HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Allegations of harsh treatment of workers in Hawaii's longline fishing fleet have made headlines nationally.

Now, the industry is defending itself, one day after a grocery store chain stopped buying tuna from Hawaii's fish auction.

There are 140 longline boats and 700 fishermen in Hawaii's fishing fleet. The undocumented workers' employment is legal.

"It's a very in-demand job for them," Hawaii Longline Association president Sean Martin said.

University of Hawaii professor Uli Kozok interprets for Indonesian fishermen. He's heard complaints of physical abuse aboard the boats.

"They're quite a few stories that I've heard where fishermen were beaten by the captain or by the first officer," he said.

He said fishermen complain of insufficient food and third-world working conditions.

Martin thinks the allegations are unfounded.

"It's a long ways from slave labor and human trafficking," he said.

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