New Certification Requirements for Tuna Products from Ten Countries
The National Marine Fisheries Service has made a determination of regular and significant mortality and serious injury of dolphins in gillnet fisheries harvesting tuna by vessels flagged under the governments of India, Iran, Mozambique, Pakistan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
As a result, tuna products from those fisheries that are harvested on fishing trips that begin on or after Nov. 29, exported from or offered for sale in the U.S., and marketed as or include on the label the term “dolphin safe” must be accompanied by a written statement executed by both the captain of the vessel and an observer participating in a national or international program acceptable to NMFS certifying that (1) no fishing gear was intentionally deployed on or used to encircle dolphins during the trip on which the tuna were caught, (2) no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in the sets or other gear deployments in which the tuna were caught, and (3) tuna caught in sets designated as dolphin-safe was stored physically separate from tuna caught in non-dolphin-safe sets by the use of netting, other material, or separate storage areas from the time of capture through unloading. However, NMFS notes that it has not yet determined that any national or international observer program operating in these fisheries is acceptable and is inviting information supporting such a determination from governmental authorities of the countries identified.
This determination will also require such tuna products to be accompanied by a government certificate validating that the catch documentation is correct, the tuna or tuna products meet the dolphin-safe standards, and the chain of custody information is correct.