Earth Island Institute

Judge Slams Seatech’s Effort To Weaken Dolphin Safe Tuna Label

Lawsuit Against Earth Island Institute Backfires

An Italian judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Earth Island’s Dolphin Safe tuna program, run by Earth Island’s International Marine Mammal Project, and demanded the company Seatech, based in Colombia, pay Earth Island’s court costs.

In Milan on Feb. 1, 2012, the judge ruled that Seatech was wrong to sue Earth Island Institute in Italy for it’s public criticism of Seatech’s dolphin-deadly canned tuna being imported into Europe.  The judge ruled that Seatech should pay Earth Island’s court costs of 3,375 Euros.

“We appreciate the judge’s decision to stop Seatech from trying to block the truth by suing Earth Island in Italian court,” stated David Phillips, Earth Island Institute’s Executive Director. “Dolphin-deadly tuna has no place in Europe’s market, and consumers must be allowed to learn the truth about Seatech’s terrible anti-environmental record.”

In reply to the case, Earth Island filed extensive documentation about Seatech’s fishing method of chasing, netting and drowning thousands of dolphins in order to catch tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Further, Earth Island noted that one of Seatech’s vessels has been charged killing dolphins and illegally fishing in the protected ocean reserve around the Galapagos Islands. This resulted in the designation of the vessel as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU).

Earth Island’s research has further revealed that Seatech’s dolphin-deadly tuna has been repeatedly rejected for import into European Union countries due to findings of high mercury and histamine levels. (Larger, older tuna tend to swim with dolphins, so mercury levels are much higher in dolphin-deadly tuna than in Dolphin Safe tuna.) Furthermore, no Colombian freezer vessel is approved by the European Union’s SANCO for exports to Europe.

Brusfoods BV and Atuna BV have promoted Seatech tuna as “sustainable” tuna in Europe. Both Brusfoods and Atuna abruptly withdrew from Earth Island’s Dolphin Safe program, and their tuna products are no longer verified by Earth Island Institute as being Dolphin Safe. Seatech canned tuna has been sold in Italy under the brand names Mazzola, ICAT Food, CRAI and others. It has also appeared on store shelves in Edeka markets in Germany.

“The only way to protect dolphins and consumers is to ensure that Earth Island and other environmental organizations are free to present the facts to the public about shoddy business practices and damaging products like Seatech, Mazzola, ICAT Food, CRAI, and Edeka tuna,” added David Phillips.

International Marine Mammal Project
is a project of Earth Island Institute.
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