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The “Dolphin-Safe” Fiction

April 23, 2013

Well, we looked at the humane slaughter fiction, so why not another one?

This sort of story is the reason I don’t eat any seafood. No matter how many assurances you get that it is “safe,” or “sustainable,” or whatever, the truth is that you can’t really be sure, and that very little is what it seems when it comes to the fishing industry. Read the whole thing, but here is a key moment:

When we arrived, what we found totally broke our hearts. About 1000 beautiful, divine Spinner Dolphins were inside their big net, swimming in circles, afraid and confused. We saw a little baby dolphin outside the net swimming around like crazy trying to reach his family. I filmed it all. I filmed them pulling in the nets, I filmed when several of their guys, upon seeing us, jumped into the water to try to free any stuck dolphins.

The two daughters, OMG I LOVE them, wanted to get in and check it out so we jumped in and swam to the net and the sound was heartbreakingly deafening. The dolphins were crying out, making all kinds of strange sounds, and the little dolphin outside kept racing by, in a total panic.

Once the net was in more than half way, several more guys jumped into the water and the speed boats came out and they started to try to pull one side of the net down so that the dolphins could get out. This is the standard practice called “backing down” the net which if they do it, they are allowed to call their tuna “dolphin safe.” What a fricken JOKE!!! The dolphins were in total panic and confusion and totally stressed. Not only that, it took several times to get all the dolphins out, with over 45 minutes in between so the group was totally split up and freaked out. Not only that, but the guys were pounding on the water to frighten the dolphins into swimming out of the net but they were so afraid and confused that it just made it worse. (Read on).

I know there is a rational argument that says that the dolphin-safe program, for all its flaws, saves the lives of many dolphins. I believe that to be true. But I think it also encourages the consumption of tuna because it allows shoppers to buy tuna in good conscience, and to believe dolphins aren’t dying for their love of tuna. But as this story shows that is likely not the case. And if people clearly understood that eating tuna is killing dolphins, demand for tuna would go down, which might be an even better way to reduce dolphin deaths.

Maybe, instead of a dolphin-safe label,we should have a different label, which says: “The product you are about to consume kills dolphins.” That, arguably would save more dolphin lives than a flawed “dolphin-safe” program that obscures the truth of what really happens out there on the ocean. (Now that I think of it, a whole series of food labels, akin to cigarette warnings, which captured health and environmental impacts, would be awesome).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. protecttheocean permalink
    April 23, 2013 12:36 pm

    Indeed, Tim, the Dolphin-Safe labeling was a poorly made lie from its inception. The deal brokered, which I objected to from the beginning, was that only half as many dolphins would be killed by these nets, in exchange for allowing them to put that happy smiling dolphin face on every can of tuna. Clearly the other half, which amounts to thousands of dolphins being killed every year, are not smiling. And all of this for what? A cheaper can of tuna?
    The oceans can no longer sustain the rate of harvest at which we have been burdening them. Some species are down to under 10 percent of their numbers – 93% depleted — from just 60 years ago. We must all stop eating seafood, allow the oceans and their inhabitants to recover. This goes beyond what is Right; it is a matter of our very own survival. The oceans are our largest supplier of oxygen, and represent exponentially more than 75% of the planet (in that the ocean has depths, not just surface area). As go the planet’s oceans, so go we. We must protect them.
    So this isn’t just about the dolphins being slaughtered, whether by nets or in Taiji, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands and elsewhere. It’s about the entire eco-system. The nets that catch fish also “by-catch” and kill myriad ocean inhabitants. We ARE altering the planet’s ecology. In the past 100 years, we’ve developed more ability to ruin than in the MILLION years before. Factory farming is leaving people starving while destroying habitat and creating havoc all over the planet. We MUST take a big step backwards, revisit what we eat and how we get our food. If we do not, the simple truth is that we will not survive to see the next century, and we’ll take all the rest of this beautiful, amazing planet with us. Isn’t that worth saving? Isn’t that worth fighting for?

    Protect The Ocean

  2. April 27, 2013 5:58 am

    The dolphin-safe label is so downright deceiving! That’s one of the reasons why I do not eat tuna. There should be a label that says the following:

    “Numerous dolphins were accidentally caught while this tuna was caught for your consumption. Fortunately, the deeply distressed dolphins were released, despite the extreme stress. Not ‘dolphin safe’ by any means. Please do think about this while you consume your tuna.”

    I am so deeply angered that the beautiful pod of Spinner dolphins – as mentioned in this article – were caught so very senselessly, just for the tuna! I am glad they were released and do hope that many of them would be OK. Such practice as this truly needs to stop altogether! LAURICE

  3. July 21, 2013 6:38 am

    Hola! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!


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