Hawaii longline industry leaders say they have formed a task force and hired an expert on slavery in response to media reports about human trafficking, forced labor and poor working conditions aboard some of their boats.

“We’re trying to get a sort of fleet assessment, get our arms around the problem and see where we’re going to take it,” said Jim Cook, who owns several longline fishing boats and serves on the Hawaii Longline Association board of directors.

He said Monday that the goal is to weed out the “bad actors,” in part by requiring a universal crew contract that incorporates international norms to address forced labor. That contract is being finalized and should be “ready to rock” in the next couple days, Cook said.

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