Thursday, September 22, 2016
Hawaii residents petition state agency for transparency in fishing licenses
by Larry Geller
Attached is a press release announcing the filing of a petition to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to require transparency in fishing licenses. It is intended to break through the veil of secrecy surrounding hiring and working conditions on Hawaii fishing vessels and reform the licensing process.
[Disclosure: I am one of the signers of the petition.]
A copy of the petition is attached below.
Hawaii Residents Across State
Petition DLNR to Amend Rules
To Require Transparency in Fishing Licenses
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Petitioners File to Amend Rules Requiring Transparency
in Longline Fishing Licensing
September 22nd 2016
Honolulu, HI – Residents of O'ahu, Maui and the Big Island have filed a petition for the DLNR to amend its rules to require commercial marine license applicants/holders to disclose: (1) if they are ineligible for landing privileges in Hawaii, (2) if applicant is an owner or captain, to list the names of all licensees under their hire/command subject to the "detained on board" deportation order, (3) citizenship of a licensee who is ineligible for landing privileges, and (4) the complete name and contact information for any person who assists an applicant/licensee who does not read English and cannot, without assistance, certify that they understand the terms of the license.
These additions to the commercial marine license application rule will provide the public, consumers, fish buyers and state and federal regulatory agencies transparency and immediate informational access to ship that utilize the recently publicized "detained on board" deportation order scheme where fishermen who work for Hawaii longline fishing companies are prohibited from coming ashore when docked in Hawaii's harbors and the boat owner/captain holds the travel documents of such workers.
Last week, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case stated in a widely reported press release: "While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible."
Kathryn Xian of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery in Honolulu, states: "What is lacking in recent efforts, to give these worker basic labor rights, is transparency. These longstanding and pervasive exploitative labor practices can't simply be solved by a contract, when workers don't have any status or access to justice. Furthermore, local consumers deserve to know how their purchased product arrives to their dinner tables so that they can make an informed decision on whether to buy into such an industry. This proposed rule change would help accomplish this."
Karen Chun of Maui said: "If the DLNR feels the eye color of the licensee is important enough to require to be disclosed on the license application, they can ask meaningful questions that will help both the public and labor regulators identify which licensees engage in the immoral ' detained on board' deportation order scheme."
Larry Geller of Honolulu said: "Every applicant is required to certify that they read the terms of the application yet we now know that many of these fishermen who are held prisoner on these boats have very limited English skills. The person that is assisting them in filling out these applications should also disclose their involvement and certify that they have faithfully translated the terms of the license."