October 31, 2016

ICYMI: New Hirono Bill to Protect Workers in Hawaii’s Longline Fleet

Senator Mazie K. Hirono will introduce a bill in the new Congress to protect foreign fishermen from exploitation and preserve Hawaii’s longline fishing industry. The Senator laid out her principles for this bill in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

“Hirono’s bill would give the fishermen temporary work visas designed to afford the workers wage protections, safe working conditions and contract enforcement provisions, similar to those afforded other foreign workers with comparable visas.

“The visas would allow the fishermen to leave their vessels when docked in Honolulu, as well as travel in and out of Honolulu Airport. Currently, the workers aren’t permitted to fly into the country in order to board the American boats. Instead, captains pick up the workers at foreign locations, such as Samoa.

“The legislation is aimed at protecting the fishermen while also preserving the longline industry. Hirono has also been working with federal agencies to come up with nonlegislative fixes to the fishermen’s plight.

“‘I am committed to protecting foreign fishermen from exploitation and preserving Hawaii’s longline fishing industry,’ Hirono said in a statement Saturday. ‘I am reviewing relevant laws and regulations and working with federal agencies, stakeholders and other knowledgeable sources to develop legislation that will accomplish these goals.’”