NOAA Ducks On "Dolphin-Safe"

Sat Apr 6, 2013 10:38am EDT

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Proposed Regulations Would Continue to Mislead Consumers

WASHINGTON,  April 6, 2013  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Commerce
released draft regulations to comply with last year's WTO ruling on the use of
the dolphin-safe label on tuna products. The current dolphin-safe label fails to
adequately ensure consumers that no dolphins were harmed in the capture of tuna
bearing the label. While the proposed draft regulations acknowledge this
reality, according to the Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna, they do not protect
dolphins or provide consumers with accurate information.

The WTO found that the U.S. dolphin-safe label does not inform consumers about
the killing of dolphins in any of the world's tuna fisheries other than the
Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) Ocean, "even if dolphins have in fact been killed
or seriously injured during the trip." Consequently, consumers are deprived of
information about dolphin mortalities for more than 95 percent of the tuna
labeled dolphin-safe that is sold in  the United States  today.

The NOAA draft regulations do not rectify the failings of the current labeling
regime. Congress, in enacting the 1997 International Dolphin Conservation
Program Act (IDCPA), specified that any alternative dolphin-safe label used in
the U.S. market must be backed by independent proof that no dolphins were harmed
or killed, supported by 100 percent observer coverage and a robust and specific
tracking and verification system based on the one in place in the ETP. The
central truth is that for the past twenty years the major tuna companies,
StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee, have been using alternative
dolphin-safe labels that do not comply with these mandates, creating false
expectations for consumers.

For tuna caught outside the ETP, the proposed regulations do not offer any real
protections for dolphins or consumers. Specifically, they call  only  for a
captain's self-certification that no dolphins were killed or injured in the
capture of the tuna. This puts the power of dolphin-safe designation solely in
the hands of an economically self-interested party - the captain of the vessel.

The draft regulations would perpetuate the deficient standards for tracking and
verification requirements for alternative dolphin-safe labels currently in use.
They would hide from consumers the fact that tens of thousands of dolphins are
killed each year in non-ETP tuna fisheries around the world. As a result, this
dolphin-deadly tuna would continue to be labeled dolphin-safe.

The draft regulations do nothing to correct the current consumer deception as to
the true dolphin-safe status of tuna bearing the dolphin-safe label. Consumers
will not be provided any additional assurances that the tuna they consume was
caught without harm to dolphins.  

The current U.S. law should be amended to bring the dolphin-safe labeling rules
in line with consumer expectations that have developed over the past twenty
years. The law must allow for the more stringent and eco-safe AIDCP standard and
give consumers for the first time a choice along with the full information
necessary to make an educated purchasing decision.

SOURCE  Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna

Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna,

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