Hawaiian Fisherman Sues Over Slave Ships


On July 31, 2017 Malama Chun  filed suit against the Board of Land and Natural Resources in Maui’s Environmental Court. He had previously asked the Department of Land and Natural Resources not to issue commercial fishing licenses to non-resident fishermen who are confined to boats at Honolulu and Hilo harbors when at port. Chun is represented by Maui attorney Lance D. Collins.

The Board in a 6-1 decision (Board member Stanley Roehrig dissenting) refused to address the substantive issue of its Division of Aquatic Resources illegally issuing commercial fishing licenses to non-resident fishermen who are not legally allowed to enter the United States and as a consequence of their status are held in prison-like conditions on their boats while docked in Honolulu and Hilo.

State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States”. Obviously if a fisherman is under a deportation order indicating they cannot legally set foot on land in the U.S. and are ordered “detained on board” the slaver ship, they do not meet the requirement for obtaining a Hawai’i fishing license.

The Board also did not hold a public hearing to deny the matter – going against its traditional custom of making its decisions at public meetings.

On April 12, 2017, Malama Chun, a Native Hawaiian waterman, who fishes, filed a petition with the state Board of Land and Natural Resources 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.

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.

Chun said, “The members of the BLNR must have been too ashamed to make their decision at a public meeting. The situation is bad for these fishermen and its bad for Hawaii’s people. And I know in their hearts they know its wrong which is why they didn’t give us a public hearing before deciding.”

Chun’s attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “We have filed the agency appeal in the Environmental Court ”