HONOLULU, Hawaii – U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono plans to introduce a bill in Congress to protect foreign fishermen from exploitation.
The bill would give fishermen temporary work visas to ensure wage protections and safe working conditions.
Hirono said in a statement Monday that the legislation aims to protect the fishermen while preserving the longline industry.
She says the visas would allow foreign fishermen to leave their vessels while docked in Honolulu.
The proposal follows an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years.
A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work, but it exempts them from most basic labour protections.
Hirono says she’s also working with federal agencies to find solutions that don’t involve legislation.