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  • Writer's pictureSeattle Seafarers Center

Filipino Fishermen Face Labor Trafficking in Westport, WA

Cascade PBS recently covered the important story of 24 Filipino seafarers who were abandoned on their fishing vessels for several months in Westport, Washington, without adequate pay or the ability to leave their vessels.

Many US-owned fishing companies on the West Coast and in Hawaii employ foreign fishermen on their vessels, and pay them as little as $350 or $400 per month for their hard work, which includes excessive overtime. These minimal contracts are not always followed, and fishermen are often taken advantage of and suffer wage theft. These seafarers are not equipped with US visas and so they are not legally allowed to step foot on US land; they are confined to their small vessels with often poor sanitary conditions, even during long port stays.

This story from Westport demonstrates how the fishing industry is ripe for labor trafficking and the exploitation of seafarers. As this case has been developing over the past few months, our team at the Seattle Seafarers Center has been exploring how we can expand our outreach to seafarers aboard local fishing vessels and advocate for their rights.

While we are glad the case in Westport is being investigated, we know it is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in joining us in this important work of advocating for seafarers' rights, let us know at

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