Quick Recipes and Easy

Dolphin Safe Tuna Fish? What Does It Really Mean?

Since 1990, tuna canning factories started using a “dolphin safe” mark on their cans. This came about after the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which stipulated the number of dolphins killed by United States fisherman after a severe decline in the dolphin population. Fishermen often used wide encircling nets to catch large amounts of tuna at one time (as seen in such movies as Finding Nemo). Commonly, more than the wayward tuna were caught in these nets and the unnecessary sacrifice of dolphin that had found themselves trapped in these nets were an unfortunate event. In the late 1980’s, animal rights activists pushed for a nationwide ban of canned tuna and their subsequent canneries because of their fishing practices.

To counteract the banning, tuna canneries throughout the United States started advertising that they were using dolphin safe fishing techniques. Such techniques were often more expensive for the fishermen for two reasons. They could no longer use their nets and had to resort to using fishing lines producing less fish for each trip. Also, those that chose to continue to use the encircling net method had to go further out into the western Pacific Ocean where dolphins and tuna are known to not swim together. With the added expenditures both of these methods employed, the cost of tuna in a can also rose. Soon, tuna canneries learned that the average consumer who was dolphin conscience didn’t mind paying the extra cost knowing that the product was of higher quality. Although it is possible to buy tuna fish that is not labeled as “dolphin safe” in the United States, most of the tuna fish comes from other countries such as Mexico and abroad.

Currently, only three tuna fish canneries provide “dolphin safe” tuna fish. They are Chicken of the Sea, BumbleBee and StarKist. There are also a number of large chain grocery stores that will only stock tuna fish that is “dolphin safe”. These stores include Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Albertsons (Acme), Safeway, Piggly Wiggly and Kmart.

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