Subject: U.S. Senate OKs tuna compromise (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 31 Jul 1997 21:29:34 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 06:48:29 -0400
From: Dagmar Fertl <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: newsclip-U.S. Senate OKs tuna compromise

     U.S. Senate OKs tuna compromise

     July 30, 1997

     WASHINGTON (AP) -- After seven years of only"dolphin-safe" tuna on
     grocery shelves, consumers may soon see tuna cans bearing no such
     promise under a measure the Senate passed Wednesday in a 99-0 vote.

     The bill would lift the embargo on imports of tuna from the Eastern
     Pacific, but tuna caught there with huge nets that can encircle
     dolphins could not carry the dolphin-safe label until that method is
     proven safe.

     Under the bipartisan compromise, the Secretary of Commerce
      would make a preliminary determination in March 1999 on
     since the embargo was imposed in 1990, protect the mammals
     sufficiently to warrant the label.

     Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, pressed for the
     compromise after the House passed a measure in May to lift the
      embargo and immediately label the new imports "dolphin-safe"
     without the study the Senate would require.

     "I feel good today because I know that consumers can continue to
     rely on the `dolphin-safe' label for at least 18 more months, and
     that means fewer dolphins will die," Boxer said.

     The House will likely accept the Senate's version, said Dan Walsh,
     legislative director for Maryland Republican Rep. Wayne
     Gilchrest, who sponsored the House bill.

     "We think the compromise is worse than the House bill, but
     apparently it's the best we're going to get from the Senate, so we'll
     take it," Walsh said.

     Under the Senate version, it would be up to consumers to determine
     whether to stick with tuna labeled "dolphin-safe" -- the
      only kind now available, or buy fish without the label.

      A final decision by the Commerce secretary, either confirming or
     reversing the March 1999 ruling, is due by December 31, 2002.

     The close connection between dolphins and schools of tuna occurs
     mainly in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. The 1990 embargo
     was imposed after huge encircling purse-seine nets were blamed
     for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of dolphins a year.

     But fishing methods with the nets, including deployment under the
     dolphins, have vastly improved, said Annie Petsonk of the
     Environmental Defense Fund.

     Twelve countries, including the United States, signed the
     Declaration of Panama in October 1995 that limited total annual
     dolphin kills through net fishing to 5,000.

     The other 11 countries, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
     France, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Spain, Vanuatu and
     Venezuela, had contended the U.S. embargo was an unfair barrier
     to the lucrative American market.

     "I think at the end we are seeing a good result," Carlos Camacho,
     Mexico's deputy minister of fisheries, said in an interview in
     Washington. "We needed the United States, which was committed
     to the Declaration of Panama, to change its legislation."

     One third of Mexico's tuna fleet already fishes in a dolphin-safe
     manner, Boxer said.

     Critics say a designation of dolphin-safe doesn't ensure that all
     individual dolphins are being protected. "Dolphin-safe for the
     average consumer means it's safe for each and every dolphin," said
     John Fitzgerald of Friends of the Earth. "It turns dolphin-safe from
     a green label to a green lie."

     However, groups including Greenpeace and the Center for Marine
     Conservation support changing the dolphin protection policy,
     arguing the Senate legislation will lead to increased international
     protection of dolphins by the tuna industry.

     "This is a victory for dolphin, the marine ecosystem and
      consumers," said Roger McManus, president of the Center for
     Marine Conservation. He said by the United States lifting the
     import ban, countries with large tuna fleets in the eastern Pacific
     will comply with new international efforts to protect dolphins.