Hawaii lawmakers are set to hear from state officials, fishing industry leaders and others about the allegations of human trafficking and poor working conditions aboard U.S. longline vessels, according to a House news release.

Three legislative committees are facilitating a public informational briefing that’s slated for 11 a.m., Wednesday, in Room 309 at the Capitol in Honolulu.

“We have a duty to do all we can to find accountability and put an end to the alleged slavery and inhumane working conditions on our docks,” said Rep. Kaniela Ing, chair of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs.

Port of Honolulu fishing boats1. 23 may 2016.
The vast majority of the U.S. longline fishing fleet, which catches tuna and swordfish, is ported in Honolulu. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“I’ve been meeting with key stakeholders over the past month, who are ready to come to the table and hash out a fair solution,” he said in the release. “Our goal is to inform the public, each claim some accountability, and come up with a fair solution that will ensure the well being of workers without devastating a vital industry.”

The purpose of the briefing is to discuss the implementation of the Universal Crew Contract in the Hawaii commercial fishing industry fleet, issuance of fishing licenses and the conditions of foreign labor related to fishing and ocean resources, according to the meeting notice.

“In light of recent reports by the Associated Press that alleged unacceptable living and working conditions for foreign labor workers on commercial fishing vessels docked at Honolulu Harbor, the Committees have invited representatives from the commercial fishing industry, state departments and community groups to implement strategies and solutions to address the issue,” the notice says.

The panel is set to include: Bruce Anderson, Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources; Alton Miyasaka, Division of Aquatic Resources; Jim Cook, Pacific Ocean Producers/Hawaii Longline Association; John Kaneko, Hawaii Seafood Council; Katrina Nakamura, consultant on social impacts of supply chains, Honolulu Fish Auction; Chris Evans, Hawaii Pacific Seafarers’ Ministry; Pastor Jerry Saludez, Hawaii-Pacific Seafarers’ Ministry; Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency; Brooks Takenaka, United Fishing Agency; Tin Myaing Thein, Pacific Gateway Center; Ashley Watts, former NOAA observer, Local I’a.

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