DOLPHIN DEATH BILL
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1997:
A bill to repeal the “dolphin-safe” tuna import standard
cleared the House Resources Committee, 28-13, on April
16. A full House vote is expected in May, with the best chance
of stopping the bill a threat of fillibuster by Senator Barbara
Boxer (D-California), who co-sponsored the 1990 standard as a
The “dolphin death bill” is favored by both the Clinton
administration and leading Republicans, who are concerned that
the “dolphin-safe” law may violate the General Agreement on
Trade and Tariffs and the North American Free Trade
Agreement, as preliminary rulings have held, thereby opening
the U.S. to World Trade Organization penalties. Under GATT
and NAFTA, nations may regulate the substance of imports,
but not the means by which they are made.
Opposed by Earth Island Institute, the American
Humane Association, Friends of Animals, the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society, and the Humane Society of the U.S.,
among others, the “dolphin death bill” is endorsed by
Greenpeace, the Center for Marine Conservation, the World
Wildlife Fund, and the Environmental Defense Fund, who hold
that the seven-year embargo of tuna netted “on dolphin” has
convinced tuna fishers to let dolphins escape from their nets,
contrary to previous practice, and that netting “on dolphin” is
less dangerous to sea turtles, albatrosses, and other endangered
sea life than the leading alternatives, longlining and “log sets.”
Longliners in Hawaiian waters alone killed an estimated
12,000 albatrosses a year, 1990-1994, according to U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service researcher Beth Flint and National
Marine Fisheries Service colleague Robert Skillman.
Opponents of the “dolphin death bill” argue that the
way to enhance protection of any endangered species should not
be to increase avoidable harm to other species.