Making the Seas Unsafe For Dolphins

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WASHINGTON: The meaning behind the "dolphin safe" label on cans of tuna may change drastically if the Senate and White House sign-off on legislation approved in the House which permits the use of practices known to kill dolphins. By a 262-166 vote, the House agreed to allow the U.S. to import tuna which is caught using methods such as encirclement, a procedure in which massive nets fence off entire schools of tuna. Millions of dolphins have been killed in the process over the past two decades when they were caught in the nets. Under the House bill, tuna caught in this fashion can still euphemestically be sold as "dolphin safe." The number of dolphin deaths at the hands of fishing fleets has decreased from 100,000 a year to 2,700 per year since the 1990 tuna import ban blocking encirclement and other methods took effect. Although fishing fleets would be allowed to resume encircling schools of tuna, observers will have to be on board to monitor whether any dolphins are killed, the House bill mandates. "If a dolphin is observed killed you can't label that tuna fish dolphin safe, said Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, a sponsor of the bill. No word yet on where to apply for jobs as dolphin observers.