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Marine Stewardship Council Grants EcoLabel to ‘Dolphin-Destructive’ Mexican Tuna Fishery

Wildlife groups blast the decision, say it violates MSC’s own certification standards

This article was cross-posted with the International Marine Mammal Project.

The Marine Stewardship Council, an international organization formed to address the global problem of unsustainable fishing, has approved use of its “sustainable” ecolabel by the Mexican purse-seine fishery that intentionally chases, nets, and kills dolphins in order to catch tuna.

image of dolphins in netPhoto courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Dolphins at the top of a purse-seine net. The Marine Stewardship council approved use of its ecolabel by the dolphin-destructive Mexican purse-seine fishery on August 4.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Mission claimsto use our ecolabel and fishery certification programme to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.”

But, according to David Phillips, director of Earth Island’s International Marine Mammal Project, which first pioneered the Dolphin Safe tuna fishing standard, MSC is now failing to abide by its own certification requirements prohibiting the targeting of mammals for any fishery certified by MSC.

Phillips blasted the decision in a statement: “MSC is fraudulently rewarding the single most dolphin-destructive fishing method in world history with its ecolabel."

Earth Island is not alone in objecting to the MSC decision. The World Wildlife Fund, which in the late 1970s founded the MSC program, announced it’s “deep concern” that the Mexican fishery fails to meet MSC standards and recommends seafood buyers reject claims that the fishery is “sustainable.”

The Humane Society of the US and the US Marine Mammal Commission also strongly oppose MSC’s approval of this fishery as does a group of more than 60 non-governmental organizations and scientists from around the world.

Since 1960, more than 7 million dolphins have been killed by this cruel fishing method. Dolphins drown in nets, dolphin babies become separated from their mothers, and the constant stress of repeat captures disrupts feeding and mating activity. The fishery continues to hamper the recovery of dolphin populations that have been severely depleted by decades of killing by the tuna fleets.

The vast majority of the world tuna fishing industry has abandoned this fishing method, with more than 95 percent of the world tuna companies refusing to sell tuna caught by setting nets on dolphins. Regarding the Mexican tuna fishery, Phillips stated: “The Mexican fishing industry continues to chase and target dolphins and deceive consumers into thinking that it is ‘sustainable’ or ‘safe’ when it is not.”

“It is shameful that now MSC threatens the lives of tens of thousands dolphins by endorsing a fishing method that should be banned,” Phillips said.

Take Action: Send an email to the MSC demanding that they not certify the Mexican purse-seine fishery that intentionally chases, nets, and kills dolphins in order to catch tuna.

For more information about what you can do, visit the International Marine Mammal Project website.

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