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Sirius Institute


Dolphin Death Act

From: "DR. KEN MARTEN" <porpoise@lava.net>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 1997 03:04:22 -1000

Subject: TUNA-PORPOISE INFO WEBPAGE: http://www.earthtrust.org

E-MAIL REPLY ADDRESS: porpoise@lava.net

The international conservation organization Earthtrust in Hawaii has now established a webpage devoted to giving up-to-date information about the Clinton/Gore-backed "Dolphin Death Bill" which has now passed through the House of Representatives and is being considered in the Senate. The bill basically legalizes massive killing of dolphins in the tuna fishery, and removes any legal basis for dolphin-safe labelling or other meaningful monitoring of the fishery.

The website is: http://www.earthtrust.org

Just click on the blue print that says "DOLPHIN HOTLINE PAGE" at the top of the home page.

I personally am a former National Marine Fisheries Service porpoise observer on tunaboats, as well as a cetacean research biologist, and am apalled by how poorly the public (and Congress) is being informed, and the consequent apathy and poor decision-making that is occurring with tens of millions of dolphin lives at stake. The populations of dolphins at risk are already heavily depleted.

As someone who has witnessed thousands of dolphin deaths at sea, you can imagine my perspective on this issue compared to debating the life or health of single dolphins or whales. An essential fact to bear in mind is that the new legislation will set an annual quota of 5,000--a number that can (and almost certainly will) be killed in one net set by one tunaboat in one hour. Also, with a quota in place and zero realistic way to monitor the kill (as a former porpoise observer myself, I can state with some authority that the proposed observer program would be futile-- see my testimony to Congress on the webpage), it is basically open season again on the dolphins.

The webpage consists of information to help fill the information gap. Decisions and actions are of course left to the reader. Marmam subscribers are already people who care about marine mammal conservation. There is zero question in my mind that this is the weak link in the marine mammal conservation chain. Each reader should also ask himself if the actions of Congress appear to properly represent other consumers/constituents as well. Talk to other people. Spread the word, especially outside the marine mammal community.

Finally, what if we discuss the issue some on Marmam? It's worth a good rumble! Above all, if you have anything to say, say it to your Senators.

Here is a brief summary by my colleague Mark Palmer of Earth Island Institute, which also appears as an introduction and summary at the beginning of the webpage:

The Dolphin Death Act, S.39 by Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and John Breaux (D-LA), will be coming up for a vote on the Senate floor this summer.

S.39 was developed by the government and tuna fishing industry of Mexico, with the support of the Clinton Administration and the Wise-Use Movement. If approved by the Senate, S.39 would virtually REPEAL U.S. dolphin protection laws. The House companion bill, H.R.408, was recently approved by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

S.39 repeals current embargoes on import and sale of tuna caught by mile-long purse seine nets, which drown thousands of dolphins each year.

Furthermore, the legislation would change the definition of "dolphin-safe" tuna to allow chase, injury, netting, harassment, and killing of dolphins, as long as an observer zero reports any dolphins dying outright. This false "dolphin-safe" definition constitutes consumer fraud of the highest order, all to placate the tuna fleets of Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. The legislation would also allow U.S. tuna fleets to again set the deadly nets on schools of dolphins.

Over the past four decades, more than 7 million dolphins have been killed in tuna nets, which are used deliberately to target schools of dolphins to catch the tuna that swim beneath. Earth Island Institute and other organizations launched an international boycott of tuna in 1988 to stop the killing of dolphins by the tuna industry.

In 1990, the three largest American tuna companies announced that they would only accept tuna caught by methods known to be 'safe' for dolphins. Congress quickly followed up, outlawing the import and sale of tuna caught by netting dolphins.

The U.S. market is now 100% "dolphin-safe"; Canada, Europe, and Australia are also almost entirely "dolphin-safe", covering more than 90% of the world's canned tuna markets. Observed deaths of dolphins in the tuna fishery have dropped from more than 100,000 annually in the late 1980's to only 2,574 last year.

In addition to undercutting years of progress in dolphin protection efforts, S.39 would benefit the drug trade in Latin America. The two largest cocaine busts in maritime history happened aboard two tuna fishing vessels in 1995 and 1996, amounting to tons of cocaine destined for offloading in Mexico for shipment across the U.S. border. Evidence is mounting that major portions of the tuna industry have been bought by the notorious Cali Cartel and Mexican drug gangs, including the Tijuana cartel.

The Dolphin Death Act was defeated in Congress last year, through the filibuster threat of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and thousands of activists like you! Now the bill is back.

Why are the Clinton Administration and members of Congress supporting the repeal of U.S. dolphin protection laws and opening a pipeline for the deadly cocaine trade of Colombia and Mexico? Will they sacrifice dolphins on the altar of free trade?


What is needed is a flood of phone calls, faxes, and e-mail sent to members of the U.S. Senate, urging them to oppose S.39, the Dolphin Death Act.

If you need to know who your Senators are, contact your local Registrar of Voters or City Hall. Information on contacting individual members of Congress is available on the Internet (check the Planet Ark web page, for example, for information on contacting members of Congress on this issue.)

The Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121 -- ask to be connected with your Senator's office.


And, that's it, folks. Have a look at the webpage and see what YOU think. Tell others. Let's at least get informed.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Marten

Dr. Ken Marten Phone: (808) 259-8264
Director of Research FAX: (808) 235-7519
Earthtrust - Project Delphis e-mail: porpoise@lava.net
25 Kaneohe Bay Dr. website: http://www.earthtrust.org
Kailua, HI 96734

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Updated October 9, 2004