BC-US-Fishermen Exploited in Paradise-Advisory, US


Pier 17 doesn't even appear on most Honolulu maps. Cars whiz past it on their way to Waikiki's famous white sand beaches. Yet passing tourists, let alone locals, are unaware that just behind a guarded gate, another world exists: foreign fishermen confined to American boats for years at a time.

Hundreds of undocumented workers labor in this unique U.S. fishing fleet, due to a federal loophole passed by Congress that exempts them from basic workplace protections. With no legal status, the men are at the mercy of their captains on American-flagged, American-owned, American-captained vessels, and can earn as little as 70 cents an hour.

The fleet's catch ends up at markets and restaurants across the country and is marketed as "sustainable seafood produced by Hawaii's hard-working fishermen." In fact, Americans buying Hawaiian seafood are eating fish almost certainly caught by one of these foreign workers, who account for nearly all of the fleet's crew.

This report is part of The Associated Press' ongoing look into labor abuses in the fishing industry, stretching from Southeast Asia to America's own waters. Last year, the AP reported about fishermen locked in a cage on the remote Indonesian island village of Benjina and traced their catch to the United States, leading to more than 2,000 slaves being freed. Yet thousands remain trapped worldwide in a murky industry where work takes place far from shore and often without oversight.

The AP's latest investigation in the series will move in advance on Wednesday, Sept. 7, for use in print and online on Thursday, Sept. 8.

— Text: The package includes a main story of 4,000 words and an abridged version of 1,000 words. Additional elements include a Q&A of 600 words and a sidebar on legal issues of 300 words.

— Photos: Photos from Hawaii, Indonesia and San Francisco will move in advance for use Thursday, Sept. 8.

— Video: APTN and online video will move on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 12.01 a.m.

— Graphic: A locator map will move in advance showing where the men come from and go.

Questions can be directed to Mary Rajkumar, International Enterprise Editor, at [email protected] or (347) 522-1848.
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