Subject: Case Study: U.S. House panel OKs bill on dolphin

Michael Williamson (
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 13:32:57 -0400 (EDT)

Is this enough? too much?
What else could be done?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 96 11:21:00 UTC 0000
Subject: U.S. House panel OKs bill on d

U.S. House panel OKs bill on dolphin protections

    By Vicki Allen
     WASHINGTON (Reuter) - A House subcommittee Thursday approved
a bill to allow imports of tuna caught in ways that do not kill
more than 5,000 dolphin annually, easing the current embargo
on "dolphin-deadly" tuna.
     Backers of the bill, including the Clinton administration,
Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, said it would extend
restrictions against the heavy incidental catch of dolphins in
tuna nets internationally, reducing dolphin deaths.
     The bill would codify an agreement among 12 nations
including Mexico, Venezuela and the United States that fish in
the eastern Pacific Ocean, where tuna often swim with dolphin.
     The voluntary agreement adopted in 1992 cut dolphin deaths
to 3,601 in 1993 compared with nearly half a million annually
in the early 1970s, the Clinton administration said.
     Opponents of the bill, including the Humane Society of the
United States, the Sierra Club, and most of the subcommittee's
Democrats, said it was a sell-out of dolphins for international
trade interests.
     They said the bill would allow encirclement and harassment
of dolphins to net the tuna that swim below, which likely would
increase dolphin mortality although the deaths would not be
directly observed as the bill specifies.
     Largely on party lines, the House Resources Subcommittee on
Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans passed the bill sponsored by Rep.
Wayne Gilchrest, a Maryland Republican, by 9-6.
     "This is the beginning of our changing our environmental
laws" because of pressure from international trade agreements,
said Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat.
     Miller had promoted an unsuccessful substitute bill that
would stick to current U.S. standards of "dolphin-safe,"
meaning tuna not caught in the kinds of nets that also trap and
kill dolphins.
     "If this bill passes, the only winners will be the Mexican
dolphin-killers, who will be able to dump their dolphin-lethal
tunaonto U.S. supermarket shelves," said David Phillips,
director of Earth Island Institute.
     Mexico has fought the U.S. embargo against tuna from it and
other nations that used dolphin-encircling nets.
     Miller said a large portion of Mexico's fleet now uses
dolphin-safe fishing methods, and that tuna would be allowed
into the United States under his bill.
     Four environmental and wildlife advocacy groups that backed
Gilchrest's bill in a statement said it would protect dolphins
and lock in an international deal.
     "The legally binding agreement that is envisioned --
including monitoring, enforcement and incentive measures --
makes it far more likely ... to have fewer and fewer dolphin
deaths in coming years," said Nina Young of the Center for
Marine Conservation.
     The Senate so far has not moved on its version of the bill,
and Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, warned that she
would move to block a bill similar to Gilchrest's measure.