Mexico’s tuna industry ignores dolphin deaths
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel stands for sustainable fishing. However, the award was recently given to the Mexican tuna fishery in Mexico, where the deaths of several hundred dolphins per year are deemed acceptable.
The Society for Dolphin Conservation (Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine or GRD) strongly condemns the MSC’s decision: "How can a fishery be regarded as sustainable when huge dolphin schools are being intentionally hunted and trapped by nets used to catch the tuna swimming among them?" Although the dolphins are released, several hundred animals die each year as a result of this fishing method. Several thousand dolphin deaths a year are even officially ‘allowed’ – this is unbelievable,” GRD project manager Ulrike Kirsch criticised.
Supported by the Earth Island Institute (EII), the Humane Society of the United States, and the Marine Mammal Commission in the US, the WWF has raised a formal objection to the MSC, but this has been rejected. The environmentalists had provided evidence showing that deliberately falsified figures on dolphin deaths were used to assess the sustainability of these fisheries.
MSC supports hunting and killing of dolphins
According to EII’s Executive Director David Phillips, the decision by MSC infringes its own rules. “MSC’s own Certification Requirements specifically prohibit the targeting of any mammals by a certifiable fishery. It is established fact that this fishery intentionally targets dolphins, and therefore the certification should have been disqualified immediately.”
Mass killing of marine mammals during tuna fishing
From the 1960s to the early 1990s, more than seven million dolphins have been killed in the tuna fishing industry in the tropical East Pacific. It is the largest dolphin massacre in the world associated with a specific fishing method. To date, the dolphin population has not recovered, and at least two species have been decimated to critical numbers.
"To certify as sustainable a fishery in which dolphins die, where dolphins are sometimes chased and caught by speedboats several times a day, or in which they end up dying, injured and traumatised, with dolphin mothers being separated from their offspring, is a mockery, and can hardly be overlooked in greenwashing. In any region and country where dolphins are protected, it is strictly forbidden to hunt dolphins or otherwise interfere with their natural behaviour," said Kirsch. Together with many other NGOs, the GRD has called on the MSC to withdraw the decision.
Dolphin Safe – more important than ever
Now more than ever, it is clear how important the international control programme for dolphin-safe tuna fish – with the EII‘s Dolphin Safe label – is, something which the GRD has implemented in Germany since 1991.
Under the Dolphin Safe label, the abovementioned method of catching tuna, among others, is forbidden. To date, over 95% of tuna companies are affiliated with the programme and have committed not to use such fishing methods or to sell only Dolphin Safe tuna fish. Thanks to this, hundreds of thousands of dolphins are spared from becoming by-catch in the nets intended for tuna every year.
As consumers, anyone who wants to ensure that no dolphins had been harassed, captured or killed when the tuna were captured should look out for the Dolphin Safe logo.