Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ policy of granting commercial fishing licenses to ships filled with human trafficked fishermen who are under a deportation order saying they must be “Held on board”, makes the practice of slaver fishing possible.
Attorney Lance D. Collins and his client, Malama Chun have challenged this practice. DLNR denied Malama Chun standing and he sued in Circuit Court to overrule this decision. This is the press release announcing the victory:
Maui Judge Reverses Land Board on Foreign Fisherman Case
January 25, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wailuku, Maui – Maui Environmental Court Judge Joseph E. Cardoza ruled in favor of Native Hawaiian waterman Malama Chun and against the state Board of Land and Natural Resources regarding his petition challenging DLNR's Division of Aquatic Resources practice of issuing licenses to foreign fisherman who have been refused permission to land in Hawai'i by U.S. authorities and have been ordered deported.
The BLNR had denied the petition on the grounds that Chun lacked standing to file the petition. The Court reversed that decision, finding he had made a sufficient case to establish standing and remanded it back to the BLNR to decide the merits of Chun's petition.
State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States” Foreign fishermen working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also ordered deported. However, using a loophole, they authorize the fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is restricted.
Malama Chun said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the Environmental Court for upholding my civil rights. I hope the Land Board will do the same for these less fortunate fishermen on these boats”
Chun's attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “The statute is clear. The practice is illegal. We look forward to a timely decision on the merits by the Land Board according to law.”
The Court had previously denied the Hawaii Longline Association's attempt to intervene in the case.