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July 12, 2013

U.S. Dolphin-Safe Tuna Label Protections Prevail

Final rule from NOAA expands scope of the current labeling requirement

Humane Society International

    The "Dolphin Safe" label has been under attack by countries wanting to import their tuna with the label but without safeguarding the welfare of dolphins. Duncan Noakes/istock

WASHINGTON—The Humane Society of the United States and its international partner Humane Society International praise the Obama administration for its final rule to comply with a 2012 World Trade Organization ruling by strengthening—rather than weakening—the U.S. Dolphin-Safe tuna label.

The administration is notifying the WTO that it intends to comply by expanding the scope of the certification requirements so that they apply to all oceans and not just the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Over the past several decades, millions of dolphins have died in the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery because of the practice of intentionally chasing, harassing and netting dolphins to catch the tuna swimming beneath. 

“The integrity of the dolphin-safe label stands,” said Kitty Block, vice president, Humane Society International. “The Obama administration’s decision to expand the scope of dolphin-safe standards to all oceans with tuna fisheries and to all countries seeking to import tuna is a huge victory for consumers in the U.S., and dolphins everywhere.”

In the early 1990s consumers demanded and Congress enacted dolphin safe standards to protect these animals from drowning in fishing nets. Since the late 1990s this label has been under attack by countries wanting to import their tuna with the well-known and trusted dolphin-safe label but without safeguarding the welfare of dolphins – most recently at the WTO in 2011.

The new regulation was promulgated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  in conjunction with the United States Trade Representative.


Media Contact: Rebecca Basu, +1-240-753-4875, rbasu@humanesociety.org                             

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — on the Web at hsi.org.

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