For decades, dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean were intentionally chased and netted by tuna fishermen to catch the tuna that swim beneath dolphin schools. More than seven million dolphins were killed by the purse-seine tuna fleets, the largest killing of marine mammals in history.
In 1988, we provided the world with the first video footage of dolphins dying in tuna nets. In 1990, we established the Dolphin Safe tuna program, setting the worldwide standards to stop the setting of nets on dolphins. More than 95 percent of the world’s tuna companies are now committed to Dolphin Safe fishing practices, and the Dolphin Safe label is now on canned tuna in markets throughout the world. We maintain the International Dolphin Safe Monitoring Program, with monitors around the world covering more than 750 companies, to ensure that tuna is caught without chasing or netting of dolphins. Dolphin deaths in tuna nets have declined by 99 percent.
Mexican, Venezuelan, and Colombian tuna fleets continue to chase, net, and drown thousands of dolphins annually. Mexico is fighting to overturn the Dolphin Safe tuna label, going to the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Congress to change U.S. laws so they can falsely label their tuna—stained by the blood of dolphins—as Dolphin Safe. Earth Island Institute is fighting to prevent that from happening. Earth Island Istitute is also active in stopping bycatch of non-target species in tuna nets and in stopping fishermen from killing dolphins for shark bait.
The Mexican tuna industry applied to the Marine Stewardship Council to gain MSC’s “sustainable fishery” seal to use on their products, indicating the tuna purse seine fishery is “sustainable.” But the fishery and MSC have glossed over the fact that the tuna fishery chases, nets, injures, and kills thousands of dolphins annually.
Tell the Marine Stewardship Council to abide by their mission and NOT to call dolphin-killing "sustainable" or "eco-friendly".
Mark J. Palmer, November 2017
In 2008, after a series of lawsuits in support of the US Dolphin Safe tuna label standards were won by the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) of Earth Island Institute, the government and tuna industry of Mexico brought the issue to the World Trade Organization (WTO). They claimed that the Dolphin Safe standards “discriminated” against Mexico’s dolphin-killing tuna fishery.
On Thursday, October 26th, the WTO announced that the US had satisfied WTO regulations of international trade. Mexico’s case has fallen apart.
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