Saturday, February 11, 2017


#Fail again—a second AP story notes that abuses continue in the Hawaii long lines fishing fleet

by Larry Geller

2017-02-10 ap tweet

Once again, the Associated Press reminds the world that Hawaii’s fishing fleet is made up not of local residents dedicated to maintaining a safe and sustainable fishery. In fact, the fishermen are largely from foreign countries without even the language ability to read the words on the fishing licenses they are gifted with by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The AP story refers to laws that are being broken. But it doesn’t provide details.

The most relevant would be this one:

§189-5  Aliens not admitted to United States.  It is unlawful for any person who has not been lawfully admitted to the United States to engage in taking marine life for commercial purposes in the waters of the State.  The term "United States" as used in this section, includes the several states and the territories and possessions of the United States. [L 1929, c 187, §7; RL 1935, §336; RL 1945, §1260; am L 1947, c 39, §6; am L 1955, c 96, §6; RL 1955, §21-115; HRS §189-5; am L 1981, c 85, §82]

The cryptic stuff at the end indicates that the law was first passed in 1929, that is 1929 Session Laws of Hawaii, Act 187, Section 7. It was recodified as Section 336 of the Revised Laws of Hawaii of 1935 and amended a couple of times. This law is about as solid as it can get.

Other likely state and federal violations involve the need to provide translators or translations. How can our fisheries be protected when the fishermen can’t read the rules for licensing?

The AP story is in newspapers all over the country.

What will it take for Governor Ige and his DLNR to obey the laws that would prevent the fishermen from being exploited?

Also: when can people trust that the Hawaii fish they are eating is not the product of trafficked labor? Only when Hawaii begins to enforce its long-standing laws so that foreign fishermen cannot be abused or trafficked in its fishing fleet.

That this has gone on for so long should be an embarrassment. What are they waiting for? A third or a fourth AP story? Those will follow for sure if enforcement of Hawaii’s laws does not begin.

The world learns the truth about Hawaii’s fishing industry

The story is literally everywhere. Throwing a dart at the map, here are the intro paragraphs from the Pueblo Chieftain:

HONOLULU — Lacking visas and confined to their vessels, about 700 foreign fisherman work without most basic labor protections just a few miles from Waikiki’s white sand beaches, sometimes paid less than $1 an hour to catch premium tuna and swordfish sold at some of America’s most upscale grocery stores and restaurants.

Hawaii authorities may have been violating their own state law for years by issuing commercial fishing licenses to thousands of foreign workers who were refused entry into the country, The Associated Press has found.


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