Saturday, February 08, 2014

What is Dolphin Safe Tuna?

Astral Dolphins -

From Wisegeek: "In many parts of the world, consumer pressure has led to the labeling and sale of dolphin safe tuna, which is tuna caught without harming or killing dolphins. These concerns arose in the 1980s, when public awareness campaigns by organizations like Greenpeace and the Earth Island Institute alerted consumers to the fact that thousands of dolphins were dying along with tuna every year. The thought of these lovable marine mammals being harvested along with tuna was revolting to many consumers, who started to boycott companies that harvested tuna in an unsafe way. The Earth Island Institute began offering a certification program for dolphin safe tuna, and numerous governments also began to create dolphin safe tuna laws and labels so that consumers could make informed choices about their purchases.

"Dolphins are often caught up in the nets used for tuna because of the way in which tuna is harvested. Large circular nets are cast down in a very large area of ocean and then slowly contracted, picking up all of the marine life in the region. Dolphins can be caught in the nets and drowned, or experience severe trauma from the fishing nets.

(...) "There are ways to capture tuna without harming dolphins and other fish in the sea. After heavy consumer boycotting led to demands for dolphin safe tuna, many companies started exploring these humane options. In the United States, all tuna canneries tried to voluntarily obtain and sell dolphin safe tuna, and in 1991, the United States government enacted standards through the Department of Commerce which dictated the requirements for dolphin safe tuna labeling. In 1997, these requirements were controversially relaxed in response to industry pressure, leading to a rise in independent certifications by organizations like the Earth Island Institute.

"Most government standards for dolphin safe tuna dictate that no dolphins can be killed or seriously injured in the process of fishing for tuna. Dolphins may be caught in nets, as long as they are not injured. Marine biologists argue that the trauma of being caught up in fishing nets constitutes an injury, but federal governments apparently do not agree. Independent certifications are more rigorous." Read the article: What is Dolphin Safe Tuna? -


Related links:

From Discovery News: "Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, “Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!”

"The new finding is that bottlenose dolphins also say the names of certain other dolphins.

"“Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual,” lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News." Read the article: Dolphins Call Each Other By Name - By Jennifer Viegas,, Feb. 19, 2013

* * * * *

From The New York Times, 1999: "Everybody loves dolphins, those playful models of animal wisdom, celebrated for protecting shipwrecked sailors and spending their days frolicking happily in the waves. Movies, television and water shows feature their antics.

"Nowadays, thousands of tourists swim with dolphins, captive and wild, with more signing up every day to commune with their animal intelligence. Most recently, a variety of organizations have sprung up that offer tours to places like the Florida Keys, the Azores and New Zealand, where participants can swim with wild dolphins and, brochures proclaim, experience emotional healing and spiritual awakening.

"But scientists, following a trail of bloody clues, are discovering that dolphins are far from the happy, peaceful creatures that humans think they know.

"Growing evidence shows that the big animals, up to 12 feet long, are killing fellow mammals in droves, wielding their beaks as clubs and slashing away with rows of sharp teeth. Dolphins have been found to bludgeon porpoises to death by the hundreds. Unlike most animal killers, which eat their prey, dolphins seem to have murderous urges unrelated to the need for food.

"They have even been observed in recurring acts of infanticide.

"Of course, dolphin savagery pales in comparison with the brutality of people, who have managed to kill millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. The dolphins, which breathe air, drown when large purse seine nets close over their heads. Fishery reforms seek to limit the slaughter."

"Dolphins are highly social and appear to communicate among themselves with a wide range of clicks, whistles and beeps, though scientists who study them say they do not actually have a complex language. Experts say dolphins are smarter than dogs and similar in intelligence to chimpanzees.

"The new-age dolphin operations go much further. In advertisements and tour promotions, they say dolphins are highly evolved spiritual beings. The dolphin's mere glance is enlightening, they say." Read the article: Evidence Puts Dolphins In New Light, As Killers - By William J. Broad, The New York Times, July 6, 1999

* * * * *

(Edited to add) From The Guardian: "Decades of research on cetaceans, and dolphins in particular, has revealed that their brains, while markedly different from humans, are large, complex and capable of sophisticated behaviour. Observations of dolphins have shown that they can recognise themselves, use tools and understand symbols and abstract concepts." Read the article: Whales and dolphins 'should have legal rights' - Campaign for intelligent marine mammals to have right to life, which would protect them from hunters and captivity., 20 February 2012