HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's high-quality seafood is sold with the promise that it's caught by local, hard-working fishermen. But the people who haul in the prized catch are almost all undocumented foreign workers, confined to American boats for years at a time without basic rights or protections.
About 700 men from impoverished Southeast Asian and Pacific Island nations make up the bulk of the workforce in this unique U.S. fishing fleet. A federal loophole allows them to take the dangerous jobs without proper work permits, just as long as they don't set foot on shore.
Americans buying Hawaiian seafood are almost certainly eating fish caught by one of these workers.
A six-month Associated Press investigation found fishing crews living in squalor on some boats, forced to use buckets instead of toilets and suffering running sores from bed bugs. There have been instances of human trafficking, active tuberculosis and low food supplies.