What are your thoughts on this? What is "Dolphin safe?" How safe is dolphin safe? What about the fishing industry? ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sun, 19 May 96 12:46:00 UTC 0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Dolphin Safe Dolphin Safe By ROBERT GREENE Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -- Environmentalists are split over legislation that would allow imports of tuna caught by methods once roundly condemned for killing dolphins in the process. The bills also would give new meaning to the "dolphin safe" label on tuna cans since 1990. The measures, supported by the Clinton administration, would again let the valuable yellowfin tuna be caught using methods that locate the mature fish by chasing the dolphins that swim with them, encircling all in mile-long nets. The "dolphin safe" label would be allowed only for catches in which the observer can certify no dolphins were killed or seriously harmed -- a restriction that backers say is tighter than the current one. Opponents say the label should continue to forbid tuna caught by chasing and encircling dolphins. They argue that the practice is cruel and stressful and that the proposed new policy cannot practically be enforced. Administration officials say an agreement with Latin American countries last fall will protect dolphins and other sea life in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A number of environmentalist groups, including Greenpeace, support that argument. Others, including the Sierra Club, call the proposal a giant step backward. "The whole thing is a scam being put over on us by the Mexican government and the Venezuelan government that want access back into the U.S. market for tuna that is not dolphin-safe," said Dave Phillips, executive director of the Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco-based environmental group fighting the measure. Without the new legislation, backers say, international agreements to protect the dolphin would collapse. Foreign fleets would go back to killing dolphins and selling to countries that have no rules. Also, restrictions that shield dolphins encourage fishing methods that kill young tuna, sharks, sea turtles, billfish and other important marine life. "The issue really has gotten more complex than it used to be," said Nina Young, marine mammal specialist at the Center for Marine Conservation, one of five environmental groups acting in a rare alliance with congressional Republicans. Imports from several Latin American countries have been blocked by 1988 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Mexico came under embargo in 1990. The restrictions have helped reduce the number of U.S. tuna boats in the eastern Pacific Ocean from 35 to four since 1990. Legislation introduced by Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., cleared the House Resources Committee last week. A Senate version awaits Commerce Committee action. Support comes from the Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund in addition to Greenpeace and the Center for Marine Conservation. Opponents include the Sierra Club, the Earth Island Institute, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States andPublic Citizen. The measures carry out the Panama Declaration, an agreement worked out last October with the environmental groups, the United States, Latin American countries and the southern Pacific island country of Vanuatu to protect not only dolphins but also other ocean life. The agreement calls for certification of fishing vessels and internationally certified observers on each vessel to guarantee the limit on dolphin deaths to fewer than 5,000 a year -- out of a population of 9.6 million. The agreement was signed by Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, the United States, Vanuatu and Venezuela. Dolphin kills totaled more than 100,000 in 1989 but fell below 4,000 last year. Supporters argue that technical advances make it possible to free the captured dolphins without killing them. The bills call for further study of the issue. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and others have introduced bills that would keep the label standards intact. ------ The bills are: Cunningham-Gilchrest, HR2823; Miller-Studds, HR2856; Breaux-Stevens, S1420; Biden-Boxer, S1460.