Legal action against ocean fishing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2003:

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on April 10 held for
the fourth time in 13 years that 1988 amendments to the 1972 Marine
Mammal Protection Act oblige the U.S. to exclude imports of tuna
netted “on dolphin,” a method often used by foreign fleets because
dolphins and tuna feed on the same fish species and often swim
together. Surrounding feeding dolphins with nets therefore usually
captures tuna–as well as dolphins who do not escape before the nets
close. Henderson in May 1990 banned imports of yellowfin tuna from
Mexico, Venezuela, and Vanuatu. After Congress reinforced the 1990
verdict by introducing “dolphin-safe” labeling, Henderson in January
1992 banned $266 million worth of tuna imports from 30 nations. A
General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs panel in 1995 ruled that the
U.S. “dolphin safe” law is an improper trade barrier. The law was
eased by the 1997 International Dolphin Conservation Program Act,
but Henderson and U.S. Court of International Trade judge Judith
Barzilay issued conflicting verdicts when then-Commerce Secretary
William Daley tried to admit non-“dolphin-safe” tuna to the U.S. In
December 2002 the Commerce Department moved to allow U.S. firms to
market tuna netted “on dolphin” as “dolphin-safe,” if no dolphins
are known to have been killed during the netting, but Henderson
ruled that the 1990 definition of “dolphin-safe” must stand unless
the law is changed.

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 6 ruled against the
contention of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, the American SPCA,
and the Sierra Club that the State Department is inadequately
enforcing a 1989 law that bars imports of shrimp from nations whose
shrimpers are not required to use turtle exclusion devices in their
nets. U.S. shrimpers have had to use TEDs since 1987. The World
Trade Organization in 1999 held that the 1989 law is an unfair trade
barrier, since it is a “process standard,” i.e. a law which
addresses not what a product is, but rather how it is made. U.S.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson argued that only Australia and
Brazil still ship shrimp to the U.S. without enforcing a TED law.

Oceana in late March 2003 submitted a proposed settlement of
a five-year-old case seeking to protect endangered Stellar sea lions
from loss of their food sources to overfishing in Alaskan waters to
U.S. District Judge John Zilly in Seattle; sued the National Marine
Fisheries Service in Boston for allegedly allowing scallop dredgers
to jeopardize sea turtles and a cod nursery, after losing similar
cases in 2000 and 2001; and indicated that it may sue NMFS over
alleged flaws in a new plan to reduce the dumping of “bycatch” off
Alaska. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council recently reported
that fishers in Alaskan waters discarded more than 261 million pounds
of unwanted bottom fish during 2001. Oceana was formed in 2000 by
the Oak Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Rockefeller Brothers
Fund, Surdna Foundation, and Turner Found-ation. President Steve
Roady previously headed the Ocean Law Project, begun by the Pew
Charitable Trusts and incorporated into Oceana. In 2001 Oceana
merged with the American Oceans Campaign, founded in 1997 by actor
Ted Danson.

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