Whole Foods Suspends Buying Longline Fish at Hawai‘i Auction
Whole Foods has stopped buying longline caught fish from auction following concerns over labor practices conducted by some fishing vessels.
An Associated Press report last week described a legal loophole that has resulted in the abuse of some foreign fisherman on American fishing boats. Those workers catch ‘Ahi and Swordfish for American markets…but are not allowed to leave their ships, are often underpaid and their working conditions depend on the captains of their vessels.
A statement from Whole Foods clarified that its three Hawai‘i’s stores are only buying fish from auction if it came from “day boat fisherman,” an added that the company has zero tolerance for human rights abuses, and is committed to buying from organizations with proven fair labor practices.
United Fishing Agency’s auction manager Mike Goto says his organization is conducting its own investigation.
Goto says the investigation is still in the early stages… but is confident that it will restore consumer confidence in the industry.
A statement from the Department of Land and Natural Resources clarified the Division of Aquatic Resources issues licenses to in individual fishermen engaged in commercial fishing and expressed concern over the reports. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible”.