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Congress urged to help Hawaii fishermen confined to boats

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Tuna caught by foreign fishermen aboard American boats were lined up at the Honolulu Fish Auction at Pier 38 on March 23. Experts and advocates are urging Congress to improve conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, following an Associated Press investigation that found the men have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections.

WASHINGTON » Experts and advocates are urging Congress to improve conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, following an Associated Press investigation that found the men have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections.

The AP report found commercial fishing boats in Honolulu employ men from impoverished Asian nations who catch ahi tuna and other seafood sold nationwide. A legal loophole allows them to work on U.S-flagged boats without visas as long as they don’t set foot on shore.

Mark Lagon, a scholar at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, said the fishermen are treated like modern-day slaves.

He and other speakers at a congressional forum today urged Congress to close the loophole that allows workers to stay on the boats without coming ashore.

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  • This story has gotten so out of control, it’s become absurd. These guys would be earning no money for their families, if not fishing, and to have a couple of women judge this lifestyle through the eyes of spoiled American women, is completely ridiculous, but becoming so ‘in vogue’.

    • I totally disagree, and, recommend you take up fishing as a job so you can also see the inhumane way these people are treated.
      Try take a walk in their shoes, then come back and give us a more realistic view of what is happening.

      • Having fished in Hawaii for nearly 40 years, I feel confident in saying: You have no idea what you’re talking about. You read a story, promoted by two women who didn’t interview anyone. You view this content through the eyes of an American, and bring with you all the spoils you find in life every day. Theirs’ is a different life. It’s not yours’.

        • You fished as a “Free Man” who could come and go as you please. You have no clue what it would be to basically live and work as an “Indentured Servant” with little time for sleep. Constantly being told what to do, living in squalor.

          Could you spend a year stuck on a small ship, substandard food, shower facilities, sleeping arrangements? I doubt it. Whining in no time.

          Clearly you failed to fully read and understand the article, no real clue as to what is going on.

          Fortunately smarter people will come together and help those stuck on the fishing ships, give them a more respectable working life, some basic rights.

    • These are not Hawaii fishermen. These are impoverished foreigners whose poverty is rooted in their greagreatgreatgreat..parents who producedproducedproduced children irresponsible to the point of overpopulation and who still produce more kids. Throw them out back to the lands they collectively ruined and give them a lifetime of contraceptives. Dah!

  • If they were not kidnapped at their home country then perhaps an education initiative of probable working conditions would have more long term benefits than creating a new class on entitlements at taxpayer expense. If you teach a man not to fish he will starve forever.

  • No help for these foreign fishermen. If they don’t like it, tell them to swim back to their homelands. It is my understanding the the majority of the fish caught by the fishing boats that these foreigners are on are exported to Japan, U.S. mainland, and other foreign countries. No wonder fresh fish prices on Oahu are outrageously high.

    • You forget the time locals were recruited to work on the cruise ships going inter island, around the area. They were well aware of the working and living conditions, signed on, said they were up to the task.

      In the news how within days of embarking on their first cruise these weak willed Americans were crying about how hard they were expected to work. Crying about everything, unable to cope, jumping ship and demanding a free trip back home.

      Meantime those from countries like the Philippines, Thailand, others, told the soft and undisciplined Americans to “Suck it up Buttercup. Do your jobs and quit whining.”

      http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Apr/18/bz/bz04a.html
      America’s weakest generation. So laughable.

  • In my opinion, I say send the foreigners home, hire locals, and treat them like real employees. Don’t believe the bull crap about the fish availability being hurt. The only people prospering from this practice is the greedy boat owners. And if they don’t like having to treat their employees fairly instead of employing slave labor, then THEY can pack up and leave. We have plenty of competent local fisherman to supply the local demand. The problem arises when the businesses start to turn their focus to the export market and make that their priority, and the local market becomes second priority. Sure it’s all about the money. In reality, how much of Hawaii’s economy depends on the fish export market when only a handful of people are prospering from it?

        • I know people like that as well. Problem is, those men expect to be paid a living wage. They got rent to pay and kids to support. I do not want to hear about jobs only slaves from third world countries will do when the American employer will only pay third world wages. I agree, BUILD THE WALL! END H2B VISAS! STOP UNDERCUTTING AMERICAN WORKERS!

      • Remember back in 2004 locals were recruited to work on the cruise ships going inter island, around the area. They were well aware of the working and living conditions, signed on, said they were up to the task.

        They were not. Jumped ship within days of sailing, unable to handle the work, too soft.

        Meantime those from countries like the Philippines, Thailand, others, told the soft and undisciplined Americans to “Suck it up Buttercup. Do your jobs and quit whining.”

        http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Apr/18/bz/bz04a.html
        America’s weakest generation. So laughable.

  • They need to eliminate that federal loophole. If the Hawaii fishing boats want crews, they need to do what every other fishing boat in the U.S. does and that is create a crew that is 75% U.S. citizens. We can always buy and ship in fish from mainland boats. Or, we can even buy fish from foreign boats. The U.S. keeps criticizing other countries about human trafficking and human rights – time to fix our own problems in these areas.

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