September 25, 2016, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Carroll's guest is attorney Mike Ostendorp. They talk about the recent Associated Press article published by the StarAdvertiser regarding commercial fishing in Hawaii, entitled "Floating Prisons". Some people are saying the article is unfair and inaccurate. Back in 2000 Carroll researched the fishing industry regarding environmental, human, and
concerns. This year he was interviewed by a writer of the Associated Press article, but his comments were mostly disregarded. Carroll's point was the issue is political. The politicians, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the United States Coast Guard, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have known about, and supported, the situation of foreign fishermen on local boats for many years. In Carroll's opinion it is not slavery, and Carroll told the AP reporter why. Carroll believes the AP article was very one-sided and agenda driven, and now Carroll and Mike tell us why.
A caller from North Carolina talks about his father-in-law, a fishing boat owner, being sued by a couple of fishermen for human trafficking after the fishermen left his boat. The caller talks about conditions aboard the boats. If a fisherman wants to go home, he just needs to walk off the boat and contact a government official. The two fishermen who are suing left the boat.
Mike Ostendorp describes the AP story as written to the point of dishonesty. For example, Ostendorp tells us the boat pictured on the front page of the StarAdvertiser was not the boat involved in the story about the San Francisco fishermen. The National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) observers log comments about the boats they are on, noting problem boats as well as good boats. Each of the crew members has a cell phone to stay
in touch with their family and others, including customs agents. If something is reported, the customs agent immediately investigates, and the boat captain could lose his ability to hire foreign fishermen. The fishermen have contracts, and when they come to Hawaii their contracts and passports are checked by Customs. If they do not have a contract, Customs sends them back home. The Department of Land and Natural Resources knows who is aboard each boat, because they charge a licensing
fee for each foreign fisherman aboard the vessel and they keep a copy of each foreign crew member's passport.
Ostendorp says this is nothing but an agenda-driven article, and many of those interviewed were misquoted. The boats are not "floating prisons". Fishing is extremely hard work, and is considered one of the most dangerous jobs to have. Just watch the hit TV show "Deadliest Catch". And, what
about the many local fishermen on the boats? Precautions are taken to protect the workers. Ostendorp says the biggest problem with the article is it is biased and one-sided. Not only that, it only blames the boat owners, letting everyone else off the hook, from politicians to government agencies. The authors interviewed many people, but it appears they did not publish anything that contradicted what they wanted to say.
The article has had its impact, but it is only on the fishing boats and fishermen, not the legal system. What is being done is considered legal, is tolerated, and everyone knows that it is occurring. Ostendorp notes, prior to 9/11 foreign fishermen without visas were allowed outings to other parts of the island. It was only after 9/11 that heavy restrictions were put in place, confining them to their boats. Fishermen can apply for visas that will allow them to leave the boats, but most do not want to go through the lengthy process.
Look at the big picture, then take appropriate actions to help resolve the situation, not react to propaganda published to sell a book and gain attention during the international environmental convention held in Hawaii the first week of September.
In September, 2016, the Associated Press published a story that was posted in the StarAdvertiser on 9/8/16, regarding "FLOATING PRISONS" , illegal aliens on Hawaii fishing boats.
We first reported our story, "Aliens & Fishermen - Sweatin' it out", in the September, 2000, edition of Hawaii Fishing News. We also posted it on our website, envirowatch.org. Link here to
The Immigration and Naturalization Service looked into the issues, and in 2002 the Honolulu StarBulletin wrote a story, "Foreign Fishermen Barred from Isles". Link here to their story.