Dolphin Safe Tuna – Mexico not cooperating

Six major environmental and animal welfare organizations have asked US
President Obama to use his influence with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to
stop the Mexican government’s sabotaging the legally-required process over the
Dolphin Safe tuna label issue before the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA).

The organizations include Earth Island Institute (International
Marine Mammal Project), Humane Society International, Center for Biological
Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Mexico challenged the U.S. Dolphin Safe tuna label before the World
Trade Organization (WTO). While the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) has actively complied with its responsibilities under the WTO, USTR also
took steps in September of 2010 to transfer the case to NAFTA under Article
2005(4) of Chapter 20, which requires that NAFTA be the sole forum to hear the
dispute when certain conditions are met.

For more than a year, however, the Government of Mexico has refused
to either take any steps to appoint a dispute panel in the NAFTA dispute or
agree to transfer the WTO case to NAFTA.

President Obama is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Calderon on
November 13th in Honolulu.

Mexico has dragged out this dispute more than 20 years – 20 years when the
Mexican government could have been helping their fishermen transition to tuna
fishing methods that would save dolphin lives.

At the behest of a handful of tuna
millionaires, the Mexican government has thrown up every legal and political
roadblock imaginable – methods that US courts described as flagrant meddling.
Their refusal to even respond to this legal inquiry shows that they follow the
letter of their international obligations only when it suits them.  Meanwhile,
dolphins are paying the ultimate price.

The official dolphin kill, based on onboard observer reports, in the entire
Eastern Tropical Pacific was 1,239 dolphins in 2009 (latest data available). We
suspect observers are being intimidated and/or bribed to give low counts.
We also know that baby dolphins cannot keep up with the pod when they
are chased by speedboats — these dependent babies are left behind to starve or
get eaten by sharks.  The populations of dolphins that are being chased
and netted are not showing any rebound from their severely depressed numbers.
(The two dolphin stocks most chased and netted, the Eastern Spinner Dolphin and
Northeastern Offshore Spotted Dolphin stocks number around a million dolphins
each, which sound like a lot until you realize they numbered probably 5 million
each back in the 1950′s before nets were used to catch tuna.)

Mexico has the largest fleet of purse seiners that pursue dolphins
to catch tuna, so their fleet is likely responsible for half the dolphin
mortality there.  Venezuela and Colombia also have large fleets that kill
dolphins, and a few companies in other countries also continue to kill
dolphins.”
Full article: Seattle PI

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