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EII: The Emperor Really Has No Clothes... Not Even A Hat

The Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna, an international effort committed to a more sustainable approach to tuna fishing, wrote the following blog post on its website on October 22:

The Earth Island Institute is exposed yet again.



Last month, following a definitive ruling by an administrative law judge, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) levied $1.5 million in fines against six tuna fishing vessels that were caught red-handed engaging in Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Western Pacific. Additionally, four of the vessels were caught and fined for setting directly on marine mammals, a clear violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). All four belong to the South Pacific Tuna Corporation (SOPAC), a company co-owned by  StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Taiwan’s FCF Fishery Co, according to Congressman Faleomavaega (American Samoa) and the company’s former CEO, Jose Muñoz. In other words, the IUU vessels/MMPA violators are governed by the same companies that supply 95 percent of the so-called “dolphin safe” tuna in the U.S. market today.

What does all this have to do with Earth Island? You guessed it…all of these vessels were certified “dolphin-safe” by Earth Island. The system used by Earth Island was captain self-certification, an (evidently) inherently flawed system, which is also now the official standard for the United States’ certification.

Despite its inexcusable failure to protect marine mammals and contrary to its long standing claim that their certification guarantees zero IUU fishing, Earth Island is sticking to its guns. At the recent Solomon Island’s Pacific Tuna Forum (which we reported on here), Earth Island and Friend of the Sea doubled down in their support for SOPAC’s IUU vessels. “NOAA made a mistake,” claimed Mark Berman, Director of Earth Island. “They should never have made these convictions public since the companies involved all denied the allegations.”

The statement left the 200-plus crowd flabbergasted. “U.S. companies get convicted by the U.S. government over encircling marine mammals and Earth Island, who are dolphin activists, come to their defense,” said a representative from a major international conservation organization. “He made it all too clear to everyone here whom his organization is really protecting.”

[Note: Nowhere in Berman’s statement did he deny that the SOPAC vessels had intentionally set on marine mammals.]

Berman’s statement also came on the heels of a disastrous address by Paolo Bray, the European director for Earth Island and front man for its spinoff eco-entity Friends of the Sea, during which he was exposed by audience members for lying about on-board observers on Earth Island/FOS vessels. Neither Earth Island nor the U.S. government employs or requires the use of independent observers to verify tuna as “dolphin-safe” anywhere in the world outside the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Ironically, it was the independent observers from the Pacific Island nations who reported the SOPAC vessels’ violations. The captains of the vessels had not included the violations in their log books or reporting to Earth Island and NOAA, as “required” under the silly and indefensible self-certification system.

In the wake of such a blatant and clear exposure of Earth Island’s fraudulence and ongoing deception, U.S. consumers, retailers, distributors, restaurants and conservation groups have even more reason to reject Earth Island and its so-called “dolphin-safe” tuna. Additionally, we must once again demand that NOAA amend its dolphin-safe standard to require independent observers aboard all vessels where there is scientifically available information that dolphin mortalities are occurring in the tuna fishery, such as is certainly the case in the Western and Central Pacific, where the SOPAC vessels operate.