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‘Tuna For Tomorrow’ Clashes with ‘Eco-Safe Tuna’ Over Dolphin Safe Global, September 19, 13

Two campaign groups have come to loggerheads in a recent clash over dolphin safe tuna. Tuna for Tomorrow, focusing on combatting misinformation about sustainable stocks of tuna fished by the America’s Big Three canned tuna brands, and Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna, an international effort to get a more sustainable approach to tuna fishing, have publically exhibited friction between their position on dolphin safe in a recent online feud.

The Dolphin Unfriendly Campaign Behind Eco-Safe Tuna
by Tuna for Tomorrow

The latest attack from the shadowy Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna and its hired gun Mark Robertson crosses the line from desperate to potentially dangerous.
Robertson, a paid spokesperson, says the Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna is “handing out information and asking people if they know what dolphin-safe means and what the impacts of dolphin-safe is on eco-systems.” But the truth is that Eco-Safe is backed by the Mexican tuna fleet and a number of Central American governments with direct financial interests in going back to the days before dolphin-safe tuna.
Here’s what you should know.

Prior to 1990, fishermen caught yellowfin tuna by following dolphin, because the two could often be found swimming together, especially in the area of the Pacific ocean off the coast of Mexico and Central America otherwise known as the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Crews “fishing on dolphin” would chase dolphin using explosives or sonic pulses to round up dolphin and their tuna fellow travelers, and then intentionally encircle them with something called a purse-seine net—a net that hangs vertically in the water with weights at the bottom and floats at the top. The tuna were harvested for processing. The dolphin were “released”—dead or alive—as bycatch.
This all changed starting in the late 1980s, when Americans and people around the world spoke out against the old ways and called for steps to be taken to protect dolphin. American tuna companies worked with the movement, and stopped buying fish caught by chasing dolphins. Congress went a step further, prohibiting the sale of canned tuna in U.S. markets that was caught by chasing and intentionally encircling dolphins.
There is only one major tuna producing country that still does things the old way: Mexico. Fishing in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, Mexican tuna boats “fish on dolphin” to this day, chasing the mammals in speedboats, encircling them in their nets and releasing them when able, but still killing around 1,000 each year allowed under dolphin mortality limits.
Because of this, Mexico can’t sell its tuna as “dolphin-safe” on the U.S. market, and both the Mexican tuna canning industry and the Mexican government are understandably very upset about that. They have even sued the United States in the World Trade Organization, in an attempt to get America to change its laws and return to fishing practices from the old days. The Mexican tuna fleet and its allies in government have enlisted Robertson, and his firm Potomac Global Advisers, to make their case to the public. And we can see why they need help. The simple truth is that, far from being concerned about the well-being of dolphin, Robertson and Eco-Safe are hell-bent on getting non-dolphin safe tuna sold on American shelves, twenty years after the Americans condemned it, the tuna industry moved away from it, and Congress banned it.
No wonder they need to resort to desperate stunts and irresponsible attacks.
We’ve heard plenty of scary but vague language about what the Eco-Safe tuna group is against. Now it’s time for them to fess up to what they are for: chasing dolphin.

The Truth Hurts
by Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna

Tuna for Tomorrow, the front group for FAD fishermen bent on promoting the deceptive “dolphin-safe” label, recently posted an angry rant about our Campaign on their website. Any time these companies and their profitable “non-profit” affiliates attack us, we take that as a good sign that we’re doing something right. And while most of their gripes are invented, ad hominem, vaguely xenophobic and occasionally illiterate, the Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna would like to offer our response in the spirit of respectful debate.

There’s only one problem with that plan: Tuna for Tomorrow doesn’t actually offer any criticism of our campaign. It’s all scary name-calling and personal attacks on the folks who openly support us.
Tuna for Tomorrow’s only actual criticism is based on a decades-out-of-date claim that the Mexican tuna industry is a bad actor in tuna fishing. The truth is that since the 1990s, Mexican fisheries have exceeded industry standards to ensure the protection of dolphins. That means independent observers even outside the ETP (which Big Tuna aggressively resists), and proven marine-safe fishing practices that combine in-net divers and escape methods that have reduced bycatch to almost zero. By contrast, the killing of dolphins in the so-called “dolphin-safe” / FAD fisheries are estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
Instead of recognizing the problem more than two decades ago and improving their practices, as Mexican fisheries have done, the companies behind Tuna for Tomorrow sought out and exploited loopholes in the international dolphin protection agreements. As a result their bycatch numbers, including dolphins, are through the roof. Tuna for Tomorrow’s claims about dolphin safety obscure the thousands of sharks, sea turtles, sea birds and other marine life they kill every time they use a “fish aggregating device” or FAD to scoop entire ecosystem groups out of the water to get their tuna hauls. And Tuna for Tomorrow’s so-called “dolphin-safe” claims also obscure the tens of thousands of dolphins they kill outside of the Eastern Tropical Pacific every year by setting their nets on FADs everywhere else around the world.
Fishermen outside of the ETP regularly reject having independent observers onboard their vessels. They insulate their puppet “non-profit” (Earth Island Institute) and government (NOAA) decision makers to keep American consumers from learning the truth behind their deadly “dolphin-safe” deception. They do all this because they run a profitable racket, which is why the government of Mexico sued them in front of the World Trade Organization, and WON! Get that? The WTO looked at the evidence and agreed that “dolphin-safe” claims in the U.S. market are spurious, unfounded, debunked. But they want to keep using their deceptive “dolphin safe” label to keep truly sustainable tuna from taking a bite out of their profit margin and push them to use responsible fishing methods.
The Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna has been the target of industry attacks before, and we will likely see these baseless attacks again. We’re going to look past the fact that Tuna for Tomorrow is showing up so late in the conversation, and the fact that their arguments are based on information that’s older than the Internet, and we’re going to celebrate that they showed up to the conversation at all. Because, honestly, we just assumed they didn’t care about fact-based environmental or social criticism. Turns out they just don’t like the facts.