U.S., Peru split on dolphins

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

WASHINGTON D.C.––The House Resources Subcommittee on
Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans on April 18 approved HR 2823, a bill by
Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-Maryland) to implement the 1995
Declaration of Panama. Endorsed by the Clinton administration, Greenpeace,
the World Wildlife Fund, and the Center for Marine Conservation, HR 2823
and a Senate companion bill, S 1420, change the definition of “dolphinsafe”
to allow the resumed import of tuna netted “on dolphin,” if the number
of “observed” dolphin deaths is less than 5,000 for the fleet for the year.
Proponents of the bill argue that netting “on dolphin” is less harmful
to sea turtles, sharks, and other endangered marine species. Opponents
disagree, including the Humane Society of the U.S., the Sierra Club, and
most other animal and habitat protection groups. “HR 2823 is deadly to dolphins,”


explains Adele Douglass, Washington D.C. director for the
American Humane Association, “because it repeals all U.S. dolphin protection
laws,” to bring the U.S. into compliance with the North American Free
Trade Agreement ban on the use of “process standards,” governing how
something is produced, in restraint of trade.
“If this bill passes,” warns Earth Island Institute executive director
David Phillips, “the only winners will be the Mexican dolphin-killers, who
will again be able to dump their dolphin-lethal tuna onto U.S. supermarket
shelves.” Adds Sam LaBudde, whose undercover video of dolphin slaughter
in tuna netting, together with similar video from the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society, led to the 1990 adoption of the “dolphin-safe” definition
that HR 2823 would repeal: “This is exactly what we were promised
wouldn’t happen when NAFTA was passed.”
As the U.S. Congress moved to weaken dolphin protection, the
Peruvian Congress on April 10 adopted Peru’s first dolphin protection law,
strengthening existing regulations by making dolphin-killing and/or selling
dolphin meat punishable by from two to four years in jail.
ANIMAL PEOPLE received material published in support of the
new law from Olga Rey, president of the Campaign for Life Association,
who said Peruvian waters are home to 20 of the world’s 42 species of dolphin;
the Peruvian Center for Cetacean Studies, which said Peru hosts 18 of
46 dolphin species; and author Rebecca Howard, a resident of Peru, who
claimed, “More than 31 of the world’s 80 known cetacean species cruise
Peru’s coastal waters.”
Said Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project, who flew to Peru to help
Rey lobby, “I just know it’s a lot of dolphins. They were being killed illegally
and sold as ‘sea pig,’ but when Campaign for Life put up some billboards
telling the people what ‘sea pig’ really is, nobody wanted to eat it any more.”

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