FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
A news conference was held yesterday at Kewalo Basin Park detailing the plight of Micronesian fishermen in Honolulu. Seated at the table were the Rev. Godaro Lorrin, Edwin Tom and Luckson Kaiapas.
Fishermen allege abandonment
The Micronesians say boat captains left them on Oahu without passports
About a dozen Micronesian fishermen alleged yesterday that they have been exploited by at least three Honolulu fishing companies.
The fishermen, natives of Pohnpei and other islands of the Federated States of Micronesia, claim that tuna boat captains from three different boats left them on Oahu without passports since docking here weeks ago. The group also claims to have received less than $100 per month of work for the first five months of their contracts.
Ronald Fujiyoshi, who is helping the fishermen through the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries of the United Church of Christ, said no complaints have been filed because it is unclear if any violations occurred.
"We couldn't find exactly what ... is illegal about what's going on, so we hesitated about what to do," he said at a news conference in Kakaako. "But we just feel that this is immoral."
The state Department of Labor and U.S. Coast Guard said they have no jurisdiction over the complaints. James Hardway, special assistant to the director of the state Department of Labor, said he contacted the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which he believes is looking into the issue. A call made to OSHA after business hours yesterday was not returned.
State Rep. Anne Stevens, whose district includes Ala Moana, Kakaako and Waikiki, said she received copies of the contracts and would be checking for any violation.
The three companies that the fishermen are accusing of taking their passports include Kwang Myong Co. Inc., Princess K. Fishing Corp. and Long Thanh Nguyen. All are based in Honolulu.