Feature

Mexico: Protecting fishermen, not dolphins

The World Trade Organization's ruling shows that the U.S. practice of excluding Mexican tuna from the American market is pure protectionism, dressed up as environmentalism, said Sergio Sarmiento at Frontera.

Sergio SarmientoFrontera

“It was never about the dolphins,” said Sergio Sarmiento. A ruling last week by the World Trade Organization has demonstrated that the U.S. practice of excluding Mexican tuna from the American market is pure protectionism, dressed up as environmentalism.

It’s been more than a decade since Mexico and other countries joined the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program. That agreement allowed our tuna to use the AIDCP Dolphin Safe label, which “certified a virtually zero mortality of dolphins” in our tuna fishing. But the U.S. declined to recognize that label, and instead accepted the standards of the Earth Island Dolphin Safe label—which, not coincidentally, has not been granted to any tuna harvested by Mexican fishermen.

In the years since, the Americans have been forced to concede that Mexican fishing practices don’t kill dolphins, so they started arguing that dolphins were nevertheless so “stressed” by Mexican tuna fishing that it couldn’t be considered dolphin-safe. The WTO has now correctly rejected that argument as blatant discrimination. Yet the trade war is still far from over. You can bet that the U.S. government will encourage consumers to boycott “retailers and supermarkets that dare to offer Mexican tuna.” How many dolphins will that save? Not a single one.

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