Subject: Case Study: Dolphins & House panel passes bill

Michael Williamson (
Thu, 9 May 1996 15:34:28 -0400 (EDT)

How does politics play in the conservation of species?
Does this help?
Who does it help?
What can you do to help?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 9 May 96 00:25:00 UTC 0000
Subject: House panel passes bill to cha

House panel passes bill to change dolphin safeguards

    WASHINGTON (Reuter) - A House committee Wednesday passed a
bill to allow imports of tuna caught in ways that do not kill
more than 5,000 dolphin annually, easing U.S. barriers to
imports of "dolphin-deadly" tuna.
     The House Resources Committee passed the bill that forged an
unusual alliance of the Clinton administration and House
Republicans, who said it was a way to put into law the voluntary
efforts by Mexico and other Latin American countries to protect
     The bill would label as "dolphin-safe" imports of tuna
caught by vessels that encircle dolphins in order to net the
tuna that often swim below the mammals in the eastern Pacific
Ocean, as long as observers on board do not see dolphins killed
in the operation.
     It would set an annual limit of 5,000 deaths of dolphins
caught in nets in the eastern Pacific, where tuna and dolphins
tend to swim together.
     Many Democrats and a number of environmental and wildlife
groups said the bill would allow harrassment of dolphins that
would cause stress and increase mortality, and was a sell out of
environmental protection for trade interests with Mexico.
     The United States currently has a labeling law for cans of
"dolphin safe" tuna, which means fish not caught in the huge
nets that also may trap and drown dolphin. The U.S. tuna
industry voluntarily imposed a purchasing ban on tuna from
countries using nets deemed dangerous to dolphin.
     The Humane Society of the United States said the bill
changes the meaning of the dolphin safe label, "eviscerates
dolphin protection and betrays consumers."
     But wildlife advocates were split on the bill, with
Greenpeace calling it the best way to broaden protections
internationally and save more dolphins.
     "The environmental and animal welfare community have the
same goal of protecting dolphins, we just have a tactical
disagreement," said Gerry Leape, legislative director for ocean
issues for Greenpeace, which backed the committee's bill.
     Other advocates, including the Center for Marine
Conservation, have said the bill's enforcement, monitoring and
incentive measures will result in declining dolphin deaths.
     The Senate is starting work on its bill, and Sen. Barbara
Boxer, a California Democrat, already has threatened to
filibuster a bill similar to the House Resources committee's