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World Trade Organization Rewards Dolphin Killing By Mexican Tuna Fishing Fleet

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: Dolphin Safe Tuna, Tuna Industry

New Ruling Allows Mexico to Retaliate Against US for $163 Million


The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled on the government of Mexico’s request to retaliate using tariffs against US trade, and the results are terrible.  Mexico has insisted that the US Dolphin Safe logo requirements for their tuna to use a Dolphin Safe logo “discriminate” against them, so they should be able to use the logo despite the fact that they kill dolphins.  The WTO has agreed with this outrageous premise, and will allow Mexico to impose as much as $163 million in trade tariffs against the US.

The WTO has consistently put trade considerations above environmental protections, working to overturn national laws around the world that are perceived to have any adverse impacts on trade.

The International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) of Earth Island Institute slammed yesterday’s WTO) Panel ruling.  Director David Phillips called it “a ploy to undermine the highly successful and popular US Dolphin Safe tuna labeling law that has protected dolphins since 1990.”  

He continued:  “Shame on the WTO and shame on Mexico for trying to force dolphin deadly tuna back onto US supermarket shelves with a phony Dolphin Safe label.   Mexican fishermen should comply with the same Dolphin Safe label requirements that every other tuna fishing country uses.  Chasing, netting, and killing dolphins is not Dolphin Safe and it never will be.”

“It is high time that Mexico quits this environmentally disastrous fishing practice, rather than trying to force its dolphin deadly tuna onto US supermarket shelves by constant whining about fictitious trade barriers,” added Phillips.

Phillips stated:  “The Mexican tuna fishing industry is the world’s worst killer of dolphins.  They try to hide behind rulings by trade bureaucrats, but consumers are smarter than that and won’t buy their tuna stained by the blood of dead dolphins”.

Earth Island helped establish the international standards for Dolphin Safe tuna, which provide that dolphins are never chased, netted or killed during tuna fishing operations.  The no-encirclement standard was incorporated into US law in 1990.  The Dolphin Safe tuna labeling law has been a critical factor in curtailing the largest scale killing of dolphins in the world. The Mexican tuna fleet, unlike more than 95% of the world tuna fisheries, deliberately targets dolphins to catch tuna, netting and killing thousands in tuna nets during the fishing year.

Dolphin pods are herded for miles by tuna speedboats, resulting in baby dolphins being left behind to starve or be eaten by predators.  Mile-long purse seine nets are then used to surround the exhausted dolphins and the tuna that swim beneath.  Many dolphins die from injuries, physiological stress, and drowning.  And, the pod of dolphins can be chased and netted again and again during the year-round tuna fishery.


For more information on Dolphin Safe tuna, click here.