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News | 2014 Annual Report - International Tuna Monitoring Report | Marine Mammal Project
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2014 Annual Report - International Tuna Monitoring Report

| David Phillips. Int'l Marine Mammal Project
Topics: Dolphins

Earth Island Institute

International Tuna Monitoring Program

2014 Annual Report


Message from the Executive Director

David C. Phillips

Earth Island Institute

Welcome to our 2014 Annual Report for Earth Island’s International Monitoring Program for Dolphin Safe Tuna (IMP).

Thanks to your continued participation, Earth Island’s monitoring program continues to be one of the largest and most successful environmental monitoring programs in the world, encompassing 515 tuna companies, brokers, fishermen, and retail outlets in 71 countries.

Our ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 organizational and environmental standards credentials have been renewed for another year by an independent outside accrediting agency, QMS, ensuring continued quality monitoring for tuna around the globe.

Verifying the dolphin-safe operations of tuna companies around the world has been instrumental in the protection of dolphins and other marine life as well as providing consumer confidence in tuna products.  We are proud of the work of our monitors and heartened by the hundreds of tuna companies that have honestly and diligently complied with the Dolphin Safe standards.  Under ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, we have independent recognition of the quality of our work.

Visit Our Dolphin Safe Websites:

As in past years, we continue to maintain our listings and press releases on our online websites, so that readers have an up-to-date resource for companies that maintain active Dolphin Safe policies with Earth Island.

For background information on the history of the dolphin-safe issue and our current list of verified dolphin-safe tuna companies contact: http://www.DolphinSafeTuna.com

For information on our registered trademark Dolphin Safe logo in Europe contact: http://www.earthisland.org/immp/edsmo.htm

We further invite you to visit our website for tuna consumers and the general public.  Here you will find our outreach educational information as well as special alerts on dolphin-deadly (e.g. nonconformance) supplies and suppliers of tuna.   Go to: http://www.DolphinSafe.org

Dolphin-Safe Logos:

        The vast majority of tuna companies around the world -- processors, importers, brokers, and retailers -- have repeatedly made it clear that they are committed to the use of a dolphin-safe label that prohibits all chase and capture of dolphins.  There is widespread opposition to the use of any weakened, unscientific labels.  Such use would pose unacceptable risks to dolphins and also risks destroying consumer confidence in the Dolphin Safe label that has been built over the past twenty years.

        Earth Island Institute remains categorically opposed to any and all use of fraudulent labels, including those promoted by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) or the use of any labels as substitutes for dolphin safe (e.g. labels referring to sustainability) unless these labels incorporate the international non-encirclement standards for Dolphin Safe tuna.  The position opposing weakening of the non-encirclement dolphin-safe label is supported by the vast majority of the US and international environmental community.  Organizations including Greenpeace USA, The Humane Society of the US, Humane Society International, Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, Marine Connection, the German Dolphin Conservation Society (Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine e.v.), and OceanCare support the current no-encirclement definition and standard.

WTO Challenge Expected to be Completed this Spring:

     On October 28, 2008, the government of Mexico, having exhausted all chances of weakening the Dolphin Safe tuna label standards in the United States, filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Earth Island and our allied environmental and animal welfare Coalition partners continue to work on this challenge.  The US Trade Representatives Office (USTR), with whom we are working, vigorously opposed this challenge before the WTO.  The US Dolphin Safe standards, they agree, are now set by Congress in statutes and reaffirmed by four court rulings supporting the strong no-encirclement definition.  Furthermore, many peer-reviewed scientific studies have confirmed the dangers of chasing and netting dolphins, causing severe disruption and deaths of thousands of dolphins.

     The USTR has also filed a request with the government of Mexico to move the dispute to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) dispute process, rather than the WTO.  That dispute is still pending, as the government of Mexico has refused so far to move the dispute to NAFTA, where the dispute legally belongs.  Earth Island and our allies are opposed efforts by Mexico to join negotiations under way for a Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement, until such time as Mexico agrees to live up to their responsibilities under NAFTA.  Our organizations have further asked President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to take steps to ensure Mexico abides by their NAFTA responsibilities.

     A decision by the WTO dispute panel was released on September 15th, 2011.  The decision was decidedly mixed and, in some areas, confusing and contradictory.  The panel determined that the US Dolphin Safe label was trade restrictive, but then went on to say that the protection of dolphins by the US and consumer education were legitimate environmental goals under the provisions of the WTO.  The dispute panel further ruled that Mexico’s proposed alternative (IATTC) label standards did not meet the US objectives for dolphin protection.  The dispute panel determined that the use of the Dolphin Safe label constituted a “mandatory” regulation, despite the fact that use of the label is voluntary under US law.  The WTO dispute panel decision was appealed by the United States on January 24th, 2012; Mexico also appealed. 

      Unfortunately, the WTO appellate panel upheld the claim that the Dolphin Safe label somehow discriminates against Mexican tuna, upending the decision by the WTO dispute panel.  This decision is further proof of problems within the WTO over the protection of the environment versus free trade at any cost. 

     The US issued new regulations to address the concerns of the WTO:  These new regulations extend Dolphin Safe requirements from the Eastern Tropical Pacific to all oceans.  These regulations took effect on July 13, 2013, with the support of environmental groups.  Mexico subsequently returned to the WTO to protest that these new regulations do not resolve their problems, but the US Office the Trade Representative believes they have legally resolved the issue and that the WTO will uphold the US position.   A final decision by the WTO is expected this spring.

     The US tuna industry has further stated via the National Fisheries Institute its intent to adhere to the strong no-encirclement Dolphin Safe policy they currently follow regardless of any changes:

Household tuna brands Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist are disappointed in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) appeals court ruling because it is likely to create consumer confusion about whether or not their products continue to be dolphin safe.  The three U.S. brands want to reassure consumers they have no reason to be concerned that their companies are wavering in their commitment to providing dolphin safe tuna as a result of this ruling.  These companies do not and will not utilize tuna caught in a manner that harms dolphins.  Providing consumers with sustainable and dolphin safe tuna remains a top priority.

Dolphin Safe and Shark Finning:

     Earth Island’s commitment to protect dolphins extends to other species as well.  We were one of the first groups to propose that US laws and Regional Fisheries Management Forums seek to require the live release of any sea turtles entangled in purse seine nets.  We have further supported similar efforts to release sharks and other nontarget species, to reduce bycatch.

     Earth Island encourages all tuna companies to avoid catching sharks and to release any entangled sharks alive.  Tuna companies should not engage in shark finning.  Several RFMO’s have taken similar positions, and recently the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) adopted a similar policy when Earth Island staff brought the issue to their attention.  The ISSF is further conducting workshops with tuna fishermen to help reduce bycatch in tuna purse seine nets.

FAD-Free Tuna from the Pacific:

     Earth Island is not opposed to the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in fishing for tuna, as long as steps are taken to reduce the bycatch of nontarget species, such as sharks.  Several Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, such as the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Fisheries Commission, have taken steps to reduce bycatch in tuna fisheries, and Earth Island has supported these steps.

     Some companies have asked Earth Island to help identify and establish tuna fisheries that provide FAD-free tuna catching methods.  We have done this in several cases, partnering with the NGO Friend of the Sea.  Earth Island helped develop Safeway brand tuna that is now supplied from FAD-free sources, and we have put other companies in touch with FAD-free fishing vessels in various parts of the world.

     A long-running dispute between the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and Earth Island has been resolved, which will offer FAD-free tuna certified by the Marine Stewardship Council to tuna companies from the Western Pacific Ocean. We look forward to working with the PNA nations and other companies in providing sustainable FAD-free tuna.

Earth Island Continues Our Close Partnership with Friend of the Sea:

     Earth Island and Friend of the Sea http://www.friendofthesea.org continue our collaboration with many lines of fish products certified as sustainable under Friend of the Sea criteria, which includes provisions matching non-encirclement Dolphin Safe standards.

Earth Island Participation in Meetings and Conferences:

     In recent years, Earth Island has expanded its outreach and activities into many international conferences, meetings, and tuna management meetings.  These include regular presentations on Dolphin Safe tuna and our monitoring program for INFOFISH and similar Conferences and fisheries expositions, such as the European Seafood Exposition.  We have also taken an active part in International tuna commission meetings around the world.

Please Contact Us:

     We encourage you to contact us at any time with any questions or problems that you may have regarding the dolphin-safe issue and our monitoring program. 

     We greatly appreciate your continued support for a program that is helping dolphins and building consumer confidence in dolphin-safe tuna and the Dolphin Safe label.

Earth Island Institute

  International Tuna Monitoring Program

2014 Annual Report


The Earth Island Institute International Monitoring Program (IMP) is the only independent marine conservation monitoring effort in the world to place on-site monitors at tuna landing sites, inside tuna storage and processing facilities, and onboard fishing and carrier vessels.  The program further continues the active inspection of procurement and sales records of tuna canneries around the world.  The program:


For detailed information on IMP and a current listing of Earth Island-verified Dolphin Safe tuna companies, go to our website at:  http://www.DolphinSafeTuna.com

    Tuna Companies verified

Dolphin-safe by Earth Island  Institute...................................................................................... 515

Countries that have companies as part of Earth Island’s IMP.....................................................   71

Inspections carried out by Earth Island monitors globally ........................................................  823

Tuna Shipments Targeted and other Incidents of Nonconformance with International

Dolphin Safe Tuna Standards and Earth IslandProcedures  .....................................................    32



California USA Headquarters:

David Phillips, Executive Director

Mark Berman, Associate Director

Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director

International Monitors:

Dr. Paolo Bray                                           Dr. Angel Herrera

Trixie Concepcion                                     Alfonso Pading Jr.

Weng Castillo                                            Donald Sanz

Carlito Flores                                             Jacqueline Sauzier

Ulrike Kirsch                                              Lawrence Kepangi Makili

Jose Carlos Castros Neila                                    Femke den Haas

Indra Poernomo                                       Homer Tuquib

Walter Anzer (European Advisor to EDSMO)


Attorneys of Record

Richard Mooney

Ariela St. Pierre

Joshua Floum


Independent Standards Certifiers

QMS International - ISO 9001 & 14001