[WILD_SEAS] Doplhin-safe Tuna

From: wildnet@ecoterra.net
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 13:59:43 EDT


Forwarded to us only now, but interesting also for the European market.

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Forwarded from France. Best regards to you all. Bernard Blanc.

Judge Strikes Down Dolphin Decision

The Associated Press
Apr 12 2000 4:03AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Clinton administration's attempt to loosen
standards for ``dolphin-safe'' tuna has been blocked by a federal judge,

preventing the label from being used on cans of fish caught with nets
that also snare dolphins.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said the Commerce Department
improperly concluded the change would not have a significant adverse
impact on dolphins.

The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by critics who have argued
that the labeling change amounted to a weakening of U.S. laws protecting

dolphins.

The Commerce Department had planned to allow the ``dolphin-safe'' label
for tuna imported from Mexico, which has the largest tuna fleet. Its
boats in the eastern tropical Pacific drop encircling nets that trap
tuna and the dolphins that swim beneath the fish. The dolphins are
released.

The agency last year said it lacked evidence that the nets harmed
dolphins. Under a 1997 law, if that finding were finalized, it would
allow tuna
caught that way to be labeled ``dolphin-safe'' as long as observers on
the boats verified that no dolphins were hurt in nets.

But Henderson said the department failed to complete testing of dolphins

that were repeatedly captured and released - a test required by the 1997

law.

``A decision to change the label - without the benefit of any results
from the critical stress research projects - cannot be squared with
Congress'
clear intent,'' Henderson wrote.

The judge said the label change must not happen until the agency
considers preliminary results from the tests now under way and issues a
new
finding based on those results.

The first samples from those tests should be available in several
months, said Jim Lecky, an assistant regional administrator with the
National
Marine Fisheries Service.

The judge did not address the 1997 law lifting the import ban on tuna
caught with the nets, only whether the label could be used when tuna is
known to be caught that way.

White House spokesman James Kennedy said the government needed to study
the ruling before deciding its next step.

Fishing nets were once responsible for the death of more than 100,000
dolphins a year. But the annual dolphin death toll has declined to no
more
than 3,000 in recent years. The first protective federal laws were
passed in 1972. The ``dolphin-safe'' labeling statute was approved in
1990.

The three major tuna processors - Star-kist, Chicken of the Sea and
Bumble Bee - have all said they would continue using only tuna caught by

methods other than net encirclement. The three processors share about 90

percent of the U.S. tuna market.

David Phillips, director of Earth Island Institute's marine mammal
project, was pleased with the court ruling.

``This is a tremendous rebuke to President Clinton, Vice President Gore
and the free-trade bureaucrats who sold out dolphin protection to
accommodate a handful of foreign fishing companies, killing dolphins to
catch tuna,'' he said.

But the labeling change had the support of such groups as Greenpeace,
the Center for Marine Conservation and the Environmental Defense Fund.

These organizations say the strict adherence to when the label can be
used has blocked international cooperation aimed at protecting dolphins.

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check it out at: <http://www.angelfire.com/mi/smilinks/thirdeye.html>



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