Reprinted from The New York Times by The Associated Press on December 6, 2016.
Congress should act immediately to improve slave-like conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, speakers at a congressional forum said Tuesday.
“These fishermen are treated like disposable people,” said Mark Lagon, a scholar at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, who told the forum the fishermen live like modern-day slaves. Crew members earn less than $1 per hour, and total costs for crews of nine or 10 men are less than the cost of ice to keep the fish fresh, Lagon said.
“Slavery is not just some abstract concept,” said Lagon, the former director of a State Department office to monitor and combat human trafficking.
Slavery “is something that touches our lives. It goes into our stores, and it goes into our mouths,” Lagon said.
Lagon was one of several speakers at a forum Tuesday on slavery and human rights abuses at sea. The forum, sponsored by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee, followed an Associated Press investigation that found fishermen have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections. …