Earth Island News
International Marine Mammal Project
Argentina Dolphin Safe program kicks off
Last year, IMMP started monitoring Dolphin Safe tuna companies in Argentina though the local Wild Earth Foundation. Wild Earth contacted several tuna companies and presented them with the objectives of the Dolphin Safe Program. Ten companies were informed of the importance to respect the protocols that avoid any dolphin captures or harm; that is, no deliberate encirclement of dolphin schools to catch tuna, care to release dolphins that are accidentally encircled, etc.. Wild Earth also gave the companies information about the advertising campaign and their cooperation with the media.
La Campagnola, the main tuna company in Argentina, signed the IMMP Dolphin Safe agreement in October 2005, a source of pride for Wild Earth and IMMP. Companies in Argentina that are participating in the Dolphin Safe Program will display a Dolphin Safe logo, which includes the words Protegemos los delfines (“We protect dolphins”).
Wild Earth has organized a workshop in Temaiken, a well-known wild animal park in Latin America. Additionally, workshops were conducted in one of the biggest supermarkets in Buenos Aires, where children learned, through different games, pictures, and films, how they can help save dolphins.
— Maria Pia Biondini is an IMMP monitor in Argentina.
New Web site for tuna consumers
IMMP has unveiled a new Web site directed at consumers who are concerned about protecting dolphins when they buy tuna.
“This is the place to go to answer all of your questions about Dolphin Safe tuna,” stated David Phillips, director of IMMP. “Information about tuna, the international standards for judging tuna to be Dolphin Safe, and the companies that continue to kill dolphins when catching tuna is all here.”
The Web site, www.DolphinSafe.org, includes a list of the tuna companies that maintain a Dolphin Safe Policy, information on international Dolphin Safe standards, and the latest news updates on Dolphin Safe tuna from around the world. The site also provides consumers with names of tuna brands falsely labeled as ‘dolphin safe’ and specific instructions on what consumers can do to help stop these companies from killing dolphins.
About three percent of the world’s tuna is caught by deliberate chasing and encircling schools of dolphins with nets in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Seven million dolphins are estimated to have been killed by this method since the purse seining of tuna was introduced in the late 1950s. Today, more than 90 percent of the world’s tuna companies adhere to the international standards for Dolphin Safe tuna of no encirclement of dolphins. But tuna companies in Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia continue to defy international standards and kill thousands of dolphins annually.
“It is important that consumers understand how important their choices are,” added Phillips. “The comprehensive information on our Web site will help guide consumers to ensure that dolphins are protected around the world.”
— Mark J. Palmer
UN recognizes dangers of ocean noise
The International Ocean Noise Coalition (IONC), under the coordination of Dr. Marsha Green of the Ocean Mammal Institute, successfully lobbied the UN Law of the Sea Conference and individual nation delegates during 2005. Thanks to the work of the IONC, of which IMMP is a founding and active member, the United Nations has acknowledged the dangers of ocean noise to marine life, including whales.
A recent resolution approved as part of the UN deliberations on the Law of the Seas Treaty “…encourages further studies and consideration of the impacts of ocean noise on marine living resources.” The statement appears under the marine environment and protection section of the document, rather under the marine science section.
The United Nations has now joined several other international bodies in expressing concern about ocean noise. Several nations, especially the United States, have derided such concerns in the past; the US and NATO operate several very loud types of military active sonars that have been linked with the stranding of beaked whales and other species, and object to international bodies criticizing their military activities. It remains to be seen if the UN will take stronger action against underwater noise sources in future meetings.
Additionally, a new report compiled by scientists for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as part of the international Convention on Migratory Species examines how small cetaceans are affected by ocean noise, bycatch, directed catches, pollution, and other results of human activities in the oceans of the world.
The UNEP report notes that “(n)oise pollution linked with underwater sonar and military maneuvers is putting at risk over four per cent of (cetacean) species.”
Additional information on the UN and global ocean noise issues can be found on the updated Ocean Noise Coalition Web site: http://www.OceanNoiseCoalition.org
Dolphin Safe Solomon Islands
IMMP has established its office in Honiara, Solomon Islands, with local environmental activist Lawrence Makili working as the new director for monitoring in the Pacific islands.
Mark Berman spent over a month in the Solomon Islands to establish the new office and working relations with the many tuna companies that transship their catch in Honiara Harbor. Each tuna vessel is now required to allow inspections of its catch for certification of the Dolphin Safe label so that the tuna can be exported to Earth Island-approved canners and processors.
Makili will have access to vessel stowage plans, captains’ statements for Dolphin Safe certification, the actual Dolphin Safe certificates, captains’ logs, and cold storage of any carrier vessel. He will also interview the crews of any tuna catcher or carrier vessel.
The Soltai tuna cannery, which is in a strategic partnership with Trimarine International, will allow Makili to access the production line, warehouses, cold storage, quality control and docks where tuna is off-loaded.
Berman says Makili will also be given all records associated with the tuna catch and origin. This insures that the tuna is truly Dolphin Safe as demanded by consumers worldwide.
Berman says that besides working with Soltai, IMMP is now expanding to work with the fishing companies to make sure they do the right thing. He says by doing so they are contributing to the development of the local economy of the Solomon Islands by expanding exports for Soltai to the European Union and eventually North America. The tuna industry and the government of the Solomon Islands are to be commended for realizing that Dolphin Safe tuna exports are far more valuable to the economy than live dolphin exports for the aquarium trade, banned in 2005. The tuna industry was at risk at the time when the Solomon Islands government had allowed the capture of more than 130 dolphins in 2003, and exports of at least 28 to Mexico. IMMP is working to secure the rehab and release of the remaining 20 captive dolphins, now in limbo with the export ban in place; for updates, visit dolphinsafetuna.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.