Subject: Case Study: Dolphin Safe II-Dolphin-Deadly Bill Advances i (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sun, 9 Jun 1996 15:12:34 -0400 (EDT)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 8 Jun 96 13:38:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Dolphin-Deadly Bill Advances i

Dolphin-Deadly Bill Advances in Senate Without a ...

   WASHINGTON, June 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Environmentalists are
disappointed by today's decision in the Senate Commerce Committee to
quickly pass -- without any debate -- a bill that would weaken
standards for labelling tuna cans "dolphin-safe" and thus result in
dolphin deaths.
   The result of today's Senate markup resembles action last month in
the House, which has already passed its dolphin-deadly bill through
committee and is awaiting floor action.
   Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen said, "The
senators' lack of interest in dolphin protection, as evidenced by
today's speedy passage of a dolphin-deadly bill without debate, is
appalling. Protection of dolphins is an issue of extreme importance to
the American public and yet the senators were unwilling to even debate
it. Instead they caved in to special interests and trade politics."
   Defenders of Wildlife and other members of a coalition of more than 70 other
groups adamantly oppose weakening the standard, as proposed
in S. 1420, sponsored by Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Ted Stevens
   Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Island Institute, and others led the
effort to pass the law that provides U.S. consumers with a notice on
tuna cans about whether the tuna has been caught without endangering
dolphins. However, S. 1420 changes the current definition of the
"dolphin-safe" label to allow into the market tuna that was caught by
methods that encircle, harass, and chase dolphins in order to catch
accompanying tuna, as long as no "observed" dolphin deaths occur. Most
conservation groups believe that trade politics -- not dolphin
protection -- represent the main concern behind the issue because the
Stevens/Breaux bill was written in response to Mexican demands. Mexico
has pressured for a change in U.S. tuna-dolphin policy after an
international tribunal ruled that current U.S. law is inconsistent
with General Agreement onTariffs and Trade (GATT) standards.
   Defenders and its coalition support S. 1460, legislation sponsored
by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.) that would
retain the present dolphin-safe standard but would change the current
law's trade provisions to create an incentive for responsible foreign
tuna fishers to practice dolphin-safe methods. The Boxer/Biden bill
would be consistent with both NAFTA and the GATT/WTO requirements. In
addition, Sens. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell
(R-Colo.) have joined Boxer-Biden in a bipartisan letter of support
for the present definition of "dolphin-safe" tuna.
   The Stevens/Breaux bill would implement an international agreement,
known as the Declaration of Panama, which was signed last October by
the United States, Mexico and nine other countries.  The Declaration
of Panama necessitates a weakening in U.S. dolphin protection laws
including the Dolphin Consumer Protection Act and Marine Mammal
Protection Act. "The American public has been successfully kept ignorant of the

fact that their hard-fought dolphin protection laws are being traded
away for nothing in return," says William Snape, Defenders' legal
director. "S. 1420 would dismantle one of the most popular labeling
programs ever, ignoring the concerns of hundreds of thousands of
school children and others in the American public whose demands for an
end to dolphing killing led to the current legislation," he warns.
   The Stevens/Breaux bill's definition of "dolphin-safe" ignores the
various harmful effects of chasing and encircling dolphins with nets
and the fact that many dolphins die in the nets unobserved.
   Current U.S. law allows tuna fishermen in the Eastern Tropical
Pacific (ETP) to set nets on schools of tuna not accompanied by
dolphins and on floating objects such as logs to avoid setting nets on
dolphins. S. 1420 advocates a return to the setting of nets on
dolphins, arguing that other methods result in high mortality levels
of other species like sea turtles and juvenile tuna.
   However, the federal government's own scientists have admitted that
unacceptable levels of sea turtle bycatch are a result of fishermen
killing for food, and that the tuna population has not been
significantly depleted as a result of juvenile tuna being caught.
   Defenders of Wildlife is a nonprofit organization with more than
130,000 members nationwide.