to vessels in Honolulu for years at a time would be allowed to come ashore when they dock under legislation introduced Thursday in Congress. The Sustainable Fishing Workforce Protection Act offers workplace protections a year after an Associated Press investigation found that Hawaii’s commercial fishing fleet is crewed by about 700 men who are never allowed off their boats, even when they come into the Honolulu Harbor to unload their catch. Sen. Mazie Hirono, “This bill provides necessary protections for foreign fishermen and ensures the continued viability of Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet, which is important to our culture,” click here to read the story 11:24

Hawaii bill would ban licenses for some foreign fishermen

A bill in the Hawaii Legislature aims to change rules for how fishing licenses are issued to foreign crew members that make up the majority of the state’s commercial fleet. Now, boat owners or captains bring foreign crew members’ passports and customs documents to a state agency to get their licenses – without the fishermen present. A federal legal loophole allows foreign fishermen to work off the coast of Hawaii, but they are technically not allowed to enter the country. The bill would require anyone seeking a commercial fishing license in Hawaii to appear in person. State Sen. Karl Rhoads says he wants to change the law so people who are not permitted to enter the U.S. cannot get a license to fish on American-flagged boats sailing from Honolulu. The Hawaii Longline Association opposed the bill, saying the industry is already regulated and additional requirements are unnecessary. Read the story here  16:00

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

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

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