The Department of Land and Natural Resources is aware of media reports regarding living and working conditions on longline fishing vessels that bring catches into Hawai‘i ports. DLNR’S area of responsibility is limited to the ministerial task of issuing commercial fishing licenses to qualified applicants.
“The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), issues licenses to individual fishermen engaged in commercial catch. DAR continues to follow long-established statutory and administrative rules which require commercial marine licenses for the taking of marine life and landing it in the state for commercial purposes,” explained DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. The rules regarding Hawai‘i commercial marine licenses can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS-189-2 and HRS-189-5).
“We are naturally concerned about press reports pertaining to on-board living conditions, pay disparity and the issue of involuntary labor, and applaud the longline fishing industry for the efforts it is taking to resolve these issues,” Case added. “Further we are happy to engage with any stakeholders, including lawmakers, commercial fishing interests, and other regulatory agencies, in explaining the current laws and regulations pertaining to licensing of commercial longline fishers and in exploring any legislative or administrative rule changes,” Case said. “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible,” she concluded.