The Tuna-Dolphin Association in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Fishery: International Trade and Resource Management Issues

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The Tuna-Dolphin Association in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Fishery: International Trade and Resource Management Issues

in Ocean Yearbook Online


2. IATTC is an organization operating under the authority of a convention originally entered into by Costa Rica and the United States. This convention went

into force in 1950 and was open to adherence by other governments whose nationals fish for tuna in the EPO. The following countries adhered to the convention: Panama (1953), Ecuador (1961), Mexico (1964), Canada (1968), Japan (1970), and France and Nicaragua (1973). Ecuador (1968), Mexico (1976), Costa Rica (1979), and Canada (1984) have withdrawn from the commission. 3. Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), Annual Report (La Jolla, Cali- fornia: IATTC, 1990).

4. John E. Bardach and Penelope J. Ridings, "Pacific Tuna: Biology, Economics, and Politics," Ocean Yearbook 5, ed. Elisabeth Mann Borgese and Norton Ginsburg (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 29-57. 5. National Research Council, Dolphins and the Tuna Industry (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1992). 6. Tuna have a very fine sense of smell and good vision due to their capacity to elevate the temperature of their eyes and brains. See Bardach and Ridings (n. 4 above), p. 32.

7. Fuel costs have been estimated at 32% of annual variable cost for a typical 1,200-ton purse seiner operating from Ensenada (Baja California) or Mazatlan (Sina- loa) in the EPO. 8. R. E. Green, W. F. Perrin, and B. P. Petrich, "The American Tuna Purse Seine Fishery," in Modern Fishing Gear of the World (London: Fishing News Books, 1970), 3:12.

9. Robert F. Allen, James F. Boyd, and Douglas H. Dirks, "The Impact of the Dolphin Mortality Issue on Tuna Seine Fishery Technology," in "Papers of the Second World Tuna Trade Conference," Bali, Indonesia, 13-15 May 1991, mimeo, pp. 23-39.

10. Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), Annual Report (La Jolla, California: IATTC, 1987). 11. Allen, Boyd, and Dirks (n. 9 above), p. 26.

12. Ibid., p. 27. 13. In 1991 there were only 10-11 American purse seiners operating in the EPO tuna fishery. 14. The following measures are recommended by the commission to nations whose flag vessels participate in the tuna fishery of the EPO: (1) Each purse seine should incorporate a DSP to protect and facilitate release of dolphins in the perimeter of the backdown area. (2) All purse seiners should engage in a backdown procedure

during sets in which dolphins are captured, and backdown should continue until it is no longer possible to release live dolphins by this procedure. (3) Purse seiners should carry speedboats equipped to tow on corklines when necessary to prevent dolphin entrapment due to net collapses or canopy formation. (4) Each purse seiner should carry and deploy a one- or two-person raft equipped with face masks and snorkels or viewboxes to serve as a platform for dolphin rescue during and after backdown. (5) Each purse seiner should carry high-pressure sodium-vapor floodlights of sufficient illumination output to allow observation from the vessel of dolphin rescue and release procedures during sets in which all or part of the backdown procedure is carried out during darkness. (6) Each nation with a purse-seine fleet operating in the EPO should establish an advisory group of experienced captains and fishing gear experts to im- prove the performance of their flag vessels in reducing dolphin mortality. 15. The sources are the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Subcommit- tee on Small Cetaceans, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Services, and IATTC. For a discussion on the use of linear transect methods for reports from commercial fishing vessels, as well as on the reliability of absolute and relative estimates, see IATTC, Annual Report, 1987 (n. 10 above).

16. National Research Council (n. 5 above), p. 67. 17. These canners included Starkist Seafood (H. J. Heinz Company), Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc., Van Camp Seafood (Ralston Purina), Mitsubishi Foods, Inc. (Three Diamonds trademark), Mitsui Foods, Inc. (Empress, Sea Light, and Gift of the Sea brands), and Ocean Packing Corporation. These announcements were followed by similar decisions by Trinity Tuna and Star Tuna, the two largest tuna canners in Italy, along with the French Canners' Association and Sainsbury's, the largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom. 18. Within this quota there are individual limits for coastal spotted dolphin (250) and eastern spinner dolphin (2,750).

19. The canned tuna industry has indeed undergone a major restructuring pro- cess. With the expansion of the international tuna fleet, most of the U.S. canneries got rid of their fleets in the 1970s as the supply of raw frozen tuna ceased to be a bottleneck (in contrast, vertical integration remains an important feature of the largest Mexican canneries). The canneries of these firms were relocated in Samoa and Puerto Rico to take advantage of lower labor costs, but as competition from Asian countries intensified, with even lower labor costs, most U.S. firms sold facilities to Asian competi- tors. It is important to observe that the price of Mexican canned tuna is no match for the low price charged by Asian producers (including freight). Product presentation is of greater quality in the case of Southeast Asian producers (aluminum cans instead of the tin cans used by Mexican canners, product differentiation, and so on). So implementing a dolphin-safe policy may have been a convenient tactic in the competi- tion engaged by these new investors against Mexican firms, but it is fair to say that Mexican producers have not designed a development strategy for the domestic and the international canned tuna market.

20. GATT, Report of the Working Group, United States Restrictions on Tuna Imports, DS21/R, 3 September 1991. 21. There are sufficient ambiguities in the panel's decision to conclude that it will set a definite line of interpretation on these issues. Some of the issues raised here are commented on in detail in Joseph Greenwald, "Trade and Environment in a North American Free Trade Agreement," Occasional Papers in International Trade Law and Policy no. 21, Centre for Trade Policy and Law, University of Ottawa, Carle- ton University (1991); and Steve Charnovitz, "Exploring the Environmental Expecta- tions in GATT Article XX," Journal of World Trade 25, no. 5 (1991): 37-55.

22. The new Dolphin Conservation Act defines as "dolphin safe" tuna or tuna products that do not contain tuna harvested in the High Seas by vessels engaging in driftnet fishing or harvested in the EPO through purse-seine sets on dolphins and other marine mammals.

23. The description of the ATA's permit can be found in the 1992 amendment to the U.S. MMPA, 102d Cong., 2d sess., H.R. 5419.

24. The functions and specific regulatory mechanisms of these organizations differ. This is due to the specific environmental and economic features of the fisheries involved. Whereas the stock of yellowfin tuna is not considered in danger of a collapse (although there are signs of overexploitation), the ICCAT reports that the number of adult Atlantic bluefin tuna has dropped by 90% since 1970 (to around 22,000 fish). In 1991 the ICCAT cut the fishing quotas by 10%; Japan and the United States believe that quotas should be halved, but Canada disagrees. If quotas are not cut more, the National Audubon Society will request a suspension in international trade of bluefin tuna. Japanese consume 20,000 tons per year (more than half the world's catch). This species has by far the highest commercial value: recently, a large bluefin weighing 325 kg was auctioned in the Tokyo market at US$276/k for a total of US$90,000.

SOURCE.-Resolution of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission on the Reduction of Dolphin Mortality, La Jolla, Califor- nia, 1992.

25. IATTC, Annual Report, 1990 (n. 3 above), p. 46. 26. National Research Council (n. 5 above), pp. 85-86. 27. Ibid., p. 76. 28. Most of the international fleet in the EPO uses nylon nets because of their durability and low cost; they also have appropriate sinking characteristics. However, other materials such as polyester, aramid, and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethyl- ene could offer advantageous features. In particular, they would translate into faster- sinking nettings. However, the cost of the latter two may be higher than nylon. A company has already used a polyester net, reporting higher than double sinking ratios to those of nylon webbing and certain cost advantages (ibid., p. 77).

29. IATTC Annual Report, 1990 (n. 3 above), p. 45. 30. IATTC, Special Meeting on an International Program for the Conservation of Dolphin Populations, Appendix I, La Jolla, California, 14-15 January 1991. 31. National Research Council (n. 5 above), pp. 88, 90. 32. Other boats may be getting ready to shift operations to the western Pacific Ocean.

33. About 10% of tuna caught in the EPO is caught through sets on floating objects. 34. Natural logs tend to get waterlogged and sink after several weeks. Thus, they tend to occur near coasts and aggregate smaller fish. Experiments with logs in areas where they do not occur naturally are required to explore their potential for aggregating larger fish. 35. Allen, Boyd, and Dirks (n. 9 above), p. 29; National Research Council (n. 5 above).

36. Ibid. 37. Interesting data could come from a careful assessment of the Japanese fleet, which was slower to convert to purse seining. Initially, the Japanese live-bait tuna fishing concentrated on skipjack in the coastal waters of the western Pacific Ocean (WPO). This fishery was developed for at least two decades before the beginning of World War II. In Japan, skipjack is particularly well suited for the dried fish (katsuo- bushi) market. Because of limited availability of live bait, pole-and-line methods for catching skipjack could be used only in Japanese coastal waters. As methods for car- rying live bait were introduced in the 1950s and improved in the 1960s, the fleet expanded its operations until the entire WPO was covered. This method is used today in combination with bleeding and blast freezing methods, which make skipjack more acceptable for canning. However, in the WPO the technique is also being replaced by purse seining.

38. I am indebted to Professor Homero Cabrera, senior research associate of the Centro de Investigaciones Cientificas y Estudios Superiores de Ensenada, for bringing this point to my attention. 39. Allen, Boyd, and Dirks (n. 9 above), p. 29; National Research Council (n. 5 above). 40. One of these precedents is the ecosystem monitoring and management ap- proach set forth in the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). As important a breakthrough as these provisions may be, they will remain no more than good intentions if there is no implementation. Serious concerns on the future of these resources are expressed in J. R. Beddington, M. Basson, and J. A. Gulland, "The Practical Implications of the Eco-system Approach in CCAMLR," International Challenges 10, no. 1 (1990): 17-20. Also, the further devel- opment of food-processing technologies for Antarctic krill (Euphasia superba) may result in overfishing of this crustacean in spite of the CCAMLR. See Stephen Nicol, "Who's Counting on Krill?" New Scientist 124, no. 1690 (1989): 38-41.


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