WTO: U.S. ‘dolphin safe’ labels too restrictive
By SeafoodSource staff
16 May, 2012
A World Trade Organization appellate panel on Wednesday said U.S. “dolphin safe” tuna labeling policies unfairly discriminate against Mexico.
This comes about four months after the United States appealed a WTO decision from September 2011 ruling that the U.S. policies are overly restrictive. For two decades Mexico has argued that the policies, implemented in 1991, have shut them out of the U.S. market for canned tuna, one of America’s favorite seafood products.
The National Fisheries Institute expressed disappointment with the WTO decision in a statement on Wednesday. The NFI’s Tuna Council represents American’s top three canned tuna brands — Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist.
The ruling “is likely to create consumer confusion about whether or not their products continue to be dolphin safe,” said NFI. “The three U.S. brands want to reassure consumers they have no reason to be concerned that their companies are wavering in their commitment to providing dolphin safe tuna as a result of this ruling. These companies do not and will not utilize tuna caught in a manner that harms dolphins. Providing consumers with sustainable and dolphin safe tuna remains a top priority.”
In an interview with Reuters, Nkenge Harmon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, called the ruling a “mixed result” that did not necessarily mean the United States had to abandon its “dolphin safe” tuna labeling policies.
“It’s too soon to say,” Harmon told Reuters. “We will review the report carefully and consider its implications. At this time it would be premature to discuss any specific actions that might be required to implement the findings.”
16 May, 2012