The “Dolphin-Safe” Fiction

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).