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Hawaii boat wreck shows risk of fishing fleet’s practice

Caleb Jones/Associated Press

A paddler passed by the stranded Pacific Paradise Wednesday off Honolulu.

Associated Press 

HONOLULU — Just offshore from Waikiki’s pristine white sand beaches, a fishing boat transporting foreign workers destined for low-paying jobs in Hawaii’s fishing fleet smashed into a shallow reef last month.

The stranded boat has been leaking oil and diesel ever since in an area prized by swimmers and surfers, and there was a visible sheen around the boat this week.

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The crash of the 79-foot Pacific Paradise illustrates a potential environmental impact of the Hawaii fishing fleet’s practice of transporting foreign workers by boat.

The industry faced criticism after a 2016 Associated Press investigation revealing that the workers from Southeast Asia and Pacific nations work without visas, some making less than $1 an hour and living in squalid conditions.

Swimmers say they feel and smell the petroleum even when they are in the water far from the wreck site. Some visitors mistakenly assume the crippled boat is a tourist attraction. The Coast Guard said the pollution removal will take several more weeks to complete, and efforts to remove the boat have failed so far.

Associated Press