Subject: Case Study: Dolphin Safe (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Tue, 21 May 1996 13:26:53 -0400 (EDT)

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
Subject: Dolphin Safe

Dolphin Safe

 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
   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
   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
   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
   The bills are: Cunningham-Gilchrest, HR2823; Miller-Studds,
HR2856; Breaux-Stevens, S1420; Biden-Boxer, S1460.