Certification that no dolphins were killed or injured while catching tuna will now be required before fisheries can label their product as “dolphin-safe.” Up until now, this requirement only applied to tuna caught using large purse seine nets in the eastern tropical Pacific. The strengthened rule now includes any tuna sold in the United States, regardless of method or catch location.
The new rule offers consumers more knowledge about what they are eating—and whether or not dolphins were harmed in the process of catching it. Tuna that does not meet the new standards can still be sold in the U.S. without the label.
Neighboring countries have tried to defeat the changes in regulation, claiming it presents an unfair disadvantage to their fishermen. In June 2012, the Mexican Agricultural Ministry had brought the then-proposed regulations to the World Trade Organization with complaints that the ruling didn’t comply with trade laws. The rule was amended and adopted last week.
Spinner dolphins and spotted dolphins have made a slow but steady comeback in the eastern tropical Pacific since the first wave of regulations were imposed in the early 1990s.The hope is that the added requirements will not only help people make well-informed decisions about the products they buy, but ultimately dolphins will enjoy elevated levels of protection in all waters.