"Dolphin-Safe" Labels Manipulate the Market

Published: Sat 2 May 2015 12:31 PM
"Dolphin-Safe" Labels Manipulate the Market
"Dolphin-safe" labels are a fraud. That is the conclusion of Bill Watson, a trade policy analyst from the Cato Institute. In anopinion piece for Forbes, Mr. Watson outlines the World Trade Organization appeal that was found in favor of Mexico and diagnoses the main problem of the labeling regime: "...that the law defining dolphin-safe is actually designed to mislead consumers about the fishing methods used to catch tuna."
The tragedy of the dolphin-safe label is that consumers really do care about dolphins. Mr. Watson notes that "whether companies can market their tuna as dolphin-safe has a huge impact on consumer and retailer behavior. Currently around 98% of canned tuna sold in grocery stores carries the label. By most measures, the "dolphin-safe" label should be deemed a success--consumers responded to information and the market responded to consumers."
However, the sad reality is that just because it's labeled "dolphin-safe" doesn't mean any dolphins were harmed in the harvest of that tuna -- it just means that it wasn't harvested using one specific type of fishing. The type of fishing that is considered "dolphin-safe" under the U.S. is incredibly harmful to other species and to dolphins themselves. In his article, Mr. Watson says that "the major U.S. producers catch tuna using fish aggregation devices (FADs), a practice that activists have condemned as 'floating death traps' because of its high incidence of bycatch."
To read the full article, please click here.

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