Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIV · Panama City, Panama · No. 4 · Thursday July 5, 2012
Acrobat .pdf of issue

WTO Attacks Dolphins

Since 1990, the US government has maintained strong Dolphin Safe protections to prevent the chasing and netting of dolphins while fishing for tuna. These Dolphin Safe standards have been adopted by more than 90 percent of the world’s tuna industry, with Earth Island Institute hosting an international team of monitors to ensure that tuna is caught by methods that do not harm dolphins and other marine life.

The government of Mexico has long challenged these standards, and recently received the backing of a dispute panel before the World Trade Organization. The WTO dubiously determined that the Dolphin Safe standards constitute a required regulation, despite the fact that tuna companies in the US (including Mexican companies) are free to use or not use a Dolphin Safe logo. The WTO further determined that the standards discriminate against Mexican tuna, despite the fact that Mexico can and does import tuna to the US to sell on a regular basis.

It is up to the US Congress whether or not to change US laws concerning the Dolphin Safe tuna label. Environmentalists are urging the Obama Administration and Congress to maintain the strong Dolphin Safe standards while continuing negotiations with the government of Mexico.

Dolphins should not be sacrificed on the altar of Free Trade.