A new regulation modifies the requirements for use of the Dolphin safe label for tuna. (Photo Credit: NASA)
Dolphin-safe tuna label criteria strengthened
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 01:50 (GMT + 9)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued its final rule to comply with a 2012 World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling by strengthening the US Dolphin-Safe tuna label.
Criteria for the use of the US Dolphin-Safe label established by the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act includes banning the use of the label on tuna caught by deliberately chasing and encircling dolphins with purse seine nets.
“As the author of the original 1990 US Dolphin-Safe tuna label law, I am pleased that NOAA has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the integrity of this label,” US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said. “Numerous times over the last twenty years the Dolphin-Safe label has been in great jeopardy, and this new rule will help ensure that the label that customers have come to trust and rely on is protected.”
This final rule modifies the requirements for the certifications that must accompany the Fisheries Certificate of Origin (FCO); changes storage requirements related to dolphin-safe and non-dolphin-safe tuna on board vessels; modifies the reporting requirements associated with tracking domestic tuna canning and processing; and creates other new requirements for all processors of tuna labelled as dolphin-safe.
Starting on 13 July 2013, any canned tuna sold in the US with a Dolphin-Safe label must have certification proving that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in the process of the tuna fishing, regardless of the gear type used or where the tuna was caught.
This certification requirement currently only applies to tuna caught using large purse seine nets in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean.
Further, the final rule includes a period of education and outreach through 1 January 2014 to give the fishing industry additional guidance on enforcement.
NOAA’s final rule was issued in response to a 2012 ruling by the WTO that the labelling requirement may create a trade barrier with Mexico. Mexico voiced these concerns in 2008, even though tuna caught using harmful fishing practices can be sold in the US without the Dolphin-Safe label.
Senator Boxer recently wrote to the US Trade Representative urging him to defend the label against Mexico’s attacks. She also galvanised 13 Senate colleagues in calling for the development of a solution for complying with the WTO’s final ruling while maintaining the existing strong protection for dolphins.
In this way, the rule addresses Mexico’s challenge without weakening the label’s current goals, NOAA said.
By Natalia Real