Following a scathing AP report about the plight of foreign workers on American fishing vessels working out of Hawaii, state and federal lawmakers are promising to reform laws that allow the mistreatment of the workers. Mostly from impoverished Southeast Asia and Pacific Island nations, the men are able to live and work on the ships without a visa so long as they don’t set foot on shore. The AP report revealed instances of human trafficking, tuberculosis, food shortages, unsanitary conditions, and being paid as little as 70 cents per hour.
Whole Foods has halted all purchases of seafood from ships with foreign crew until it’s clear the men are being treated fairly. In addition, the Hawaii Seafood Council said that, starting October 1, the Honolulu Fish Auction would sell only fish from boats that have adopted its new, standardized contract aimed at assuring no forced labor exists onboard.