For most consumers, opting for environmentally friendly products when possible is a no-brainer. But sometimes making the right choice for the environment isn’t as clear as we realize – even with basic kitchen staples like canned tuna. Many brands claim to be “dolphin-safe”, but does the label really guarantee that what’s inside is eco-safe?
Current U.S. “dolphin-safe” labeling regulations prevent consumers from really knowing whether their tuna is dolphin-safe or not. You can be assured, however, that it is definitely not eco-safe. Much of the tuna sold in the United States as “dolphin-safe” is caught using methods that harm or kill marine life such as sharks, sea turtles, rays, seabirds and, yes, dolphins.
Not to fear, there are still eco-safe tuna options available that do not harm dolphins or any other creatures. You just need to know how to find it. There are a few things that every consumer can do to make sure that he/she makes choices that are not only dolphin-safe, but also eco-safe, when shopping for tuna.
1. Educate yourself on what it means for tuna to be eco-safe. There are many different labels out there which claim to be “dolphin-safe,” but only a few meet the stringent standards of eco-safe tuna. Eco-safe tuna is caught using fishing methods that minimize harm to all marine life. One category of eco-safe tuna is defined by the standards of the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP), a multilateral agreement on dolphin conservation and ecosystem management in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) Ocean. The AIDCP label ensures that the process for fishing eco-safe tuna is:
- Backed by 100% independent observer coverage to ensure no there is no bycatch – the unintentional capture of additional marine life.
- Supported by tracking and verification systems from catch to can.
- Enforced by legally binding laws and regulations.
- Transparent in guaranteeing that no dolphins were independently observed to have been harmed during the capture of the tuna.
2. Visit the websites of your favorite tuna brands and see what “dolphin-safe” label they use. You might be surprised to learn that the three largest brands in the United State – StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea – do not adhere to these eco-safe fishing standards and even fail to meet some of the industry’s most reputable dolphin-safe standards.
3. Look at the can’s label when you’re at the supermarket. If the can does not carry the AIDCP label, then the tuna is not eco-safe. Also, try asking an employee of the store if they carry any AIDCP approved tuna.